Event Recap: Grey Goose Pour Masters Calgary

Notable was on hand June 17th to judge GREY GOOSE’s Pour Masters Competition as it kicked off in Calgary alongside GREY GOOSE Global Ambassador Ludo Miazga and celebrity mixologist Marian Beke. Twelve of Calgary’s finest bartenders threw down, and their entries, all of which included GREY GOOSE Cherry Noir, were judged on their inspiration, presentation skills, visual appearance (colour of the cocktail, garnish, and glassware), nose, taste and flavour profile.

GREY GOOSE Cherry Noir is vodka flavoured with black cherries, some of which are sourced from orchards nestled in the southwest of France, and is layered with spice. In addition to GREY GOOSE Cherry Noir, each cocktail was to include a local ingredient, a French ingredient, and two additional ingredients of their choice. Garnishes were considered optional, but in competition would you ever turn down that option?

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Jimmy Nguyen (from the yet to open Cube Lounge on 1st Street) won. His charmer involved filtering GREY GOOSE Cherry Noir through freshly ground coffee in some sort of distillation process beyond our skillset. The entry had Cherry Marnier, Tarragon and Gomme in the mix and was served with French-style duck liver pate. His Vietnamese background, together with the French vodka, inspired the drink with the cocktail’s name, “Par-Asian,” a clever play on Parisian. Jimmy Nguyen competed alongside his fellow Cube Lounger Franz Swinton. Franz says the key to a good cocktail is “balance, understanding flavours, quality ingredients,” and finds inspiration in amazing dining experiences and trips. 

Brayden Astalos of Black Betty came second and appeared to match the strength of his “Vanille Noir” cocktail. His citrusy entry included Japanese sake as well as black currant, French brandy and Chartreuse liquor. Who knew it was more than just a colour? 

Rounding out the top three was Lee Peppnick of Living Room Restaurant, who sources his creative juices from fresh ingredients and classic cocktails. He took a simplistic approach to crafting his “Cherry Noir Sour,” which looked great in fantastic vintage glassware and tasted even better. The Cherry Noir Sour is set to be an instant classic in Calgary’s burgeoning cocktail scene. 

Vancouver’s Pour Masters Competition happened on June 19 and the cocktails continue across Canada with Toronto on June 24 and Montreal on June 26. Ludo Miazga will select one national winner to travel to France to compete in GREY GOOSE 10 with leading bartenders from around the world. Here’s hoping it’s our man Jimmy.

Photos by Darren Roberts Photography