Words by Simon Difford
Photography by Mamont Vodka
There are two types of cocktail competition – those which aim to find simple, easily replicable cocktails that have a chance of going on to be contemporary classics – and those which push the boundaries of bartending with no complex process or obscure ingredient barred from entry. Mamont Mission lies very much in the second category - its stated “Mission” is to encourage adventure.
The third year of this adventurous cocktail and food pairing competition, Mamont Mission III, is now well underway with the duo from London's Sexy Fish, Dominic North and James Hawkins, winning the UK leg of the competition held at Coin Laundry, London on 3rd May. Other national finals are taking place in France, Russia, Germany and USA.
Each national winning team will receive an amazing all expenses paid adventure to Iceland, in August 2016. Here, the semi-finalists will meet for their last friendly battle-off and "Grand Finale".
The winners will experience the land of contrasts...the land of fire and ice, both a fertile, temperate, European country like any other... and also a barren, frozen Arctic wasteland, all at the same time.
The UK Mission
Mamont challenged teams of bartending duos to present three cocktails whilst working in tandem - a long drink and a shot cocktail to complement a dish prepared by famous Russian chef, Alexei Zimin, owner of ZIMA in London and Editor-in-Chief of Russia's culinary magazine 'Eda'. The teams were also challenged to capture the brand's Siberian heritage and the adventurous theme of the competition.
Mamont UK chef and judge, Alexei Zimin
To see Alexei in action making his dish take a look at the video above. For information on the selected chefs and dish recipes for other participating countries please visit the Mamont Mission III website
The bartenders were also tasked to create an Infused Vodka recipe, prepared in advance of the competition. This was not required to complement Alexei's dish, instead the judges were tasked to look for competitors who infused Mamont Vodka with their own "personal adventure".
My fellow judges
I was joined on the judging panel by Tamara Mazur (Mamont Vodka's Global Brand Ambassador), Alexei Zimin (chef), and last year's winner, James Fowler from Bournemouth's Larder House.
It was a closely fought competition between seven teams with the all contestants truly entering into the competition's theme of adventure with costumes and props employed to help make their food and drink combinations memorable. Follows all seven teams that competed along with their recipes:
Federico Balzarini and Giacomo Franceschi from Soho House, London
Long drink: A Cold Siberian Mule
100ml Mamont Vodka, 70ml beetroot and green apple syrup, 30ml lime juice, 10ml Green Chartreuse, 2 egg whites and 2 dashes of absinthe.
Shot cocktail: Anastasija
100ml Mamont vodka smoked with scorched fresh red apple peel, 30ml Romate Fino sherry, 10ml Cocchi Storico and 2 dashes lemon bitters.
Infusion: Camo Chill
400ml Mamont Vodka infused with 8 grams Roman camomile for two hours.
Team Zii Brus
Alessandro Geracia from Aqua Shard and Davide from Sky Garden, London
Long drink: Trinacria
35ml Mamont Vodka, 50ml homemade borsch juice, 3 dashes homemade red onion bitter, pinch salt, pinch pepper and 7.5ml cod liver oil.
Shot cocktail: Tusk
30ml Mamont Vodka, 10ml apple eau-de-vie lemon smoked. Garnished with lime sugar and charcoal rim.
620ml Mamont Vodka infused with 180 grams ricotta and chocolate.
Team The Iron Road
Luke Pearson and Timur Abdilmanov from The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel
Long drink: 6,000 Miles
45ml Mamont Vodka, 15ml Quince liqueur, 15ml Fennel Shrub, 15ml Lemon, 5ml wild honey, 50ml Siberian pine needle soda.
Shot cocktail: The Fur Coat
25ml Mamont Vodka, 10ml smoked black tea, 5ml Trans Siberian engine oil syrup, 5ml plum liqueur.
Infusion: Sorrel and Star Anise
700ml Mamont Vodka infused with 50 grams sorrel and 2 star anise
Team Sexy Fish
Dominic North and James Hawkins from Sexy Fish, London
Long drink: Anatole's Wildland
55ml Mamont Vodka, 25ml homemade fennel shrub with beetroot and cider vinegar, 10ml chickpea starch, 10ml lager, 10ml lemon juice and 4 drops celery bitters.
Shot cocktail: Baikaloff's Water
40ml Mamont vodka, 7.5ml homemade lime and kaffir leaf cordial, ¾ shisho leaf, 2 drops Regan's Orange Bitters.
Infusion: Robert Falcon Vodka
1 litre Mamont Vodka infused with 150g frieze dried wild blueberries and 10g smoked beef jerky.
Team The Hangover
Michele Reina and Tommaso from the Looking Glass Cocktail Club
Long drink: Siberian Soup
45ml Mamont Vodka, 20ml dry vermouth, 10ml saffron liqueur, 10ml Reina Lab Campi Elisi aquavit, 25ml egg white, 20ml lemon juice.
Shot cocktail: Volcano Sauce
45ml Mamont Vodka, 30ml Reina Lab Turbo Tomato cordial, 5ml Pimento Dram liqueur, 3 dash chilli-mango bitters and 20ml lemon juice
Infusion: Frozen Mammoth Balls
1 litre Mamont Vodka infused with 1 Tonka bean.
Team Salt 'n' Sauce
Chris Inglis and Miran Cauhan from The Bon Vivant
Long drink: Firelighter
45ml Mamont Vodka, 15ml Muscatel, 5ml pickled herring vinegar, apple and thyme beetroot powder.
Shot cocktail: The New World
35ml Mamont Vodka, 20ml Argentinian Torrontes organic wine, 10ml lime/sea salt & rosemary oleo sacrum.
Infusion: Earth Water
250ml mamont Vodka infused with 2 violet stones, 10 grams caster sugar and 2 grams edible clay (betanzomyne) for 6 hours, shaking every hour.
Team The Fuzzy Muddlers
Clare Madden from The Grosvenor Café and Joshua Mark Thomas from The Lane
Long drink: The Perfect Serve
50ml Mamont vodka, 25ml pear pickle infusion, 12.5ml ginger pickle infusion, 12.5ml pear liqueur, 1 egg white and 50ml tonic water.
Shot cocktail: Mosco Mule
15ml crème de mure, 25ml Mamont Vodka, 12.5ml whole milk, 12.5ml double cream, 1 whole lemon zest and 5g sugar.
Infusion: Liquid Lunch
1 litre Momont Vodka infused with 300g rendered bacon fat, 100ml clear honey, 1 whole orange slice, half a lemon slices and 3 dashes whiskey barrel aged bitters.