Legends of the cocktail industry gathered in New York for the first ever Martin Miller’s Gin Masters Competition on Sunday 9 November. Death & Co, the coolest bar in the US, was the arena for teams of Master Mixologists and Barmen from the UK and the US, competing against each other in this famous Speakeasy setting. Their goal – to win the inaugural Martin Miller’s Gin Masters title and the Trophy – a beautiful 1930’s silver cocktail shaker, used during Prohibition.
There were two rounds – the Original Cocktail and the Classic Cocktail – mixed in front of a panel of illustrious judges, never before gathered under the same roof. It included internationally renowned cocktail expert Sasha Petraske, Ann Rogers, founder of the New Orleans’ annual ‘Tales of The Cocktail’, Tom Sandham, Editor of the UK’s ‘Class’ Magazine and Dave Wondrich, one of the world’s foremost authorities on cocktails and their history. Despite the ‘Special Relationship’ between the UK and the US, there was a palpable air of tension in the run-up to the competition and the prospect of performing in the company of their peers before world-famous judges, resulted in a few unsteady hands!
But these boys came up with some truly inventive creations. The winner with the Best Original Cocktail was Sam Ross, from New York’s famous Milk and Honey Bar with his attention-grabbing ‘Palin’s Christmas Punch’. The Second Prize for his original cocktail creation went to US Team Member, Thad Vogler for his great-tasting ‘Mosel Cocktail’. The third prize was awarded to Giles Looker, Team UK for his Boat Race cocktail, ‘The London Cup’. The winner of Best Team overall was Team US, made up of Sam Ross, Daniel Shoemaker, Vincenzo Marianella, Giuseppe Gonzalez, Jamie Boudreau, Thad Vogler and Erik Adkins. Perhaps the most coveted prize of all – the Best Bar Banter award – went to Team UK, for Ben Reed, Giles Looker, Jason Scott and Sean Muldoon’s chat behind the bar, keeping the judges and audience informed and amused, whilst mixing a colourful selection of patriotic cocktails.
Winning Cocktail Recipe
Created by Mixologist, Sam Ross, Team US (Milk & Honey, NY)
Palin’s Christmas Punch
- 12oz/360ml Martin Miller’s Gin Westbourne Strength
- 12oz/360ml Fresh lemon juice
- 10oz/300ml Demerara date syrup*
- 14oz/420ml Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur
- 1 1/2 oz/45ml Absinthe
- 1/2 oz/15ml Regan’s Orange Bitters #6
- One bottle of dry Champagne
In a large pitcher, muddle the peel of two lemons with a little sugar to extract the oils, pour all ingredients (except Champagne) into pitcher and stir briefly with ice, strain into punch bowl, top with champagne, float lemon ice and stir and serve in punch cups. Garnish with Absinthe dates.
Demerara date syrup: Stir 2 parts demerara sugar into 1 part water. Drop a bag of crushed dates in and leave for three days. Strain through coffee filter to eliminate sediment.
Lemon ice: Drop lemon wheels into a small plastic container filled with water and place in freezer -voilà!
Absinthe date: With an eye dropper, drop 3-4 drops of absinthe into the top of a date.
Second Place Cocktail Recipe
Created by Mixologist Thad Vogler, Team US
- 1 1/2 oz/45ml Martin Miller’s Gin Westbourne Strength
- 1 1/2 oz/45ml Mosel Spatlese Riesling
- 2 dashes homemade biodynamic Cherry Bitters
- 2 dashes homemade biodynamic Peach Bitters
Stir over chunk ice, strain into a chilled coupe.
Third Place Cocktail Recipe
Created by Mixologist Giles Looker, Team UK.
The London Cup
- 50ml/2oz Martin Miller’s Gin Westbourne Strength
- 50ml/2 oz Martini Rosso
- 30ml/1 oz Campari
- 30ml/1oz Cointreau
- 50m/2ozl fresh pink grapefruit juice
Mix all ingredients. Top with Fever Tree lemonade and garnish with slices of cucumber, lemon, strawberry, pink grapefruit, blackberry. Add a sprig of mint and serve in a jug with two rocks glasses.