Toronto’s Best Mixologists Showcase their Skills at the Grey Goose Pour Masters Competition

On Monday, we got to sit on the judging panel of Toronto’s stop of the 2013 Grey Goose Pour Masters competition. After exciting competitions in Calgary and Vancouver, it was time for Toronto’s best bartenders at some of our favourite young professional (YP) establishments to showcase their talent in the art of the cocktail.

The competition took place in the breezy Berkeley Field House, where yours truly,, 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.

We have to admit, we had no idea that judging a cocktail competition would be so difficult. There are many things to consider in the overall assessment: the presentation skills of the mixologist (confidence, skill, presentation of the Grey Goose Cherry Noir product), the inspiration behind the cocktail (participants were asked to include one local ingredient and one French ingredient), the nose of the cocktail (how appealing it smelled), the visual appeal of the cocktail and, of course, the taste. The problem was- they were all delicious. From pretty, sweet and girly to stiff yet creative- these cocktails were definitely ones to remember.

First up was the animated Nishan Nepulangoda, of Blowfish Restaurant whose cocktail, “La Vie Est Belle” was served in miniature bathtubs and included ingredients like cherry heering and lime cordial made with Canadian honey and French black cherry jam and required the added touch of a carbonating system to perfect.

Next was Troy Gilchrist of Harbour 60, who crafted what he called Back to the Old House,” which he said was inspired by the fruit trees in his backyard growing up and the pies that his family would make. Special ingredients included fresh Ontario rhubarb jam, Cointreau (French) and even a quail egg. The cocktail was topped with a perfect ribbon of rhubarb.

Ayana Miller, of Jacob’s Steakhouse crafted her Bitter Sweet Endings, which featured Ontario ice wine tea, sumac berry juice, white cherry puree and egg white in addition, of course, to Grey Goose Cherry Noir. Served in a pretty martini glass, the cocktail was garnished with a black cherry, pure cocoa powder and an orange twist.

Robin Wynne of Rock Lobster made his “Vimy Ridge Cup” as a tribute to French-Canadian history and to everyone, including his grandmother, who fought in WWII. Ingredients included St. Germaine, Henry of Pelham Catherine Cuvee Rose, chamomile syrup and lavender vanilla bitters. The cocktail was served in a “victory cup” and topped with cuvee rose.

Oliver Stern of the Toronto Temperance Society impressed us with a modern spin on the Cosmopolitan with his “MariLou,” noting that a huge trend today is fun new twists on classic cocktails. It is made with Cointreau, Dolin dry, and Ontario cherry/ Niagara cider vinegar shrub. Local ingredients included fresh cherries.

Moses McIntee of L’Eat Group (Paese) made a Cerises de Dijon, which included maple syrup as the local ingredient and Dijon Mustard as the French ingredient, telling the crowd that he was relieved because he thought everyone would pick the two as well.

Rob Montgomery, Miller Tavern made a Thirty-Three and a Third, which, in addition to Grey Goose Cherry Noir, was made with whiskey (high rye content), B&B, and 2 dashes aromatic bitters. The glass was wiped with a delicious pure cherry essence.

Clayton Cooper from Soho House Toronto made a cocktail that included detail like Fresh muddled champagne grapes and fresh pressed Ontario McIntosh apple juice in addition to fresh limejuice and both Grey Goose Original and Grey Goose Cherry Noir. He said that “the harvest” was his inspiration behind the cocktail.

Wes Galloway at Weslodge made a “Cherry Valance” made with Grey Goose Cherry Noir, homemade pinot noir dessert wine, acid phosphate, ‘elemakule tiki bitters’ and ginger/vanilla tincture. The inspiration was behind the cocktail is the pairing of cherry with cola, which is achieved through the cola spices.

Adrian Stein of midtown’s Mistura created the “Belle de Provence,” made with homemade Creme de Cassis (fortified with Grey Goose), cucumber water (made with Ontario cucumbers), homemade cherry/lavender bitters (Grey Goose as base spirit) and St. Germain Elderflower, among others. It was garnished with a cucumber stuffed Grey Goose marinated cherry.

The charming Remata Clingen, from Cafe Belong crafted the very aesthetically pleasing Mon Crabby Cheri, with ingredients that included wild ginger simple syrup, small spoon crab apple jelly, champagne and- the best part- French vanilla ice cream. Served in tall glasses, the frothy drink was layered with frozen black cherries that acted as ice cubes.

Manny Contreras from Buonanotte made essentially two cocktails that were meant to be combined into one in a creative punch- both with a candy base, and of course, made with Grey Goose Cherry Noir. A unique addition to Manny’s punch was the addition of an ice ball-encased cherry.

In the end the winner was Oliver Stern of the Toronto Temperance Society, who was awarded the title of the winner of the Toronto Pour Master with his palette pleasing cosmo-esque “MariLou,” despite telling us that he “could have done a way better job” if he wasn’t so nervous. The second runner up was Rock Lobster and Fynn’s Temple Bar’s Robin Wynn and the third runner up was Remata Clingen from Cafe Belong.

Before the contest, we offered insight on what the Grey Goose Pour Masters had to say on everything from the creative inspiration behind their cocktails to what makes a good cocktail, and what they are most looking forward to with the 2013 Grey Goose Pour Masters Competition… along with their cocktail recipe. Check it out here.


Images Courtesy of: JJ Thompson