2022 competition
2022 competition

No.3 Gin Pursuit of Perfection Competition 2022

Words by Simon Difford

Ten finalists from over 400 initial entrants emerged from heats in three markets to compete in the final of the fifth annual No.3 Gin Pursuit of Perfection Competition. I was one of the fortunate judges who had a front-stage seat at the bar to sample and assess their cocktails and how they made and presented them.

No.3 Gin is of course named after Berry Bros and Rudd's historic St. James' Street address but the gin's real home is at the No.3 Gin distillery in Schiedam, Netherlands, and this is where we all gathered for the final of this competition, one that challenges competitors to make cocktails inspired by No.3 Gin's three main flavour profiles: Juniper, Citrus, and Spice.

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First Round

The finalists are all very experienced bartenders so considering the trend for house-made ingredients and pre-batched cocktails it's perhaps not surprising that a number of competitors talked through and demonstrated the processes they employed, but the actual cocktails presented were pre-made.

Carbonation, infusions, and sous vide techniques were all used but surprisingly citrus juice hardly featured. Over the past 25 years and some 200 competitions that I've judged, this was the first where various blends of malic, citric and tartaric acid all but replaced lime and lemons.

A speed round followed to find the wild-card fourth competitor to join the three winners from each of the three countries of the first round:
Raki Sillah, Germany
Gioacchino Sorrentino, Italy
Adam Taylor, UK

Speed Round

The speed round set the remaining seven competitors against each other to make four classics in the fastest time with the least penalties. Being a gin competition, it was perhaps predictable that these were a Dry Martini, a Negroni, a G&T to No.3's spec. complete with rosemary sprig and pink grapefruit wedge, and a Corpse Reviver No.2 (or No. Blue). Lorenzo Piscitello showed he had speed coupled with style to earn his place in the final.

Final Round & Winner

In the final head-to-head, the four finalists were challenged to present a cocktail featuring whichever two of the three key flavour profiles in No.3 Gin they didn't use in the first round: Juniper, Citrus, and Spice.

An extra two minutes of presentation time allowed each finalist time to better present their skills while making five cocktails and at the same time telling the story behind their cocktail, their choice of ingredients and also conveying their No.3 Gin knowledge.

They all showed great skill and were entertaining while also raising the level of the cocktails they presented from the first round. However, it was an unanimous judges' decision that saw Gioacchino Sorrentino of Soul Salerno emerge as the winner with Adam Montanaro 2nd, Raki Sillah 3rd, and Lorenzo Piscitello 4th.

All the finalists enjoyed a luxury experience staying in Rotterdam to participate in the final, complete with experiences ranging from dinner at one of the city's best restaurants through to travelling by highspeed river taxi. In addition, the runners-up won a bespoke, handmade leather bar kit holder, with No.3 bar equipment and Gioacchino was awarded £5,000 to create his own bar takeover at a location of his choice.

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The Winning Cocktail

My type of Gimlet
Glass: Nick & Nora
Garnish: Apple pulp triangular leather dehydrated for 7 hours at 80°C
Method: All ingredients were shaken with ice while Gioacchino demonstrated his mastery of a stylish two-tin shake.
45 ml No.3 Gin
25 ml Green apple and coriander seed cordial (with citric acid)
7.5 ml Italicus
10 ml Acid blend (30g citric, 10g malic, 300ml water)
2 dash Saline solution (20g salt, 20ml water)

All ten Competitors

Adam Montanaro-Taylor

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Bar: Project Halcyon

Ryan Mackie

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UK - Scottish heat winner
Bar: Orchid

UK - Lorenzo Piscitello

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London heat winner
Bar: Artesian

UK - Ashley Haines

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Bristol heat winner
Bar: Angel Bar (Reading)

Raki Sillah

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Germany- Berlin heat winner
Bar: Kink Bar & Restaurant

Claudius Engel

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Germany- Southern heat winner
Bar: Gorilla Bar

Robin Lühert

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Germany- Northern heat winner
Bar: Bar and Café Esprit

Davide Wang

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Italy - Northern heat winner
Bar: Moebius

Gioacchino Sorrentino

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Italy - Southern heat winner
Bar: Soul Salerno

Daniele de Angelis

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Italy - Central heat winner
Bar: Argot Secret Bar

Presenting and judging

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I was joined by the famous Alessandro Palazzi of Dukes Bar, London; the very knowledgeable Christoph Henkel of Kirsch Whisky Distribution; and Myriam Hendrickx, the Master Distiller of Rutte, De Kuyper and indeed No.3 Gin. The affable Ross Bryant, No.3 Gin Global Brand Ambassador acted as MC while also ensuring the competition went smoothly.

All cocktails had to contain a minimum of 40ml No.3 Gin and a maximum of six ingredients. We judged according to criteria with Taste and Flavour contributing 50% of the total score, marked alongside Presentation, Skill and Technique, and Brand Knowledge.

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