Bartender Brian McGrory, from award-winning Cask in Cork, earned a place among some of the world’s best at the annual Opihr World Adventure Cocktail Competition Global Final held in Marrakech, Morocco, last Tuesday 19th September.
Brian, who’s 23 years old, was attending his first cocktail competition. He, as well as all the participants, was tasked with recreating the drink that won him the national rounds. Contenders also faced a surprised challenge: they were given 24 hours to create a second Opihr Gin cocktail using local spices and ingredients from the world-famous Medina in the walled city of Marrakesh and from spice gardens outside Marrakesh, a key location on the ancient spice route which is at the heart of Opihr.
The winner was US bartender Aaron Pollack and there was an honourable mention for Michael Rambags from the Netherlands who was acknowledged as the runner-up.
Judge and Opihr Gin Master Distiller, Joanne Moore, commented: “It was such a tough decision to choose the winner but Aaron is very deserving; he told the stories behind his serves so well and showed great skill. I’m really looking forward to maintaining our relationship with him in the years ahead and I hope his Spice Route adventure prize gives him even more great memories of the competition.”
Two days prior to the final, participants were sent on an adventure that channeled the essence of Opihr, with the group visiting Medina on Monday afternoon to source local ingredients and props to bring their cocktails to life for the judges. They also went to Marrakech’s leading cocktail bar, Baromètre, where they met the owners and were allowed to experiment behind the bar.
On the morning of the competition, the group travelled to Paradis du Safran, a gorgeous spice garden in the Ourika Valley, to learn about saffron and to pick their own organic spices and herbs.
The 10 finalists in the Opihr World Adventure Cocktail Competition 2017 were:
– Gorge Camorra – Australia
– Marius Kohne – Germany
– Filippo Laccu – Italy
– Brian McGrory – Ireland
– Carla Molina Ruiz – United Kingdom
– Giritharan ‘Giri’ Panchakaran – Malaysia
– Cesar Perez II – U.S.
– Aaron Pollock – U.S.
– Michael Rambags – Netherlands
– Patrick Vercambre – Belgium
More information: opihr.com/revealing-global-finalists-2017