With the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge looming around the corner, bartenders over here in Australia have begun the preparations for the State Finals that are due to start soon, with the National Finals not far behind. The winner of the National Finals in Sydney will receive $10,000 in cash, $5,000 worth of stock for the venue and will be flown to compete in Trinidad in the Global Final!
Meanwhile island2island, the distributor for Angostura Bitters and Rums in Australia, are currently running a Barrel Aged Cocktail Competition in each state. Participating venues will have aged their cocktails for a maximum of 4 weeks in custom made 5 litre newly charred American oak barrels, seasoned with dry sherry.
I was invited to visit and taste cocktails at 6 different cocktail bars in Adelaide, prepared by some of the best bartenders currently slinging drinks in South Australia. The cocktails all had to be made using the Angostura 7 Year Old rum as the base spirit and either partly or completely aged in the barrel.
The competition is all about showcasing and rewarding venues’ creativity, innovation and knowledge as well as introducing drinkers to these oak aged cocktails.
The winning bar team will be treated to a master class and a dinner at one of the finest restaurants in the state of the winning venue with the master distiller of Angostura Rum, John Georges. In addition, each member of the winning team will receive a bottle of soon to be released Angostura Limited Edition 2013 rum signed by the master distiller.
Eden Dining Room & Bar
Angostura ManzanillaOur first stop was the Eden Dining Room & Bar at the popular beachside suburb of Glenelg. The cocktail named Angostura Manzanilla showed innovation in how it was created by fermenting apples, honey, star anise, vanilla bean, cinnamon quill and lime juice in a demijohn before adding Angostura 7 year old in the mix to raise the alcohol volume to stop the fermentation.
The aged concoction was served alongside Kingfish sashimi, lime segments, grapefruit compressed celery, micro celery and celery salt, which nicely complimented the flavours of the cocktail.
The honeyed cocktail had nicely balanced notes of apples, fruits, sherry and nutty flavours with creamy vanilla and apples to finish it off. Despite the honey the cocktail was not too sweet and works well as an aperitif style serve.
Escaping the windy beachside to the shelter of the city we arrived at the warm and atmospheric lounge bar Casablabla, where the team at the venue had prepared us a twist on a classic Manhattan style drink.
Interestingly the Monarch Butterfly combined Angostura 7 year old rum with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, sweet vermouth and Grand Marnier balanced with Black Walnut Bitters after ageing in the barrel.
Finally before serving, a dash of Xocolate bitters are stirred down with ice and the drink garnished with a black cherry infused with Angostura 7 Year Old Rum.
For the serve you are given two choices of drinking vessels, one a chilled Martini glass or the other a hand made Irish oak cup that adds new dimensions to the already intriguing drink.
I am a huge fan of classic style drinks and though it may sound weird at first, the combination of Rum and Bourbon works surprisingly well in this cocktail each adding depth and their unique characteristics to it.
Udaberri had prepared us an Old Fashioned style drink called From Trinidad to Bodega.
The aged ingredients consist of two types of sherry, Crème de Gingembre (ginger liqueur), Angostura bitters and is stirred down over ice and served with an orange zest creating a lively and refreshingly fruity cocktail.
Fumo Blu or The Blue Smoke, at the trendy East End of the city, is an underground 50s style cocktail lounge with tropical fish aquariums, diner style booths and stools by the bar for those who prefer to be closer in on the action.
Made with Angostura 7 year old rum and Angostura 7 year old rum infused with vanilla beans, Pedro Ximenez, Cherry Brandy and Montenegro the Barrel of Butterflies cocktail comes beautifully presented on a plate, served with Angostura Bitters and flamed orange and a side of Angostura Rum toffees. Truly a decadent combination that ought to satisfy that sweet tooth.
While you wait for your drink be careful not to lose yourself in the never ending detail of the paintings and other decoration. They've even got an eerily lifelike deer head on the wall so you don't ever have to be afraid of not having a drinking companion.
As for their cocktail, the Serpent's Mouth is aged for four weeks in the barrel and consists of Angostura 7 Year Old Rum, Amaro Nino and apricot liquor. The cocktail is served in a huge brandy balloon with a long mandarin zest.
The result is an incredible, perfumed drink you will want to sip and savour slowly while comfortably seated on the chesterfield.
Our final stop and last cocktail was at Cushdy on Hindley Street, home for the Adelaide Spirits Society that features special guests and regular tastings for the curious. Cushdy has also been nominated several times for the best Australian Cocktail Bar of the Year and you can see why from the quality of service and effort they put into the cocktails.
Just what the Doctor Ordered is made with Angostura 7 year old, Punt E Mes, Salamandre Eau de Coing and Angostura Bitters.
The drink is garnished with a pickled black cherry and served in a chilled glass. It's a very richly flavoured drink with a nice punch and would probably be a nice ‘by the fireplace’ drink or an aperitif.
Next time you’re at the bar and see a small oak barrel adorned with the Angostura logo, be sure to ask your bartender an Angostura Barrel Aged Cocktail, you may not get another chance as they are in limited supply for now.
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