Notable.ca editors in cities across the country were spoiled with creative and delicious Grey Goose cocktails as we sipped and savoured from the judging panel at the Grey Goose Pour Masters Competition over the past few weeks. Notable.ca, along with Grey Goose Global Ambassador Ludo Miazga and world-renowned celebrity mixologist Marian Beke from Nightjar in London, had the difficult task of deciding on the best cocktail made with Grey Goose Cherry Noir in competitions in Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.
The search for the country’s best Cherry Noir flavoured vodka cocktail involved 47 of Canada’s top bartenders. They were tasked to create a cocktail using a local ingredient from their hometown (and describe the often nostalgic and personal inspiration behind this choice), a French ingredient inspired by Grey Goose’s heritage, and, of course, the hero ingredient, Grey Goose Cherry Noir flavoured vodka. Made with handpicked black cherries from the Basque region of France, Cherry Noir is Grey Goose’s latest addition to its family of flavoured vodka.
We agreed on one thing from the experience: judging a cocktail competition was no easy task, especially when the judges have only minutes to assess competitors on everything from their overall presentation to the visual appearance, smell and taste of the cocktail, and how Grey Goose Cherry Noir was incorporated.
The regional winners amazed us with their creativity passion, and by demonstrating that bartending isn’t what it used to be. Mixology is increasingly seen as a skilled profession and, in fact, an art. From Oliver Stern’s elegant MariLou cocktail in Toronto and Jimmy Nguyen’s innovative use of a coffee filter in Calgary, to Vancouverite Robyn Gray’s Foie Gras-stuffed cherry garnish in his Duck Duck Goose cocktail, the 2013 competitors raised the bar for cocktail culture in Canada. The innovation and creativity that they brought to the table made this an incredibly difficult competition to judge.
After the regionals, Ludo and Marian debriefed on everyone’s cocktails, presentations and overall impact and decided on the national winner together. In the end, the 2013 Pour Masters Competition came to a dramatic finale with Montreal bartender Gabrielle Panaccio, of Le Lab Comptoir a Cocktails, claiming the top prize.
Dazzling the judges with her winning cocktail, Decoction de Printemps, Panaccio upped the ante by combining Grey Goose Cherry Noir flavoured vodka with Dolin vermouth, smoked applewood maple syrup, Lapsang Suchuong tea, and a dash of bitter tonic. A truly immersive experience inspired by a sort of ‘doctor’s potion’, or elixir, Panaccio’s concoction received top marks across the board by all judges.
As the national winner, Panaccio will move on to represent Canada and compete at the Grey Goose 10, a global mixologist competition taking place in France in September. The three regional winners – Jimmy Nguyen from Calgary, Robyn Gray from Vancouver, and Oliver Stern from Toronto – received a prizewinning trip to Tales of the Cocktails in New Orleans later this month.
Here are some of some of Canada’s best tasting cocktails, brought to you by the 2013 Grey Goose Pour Master Finalists:
By Jimmy Nguyen of Cube Lounge in Calgary
Inspired by his Vietnamese background and the French vodka, Nguyen’s Par-Asian presented a clever play on the Parisian. Mixing Cherry Marnier, Tarragon and Gomme, Nguyen got creative with the Grey Goose Cherry Noir flavoured vodka through a filter of freshly ground coffee. Served with a French-style duck liver plate, the Par-Asian charmed judges and stole the winning spot in the Calgary competition.
Duck, Duck, Goose
By Robyn Gray of Pidgin in Vancouver
Gray’s cocktail concoction impressed judges in creativity and presentation with his final masterpiece sitting in a shelled-out goose egg, garnished with a foie gras-stuffed Torchon cherry. Gray combined duck-fat washed Cognac prepared in advance with Grey Goose Cherry Noir flavoured vodka, Noilly Prat French Vermouth and orange bitters.
By Oliver Stern of the Toronto Temperance Society in Toronto
Presenting a modern spin on the Cosmopolitan, Stern combined Cointreau, Dolin dry, and Ontario cherry/Niagara cider vinegar shrub with Grey Goose Cherry Noir flavoured vodka. Simple and classic, Stern scored points with judges for noting that he considered current cocktail trends in the creation of his MariLou, like fun new twists on traditional cocktails.
Recipes and hi-res images are available here.