Monday, May 18, 2015

La Maison Cointreau Regional Finals 2015

La Maison Cointreau Regional Finals 
RECAP PART II (RECAP Part I: Duang Poshyanoda here)

"A drink inspired by love, independence and freedom," says Ami Shroff (Mixologist, India).

La Maison Cointreau held its first official regional finals this 2015 in Bangkok at Ku De Ta. Featuring 8 bartenders from Southeast Asia, Middle East, and India, the regional competition was judged by none other than Alfred Cointreau, Heritage Manager of Cointreau and 6th generation of the Cointreau family.

For the occasion, I was invited by Cointreau to live e-report the event, as well as interview the guests, judges, and competitors in the video below.(Archived real time updates are on Cointreau's Facebook Page)

The 8 Mixologist Finalists:
BALI, INDONESIA: Anzar Annas (Bar Leader, Potato Head Beach Club Bali)
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Laura Luca (Bartender, Boca)
INDIA: Ami Behram Shroff (Mixologist)
MALAYSIA: Jeffri Bin Sulaiman (The BIG Group)
SINGAPORE: Mike Cheong (Head Bartender, WOOBAR at W Singapore Sentosa Cove)
THAILAND: Attapon De-Silva (Sugar Ray)
PHIIPPINES: Christian Earl David S. Asiaddo/Rian (Long Bar, Raffles Hotel)
VIETNAM: Lam Duc Anh (SORAE Sake Whisky Lounge)

(left to right) Joseph Boroski, Duang Poshyanonda, Alfred Cointreau

The competition would result in two winners: a finalist chosen from two challenges. The official La Maison Cointreau Final was held at Ku De Ta Bangkok, where two challenges awaited each of the eight finalists, judged by Alfred Cointreau, Joseph Boroski, and Duang Poshyanonda.

On the night before the competition, finalists were presented with the first challenge, One Night in Bangkok.  "Imagine yourself on the fastest roller coaster ride with disjointed tracks and no safety belts on," describes Singapore's finalist, Mike Cheong, "One moment we were preparing for the grand finals and next we were thrown into a random street with 700baht and an hour to design a cocktail experience. It was absolutely thrilling and challenging! A ride I would kill to be on."

Azwar Annas (Bali) searching Khao San Road for props to use in his final presentation.

Khao San Sting by Laura Duca (UAE)
Ingredients: Cointreau, Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, Coconut Water, Coconut Cream, Sugar, Fresh Lemon Juice, Fresh Kaffir Lime Leaf Garnish: Fried Crickets, Fried Scorpion

Cocktails for this challenge ranged from using crickets and fried scorpions to candied mangoes and honey roasted sunflower seeds.

Orange Vest by Attapon De-Silva (Thailand)
 Ingredients: Cointreau, Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Fresh Pineapple Juice, Fresh Lime Juice, Ya Dong (Thai Herbal Rice Spirit) Garnish: Candied Mango, Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum And Fresh Honey Coated Sunflower Seeds

The second cocktail presentation,"L'Esprit Parisien" challenged finalists to create an original cocktail inspired by Paris. The mixologists were judged on presentation, technique, aroma and flavor, brand knowledge, use of Cointreau and the stories behind their cocktail creations. The mixologist with the best overall score on both challenges wins the title of La Maison Cointreau Champion, and an exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Cointreau Distillery in Angers, France.

Laura Duca (Dubai, UAE) is the second female finalist here in Bangkok. Her drink is inspired by 1920s Paris. She also chose to use Remy Martin in her Cointreau cocktail, in salute to a time when the Cointreau family first pioneered drinks with cherry flavors. Relating to her first Bangkok experience on Khao San Road, she grins as she shares her cricket eating experience, "It's not that bad. It's like eating oily peanuts."

Rian Asiaddo (Philippines) created "Treaty of Paris", telling a bit of history between France and the Philippines as he concocted his final drink.

Mike Cheong from WOOBAR Singapore is presenting his Paris inspired drink, a cocktail honouring Paris, the jewel of France. He remarks on the elegance of Paris, much like the elegance of Cointreau - a liqueur with the highest amount of essential oils and lowest amount of sugars, making it suitable for elegant, balanced cocktails.

Be Unique by Lam Duc Anh (Vietnam)
Ingredients: Lavender Infused Cointreau, Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Single Malt Whisky, Lotus Green Tea, Fresh Lemon Juice, Homemade Honey Ginger Syrup, Egg White Garnish: Fresh Lotus Flower Petal, Fresh Orange Peel, Dried Lavender Sprig

Later in the evening, the second challenge awaited. Cointreau hosted a lavish Soirée de Gala. Here, the mixologists were faced with the challenge of serving hundreds of VIP guests and hope for their vote to win the Media Choice Award. Watch the video at the top to see how the event went.


L’Esprit Parisien Challenge Winner
Bijou Parisien by Mike Cheong (Singapore)
Ingredients: Cointreau, Coriander Infused The Botanist Gin, Egg White, Fresh Lime Juice, Homemade Champagne Reduction Strawberry Syrup Garnish: Dehydrated Strawberries, Homemade Edible White Chocolate and Strawberry Lipstick, Cointreau Perfume

Mike Cheong, Head Bartender from WOOBAR at W Singapore – Sentosa Cove, takes home the title of the very first La Maison Cointreau Regional Champion. Anwar Annas, Bar Leader from Potato Head Beach Club Bali, came in a close second, followed by Laura Duca from Boca, Dubai. Lam Duc Anh, Bar Supervisor of SORAE Whisky Lounge, won the Media Choice Award.

On the win, Cheong humbly reacts, "I felt honoured and emotional because I really did gave my 100%. All I wanted to do after was to bring the award home and show it to people who thought that I was never going to make it." 

The grand prize, an exclusive trip to the Cointreau Distillery in Angers, France was presented to him. Looking forward to his first trip to France, Cheong says, "I always wanted to visit France as it is the birth place of countless avantgarde ideas and products. To have the opportunity to visit the Cointreau distillery and feel the passion behind it is one of the main highlights. Passion is infectious. Being around passionate people pushes me to reach my potential." He continues, "I love to explore and immerse myself in different cultures when I'm in different cities too. That's where most of my inspirations came from."

Perhaps what I found most rewarding about the experience, besides the endless flow of cocktails made by amazing talent, was getting to know the stories behind each of the finalists and the camaraderie within the industry. The spirit of the competition was warm and good-natured, and the night continued with post-celebratory gastronomic and imbibing adventures around Bangkok for all involved in the competition... but that part, I shall not report on.


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