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World's Best Winter Spritz competition

During late summer 2023, Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka invited bartenders from The Ivy Group in the UK and Ireland to create the World's Best Winter Spritz in readiness for winter.

The idea for the competition came off the back of Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka being awarded World's Best In Class Vodka and Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2023. The proud folk at Ramsbury sought to celebrate their achievement by discovering a Winter Spritz recipe worthy of another 'World's Best' title. Happily, from the dozens of entries, this in-house competition produced not just a winner but a tasty spritz.

The first stage saw the judges carefully assess all the entries and tour Ivy Group bars for in-bar tastings to find the five finalists from the 12 shortlisted bartenders who were invited to present their cocktails at the final, held at The Ivy's iconic West Street in central London.

Joseph Wood (pictured above), bar manager at The Ivy in West Street, was pronounced the winner with his Alpine Spritz.
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Alpine Spritz
Glass: Wine glass
Garnish: Toasted marshmallow
Method: Build in ice-filled glass.
35 ml Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka
10 ml Pine syrup
1 dash Oak Smoke bitters
100 ml Moscato d`Asti Vajra
50 ml Soda water
Inspiration: Joseph explained that he was inspired by his first skiing holiday as a young man with his father in the Italian Alps. He experienced aromas and flavours, including toasting marshmallows by the fire, the pine trees and the birch smoke from the bonfire. He says, "Ramsbury's soft, mouchy, fruity notes combine in harmony with the cocktail's fresh pine and smoky flavours."

Joao Harry Woodford, a bartender at The Ivy in Granary Square, took second place with his Spritztingle, which incidentally was named by his mum.
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Glass: Copa glass
Garnish: Blackcurrant and rosemary sprig
Method: Build in ice-filled glass.
35 ml Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka
15 ml Cherry mead liqueur
10 ml Crème de mûre liqueur
30 ml Cranberry juice
Top with Prosecco

James Pooley, a bartender at The Ivy in Norwich, took third place with his Dark Sweet Lady, a vodka-based take on the White Lady and the Sweet Lady, a peach-based whisky cocktail.
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Dark Sweet Lady
Glass: Wine glass
Garnish: Dehydrated lemon, edible flower and a light dusting of nutmeg
Method: Shake first 4 ingredients with ice and strain into ice-filled glass. Top with prosecco.
40 ml Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka
20ml Peach liqueur
15 ml Maple spice syrup
15 ml Lemon juice
75 ml Prosecco

The other two finalists were Panagiotis Terzakis from The Ivy Asia in Chelsea and Georgia Murphy from The Ivy in Guildford. Sadly Georgia couldn't attend the final, but her colleague Jack Eastman stepped in to present her Ramsberry Forager cocktail to the judges and did a great job. Thanks, Jack!

The Challenge

To create the World's Best Winter Spritz using the World's Best In Class Vodka. Cocktail had to:
- include at least 35ml of Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka and showcases its flavour profile
- have no more than five ingredients (garnish not included)
- have a garnish which is seasonally inspired (remember this is a 'winter' spritz)
- uses ingredients available at all Ivy Group sites (as the winning cocktail will be on the Winter menu at all sites in the UK and Ireland).

The Prizes

First prize:

  • £1,000 cash prize
  • A Ramsbury Estate VIP trip – including Bespoke Gin School Experience, dinner and overnight stay at The Bell at Ramsbury for two people (18 years of age +), including travel from UK/Ireland
  • A party for all the bar team at the winning site
  • PR & social promotion of the bartender and their winning cocktail as the special on the menu with Difford's Guide

Second prize:

  • £500 cash prize
  • A Ramsbury Estate Bespoke Gin School Experience for two people (18 years of age +), including travel from UK/Ireland

Third prize:

  • £250 cash prize
  • A Ramsbury 'Taste The Estate' hamper full of Ramsbury's produce (1 Ramsbury Single Estate Gin 70cl, 1 Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka 70cl, 1 Ramsbury Estate Honey, 1 Ramsbury Gold Rapeseed Oil)

The Judging

The judges were looking for a Winter Spritz cocktail which showcases the flavour profile of Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka, looks and tastes delicious and can be replicated across The Ivy sites.

Each cocktail was scored out of 100 using the following criteria:
50 points for the taste
20 points for the name
10 points for the choice of seasonal garnish
20 points for the story and inspiration

There are three rounds of judging the competition entries.

Round One - paper judging:
- all entries were submitted online and reviewed by the judges. The top 12 were selected to proceed to the next round

Round Two - in-bar tasting:
- the 12 shortlisted cocktails were judged through an in-bar tasting round, using a consistent scorecard and adjudicated by an independent judge
- six cocktails were selected to progress to Round Three - the final

Round Three - the final
- the final was held at West Street on 3rd October, with the finalists invited to make their cocktails for the panel of judges. The event was hosted by Mikul Kalyan, Ramsbury Ambassador.

The Judges

David Ray, Director of Bars, The Ivy Group
Paloma Alos, Managing Director, Difford's Guide
Barrie Wilson, independent drinks consultant
(Pictured left to right with winner Joseph Wood 2nd from left.)

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