In the beginning of October it was that time of the year again: the qualifications for Bacardi Legacy. This cocktail competition is one of the biggest in the bar industry, and it challenge bartenders to create a modern classic and develop their own brand as bartenders. Finland was one of the last countries to have their qualifications done, at the after party of annual FinnBar - convention. Rusty Bar in Katajanokka acted as the stage for this battle.
Ten of the most promising recipes had been chosen to battle it out on a Monday evening 4th of October. The panel of judges had a difficult task ahead of them, trying to work out who would be three bartenders to make it to the North European Finals in London in the beginning of November. Timo Siitonen from A21 Decades, Dickie Cullimore from Bacardi, Jaana Vainio from Shaker magazine and Natalia Tolmatsova from White Trash Disease -blog were still smiling before the first contestant climbed on to the stage.
First up was Jami Järvinen, who works in Roster Bar in the Kauppatori area in Helsinki. His story was build around the first definition of the world cocktail found in a New York based newspaper in 1806, and also the recipe of Old Fashioned cocktail.
Matias Parkkinen from Bronda Restaurant had created an all year around version of the loved Gluehwein. Matias moved to Helsinki couple of years ago from the North, and has been serving Gluehwein during the cold winters, but always missed those warming flavors during the summer when warm drinks weren't the first choice.
My own creation Plan B was inspired by sustainable bartending. In our bar A21 Decades we use a lot of egg whites for Sours, and I felt bad every single time when separating the eggs and just tossing away the egg yolk. So I decides to create a cocktail around this misused ingredient. I combined easy to get ingredients like basil, honey and black pepper, and used Bacardi Ocho as the backbone for this fresh and light flip.
Antti Kuitunen wanted to offer a bit of Finnish culture for our international judge Dickie, and had decided to have his presentation in Finnish and have it interpreted to English by his Kiwi friend.
Juho Eklund from Trillby and Chadwik had named his drink "The Escapist". The fresh cilantro in his drink certainly took in a different place and time.
Mika Ammunet, who was celebrating his birthday, had taken cocktail part in five fundamental parts. The cocktail was called Give Me Five! and was a modern version of Cosmopolitan.
Sampsa Tukia was the only bartender coming from outside Helsinki. Representing Shaker Jyväskylä, he had created a drink inspired by his granny who used to take him pick mushrooms and berries like lingonberries.
Mikko Karjunen from Grotesk told that he usually graves a hangover drink but feels too bad to have one. So he decided to create a hangover cocktail which would have all the things you need when feeling a bit down and tired.
Eetu Topo from Lilla E was introducing us to a new category called Pickle. This nordic drink category lies on the staple ingredient in nordic cuisine, vinegar.
Daniel Woodward from Roster had based his drink on his own family heritage, and named it after their family The Woodward Cocktail.
It was a tight competition, and we were very happy to hear that top four of Finnish qualifications could have easily battled with the bartenders in UK finals. Me, Daniel and Eetu were waiting for the results nervously. When our judge and journalist in Shaker Magazine, Jaana Vainio, started to take photos of us while Jarkko the Brandambassador for Bacardi Finland was giving his speech, I started guessing that we might be the top three.
And I guessed it right! For a second year in a row, me and Daniel Woodward made our way to the North European Finals, and Eetu Topo is joining us in London. Next week we are going to do all we can to represent Finland in the best possible way. On Tuesday evening we will know, who will continue their journey into the Global Finals in Berlin in May!