Tío Pepe Challenge

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Words by:
Photography by: Simon Difford (bartenders & cocktails) Simon Williams (cocktails & judges)

Sherry was much used to great effect in many of the great vintage cocktails, something not lost on today’s most talented mixologists who have rediscovered and embraced the versatility offered by sherry’s various styles, from bone dry Fino to rich and raisiny Pedro Ximénez. So sampling the following ten examples of great sherry cocktails was a very pleasurable way to spend an afternoon.

This rare opportunity came as I joined Walter Pintus (Connaught Hotel) and Boris Ivan (International Ambassador for ‎González Byass) on 4th April 2017 to judge the González Byass competition in London, a competition to decide who will represent the UK competing against bartenders from other countries at the Grand Final of the Tío Pepe Challenge in Jerez this May.

Bartenders from across the UK attended masterclasses and then submitted their cocktail entries online, it was from these entries that the then 10 UK finalists were selected and appeared in front of us. Each of them presented their signature cocktail (see below) using sherries from the ‎González Byass range as well as present their version of a classic Sherry Cobbler cocktail. The bartenders were also challenged and scored on a blind sherry tasting and their skill at serving sherry using a traditional venenciador.

Lucia Montanelli of London's Dorchester Hotel presented her superb cocktails with 5-star aplomb and also crucially excelled in the tasting and venenciador challenges so was the very worthy winner.

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Lucia Montanelli

The competitors & their cocktails

Presented in the order they competed: each bartender followed by their signature cocktail.
I have included the score I awarded out of 100 for the presentation of each signature cocktail and the bartenders' rendition of a classic Cobbler. The scoring was awarded according to: 40% flavour, 10% aroma, 5% glass, 5% decoration, 25% overall presentation and 15% description. The final score was calculated from all 3 judges scores along with scores from the tasting and venenciador.

1. Mirko Sacco

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A Cask of Palo Cortado
Glass: Double-walled Martini glass
Garnish: Bergamot & rose aroma dry ice
Method: STIR all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass.
50 González Byass Palo Cortado
25ml Aperitivo Select
10ml Boudier Kaffir lime leaf liqueur
5ml Nardini Tagiatella
Difford's scores: signature 73/100 & cobbler 89/100

2. Matyas Busek, Mr Fogg's Residence

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One Way Journey
Glass: Coupe
Garnish: Sesame biscuit
Method: STIR all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass over a eucalyptus ice block.
50ml Tío Pepe Fino sherry
25ml The London No.1 Gin
35ml Eucalyptus shrub
Difford's scores: signature 88/100 & cobbler 80/100

3. Lucia Montanelli, The Dorchester

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Don Tío
Glass: Martini
Garnish: Orange zest twist
Method: SHAKE all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.
30ml González Byass Nectar Pedro Ximénez
20ml Tío Pepe Fino sherry
30ml LondonNo.1 Gin
2 dash Bokers Bitters
Difford's scores: signature 88/100 & cobbler 97/100

4. Rob Simpson, The Clove Club

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The Convergence of Pepe
Glass: Coupe
Garnish: Red bow tied to stem atomised with cocktail
Method: THROW all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass.
65ml Tío Pepe Fino sherry
30ml Parsley & apple juice
10ml Seaweed syrup
1 dash Raki
3 drop Malic acid solution (10% solution)
Difford's scores: signature 85/100 & cobbler 98/100

5.Giuseppe Panetta, Quaglino's Cocktail Bar

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La Casita
Glass: Flute
Garnish: Dehydrated dragon wheel & rosemary
Method: THROW all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass.
60ml Tío Pepe Fino sherry
15ml Aperol
15ml Licor 43
15ml Freshly squeezed lemon juice
5ml Sugar syrup
Difford's scores: signature 91/100 & cobbler 83/100

6. Gabor Molnar, Boisdale Canary Wharf

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Grande Manuel
Glass: Nick & Nora
Garnish: Foam made with smoked Fernet Branca and egg whites
Method: THROW all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass.
65ml González Byass Palo Cortado
25ml Champagne syrup
4 drops Lemon bitters
25ml Fernet Branca
Difford's scores: signature 78/100 & cobbler 82/100

7. Dario Cuichan Davalos, Grosvenor House

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Tía Paquita
Glass: Coupe
Garnish: Mini Lady's hat on rim. Served with Spanish jamon, cheese and tomato jam
Method: DRY SHAKE all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass. Top with splash of cava.
40ml Tío Pepe Fino sherry
20ml London No.1 Gin
10ml Freshly squeezed lemon juice
5ml Sugar syrup
25ml Egg white
2 spoon Spanish orange marmalade
Splash Cava
Difford's scores: signature 80/100 & cobbler 87/100

8. Oliver Kritzler, Milk & Honey

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From Douro to Jerez
Glass: Coupe
Garnish: Orange zest twist PLUS cacao liqueur and Tío Pepe mist
Method: STIR all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass.
50ml Tawny Port
50ml Tío Pepe Fino sherry
7.5ml González Byass Nectar Pedro Ximénez
2 dash Orange bitters
2 dash Angostura bitters
Difford's scores: signature 96/100 & cobbler 88/100

9. Steve Lawson, Mash

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Tío Legacy
Glass: Small ceramic bowl
Garnish: Saffron fonds
Method: HARD SHAKE all ingredients and fine strain into small ceramic bowl.
50ml Tío Pepe Fino sherry
20ml Lemon juice
15ml Tonic cordial
1 spoon Orange marmalade
10 leaves Thai basil
Difford's scores: signature 72/100 & cobbler 58/100

10. Dardan Hoti, Blue Bar

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As Times Goes By
Glass: Sherry glass
Garnish: Two edible red viola flowers
Method: THROW ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass.
35ml González Byass Palo Cortado
15ml González Byass Alfonso Oloroso Seco
10ml London No.1 Gin
15ml Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
5ml Acacia honey syrup (2 honey to 1 water)
Difford's scores: signature 84/100 & cobbler 90/100

Judges

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Walter Pintus (Connaught Hotel)

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Boris Ivan (International Ambassador for ‎González Byass)

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