The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2018

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Page 87 of 134

july 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  85 W ith the Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, this past winter and the FIFA World Cup currently dominating the attention of millions of soccer fans around the world, 2018 has proved an exciting year for a little friendly competition between countries. These international rivalries extend far beyond sporting events, however: Yet another competition, the 2018 Tío Pepe Challenge, has also been unfold- ing across the globe with representa- tives from 13 countries. And while the U.S. didn't make the cut for the World Cup, American bartenders were able to compete in the challenge this year for the very first time. It's fitting that Tío Pepe—the beloved Spanish Sherry brand owned by the bodega González Byass and renowned by the international bar commu- nity—would play host to a cocktail competition extending from Shanghai to Melbourne to New York City. Culminating in a final showdown in Tío Pepe's hometown of Jerez, Spain, the competition began with masterclasse- sin each locale; during the sessions, González Byass Brand Ambassador Álvaro Plata taught attendees about the finer points of the category and how to pour Sherry with a venencia, a tool traditionally used to extract the liquid from the barrel. These tips would come in handy during the semifinals, where contend- ers tested their Sherry knowledge through a blind tasting and dem- onstrated their proficiency with the venencia in addition to creating an original Sherry-based cocktail. The 13 lucky competitors traveled to Jerez for the finals, where they presented their cocktails to the panel of judges: Plata; Vicky González, International Marketing Manager for González Byass and fifth-generation member of the González family; Daniele Dalla Pola, famed mixologist and owner of Nu Lounge in Bologna, Italy; JP Fetherston, Beverage Director for Drink Company in Washington, D.C.; and Joao Vicente, the winner of the 2017 Tío Pepe Challenge. While inspiration for the cocktails was varied, it always seemed to channel a personal touch or specific experience: Jiani Duan from China was inspired by the tea her grandfather used to brew for her, while Eduardo Nava from Mexico drew inspiration from Mexico City's hummingbirds, which are believed to bring good luck. After mixing cocktails and participat- ing in the blind tasting in the hours leading up to the final round of the competition, the finalists spent the eve- ning in front of an audience of judges, friends, family, press, and members of the González family to showcase their venencia skills. It was a close contest, but in the end, Eduardo Nava from Mexico was crowned the winner. "Sherry gives a complexity of flavors to a cocktail, and it's a good base for low-alcohol cocktails. Tío Pepe was the ideal Fino for my recipe because of its freshness and flavor," Nava said. "I'm very happy and grateful for winning, but more than anything I'm motivated to continue learning, working, and sharing experiences like the Tío Pepe Challenge. It's an experience I will never forget!" With such a global presence repre- sented in this year's competition, we can only wait patiently to see which newcomers might rise to the challenge in 2019. *Although The Tasting Panel generally prints recipes in ounces, international recipes are typically measured in milliliters. by Jesse Hom-Dawson PHOTOS COURTESY OF TIO PEPE MEXICO Name: Eduardo Nava City: Mexico City Establishment: Licorería Limantour Cocktail: Gurrumino ◗ 60 ml Tío Pepe Fino ◗ 30 ml canary seed orgeat ◗ 10 ml yuzu juice ◗ Garnish: carrot WINNER

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