Words by: Simon Difford (sponsored by Jose Cuervo)
Congratulations to Koji Esashi, the winner of Jose Cuervo’s next Don of Tequila cocktail competition. He wins a crop of agave in Tequila and a batch of Jose Cuervo tequila labelled in his own name.
With bartenders from 17 countries competing at the global final it was Koji Esashi from Japan who triumphed to be named Jose Cuervo's next Don of Tequila. In the first challenge of its kind, bartenders battled it out for a chance to win a unique prize: a trip to Tequila to harvest their own crop of agave on the Jose Cuervo estate, blend it into a unique tequila and win the batch, labelled under their own name.
Jose Cuervo Dons of Tequila 2015 winner and Dons. L to R: Don Louis, Dons of Tequila winner Koji Esashi, Dona Araceli, Don Francisco
Don Koji (as he is now known) joined bartenders from 16 other countries to compete at the Jose Cuervo distillery for the global final. Over 1,800 bartenders entered the first round of the competition, which led to national finals and then ultimately the global final where the finalists were expected to show the judges they had the "passion, grit and cojones" to become a don.
Koji's winning cocktail recipe is called 'Dons of Soul':
48ml Jose Cuervo Especial
20ml Fresh lime juice
10ml Agave nectar
25g Fresh tomato
5g Paprika (red)
5g Paprika (yellow)
1g Hot chilli
3 twists Pink pepper
1 drop Coriander bitter
Glass: Martini Chiller Glass
Crushed ice with three kinds of Mexican herbs
Add lime peel
Shake all ingredients over ice, straining into the chiller glass and garnish.
Koji's story of the cocktail:
"This cocktail is an interpretation of the signature Mexican classic, the Margarita, made with the classic Jose Cuervo tequila. Each of the components within this drink has a different taste, signifying the unique taste of this place [Tequila, Mexico].
The cocktail is made up of three colours - red, white and green, like the Mexican flag with the passion of Tequila.
The appearance and the taste will give pleasure to visitors of the distillery. It's designed to make people happy in La Rojeña."
The runners-up are shown here with Koji Esashi in the middle; on the left Erica Duca from United Arab Emirates and on the right Sung-Min Park from Korea.
Jose Cuervo Dons of Tequila 2015 grand finale finalists and judges. L to R: Benjamin Padron Novoa, Esther Medina Cuesta, Lee Daniel Hobbs, Laura Duca, Don Louis, Koji Esashi, Dona Araceli, Don Francisco, Sung-Min Park, Stefanos Athanasiou, Julio Bermejo