On a sweltering Tuesday afternoon,this group of bartenders lowered the temperatures with their cooling mixes. In a span of a few minutes,each one took to the bar,whipped up a delicious drink with a tequila base and then proudly presented his concoction to the judges – Delhi-based sommelier Magandeep Singh,Pune’s food writer Karen Anand and ace golfer Jaideep Patwardhan. A total of 16 bar men from different lounges and hotels in the city competed at the semi-finals of the 1st Corralejo Teqnicians Mixology Challenge 2012. Innovation,experiments and fruity,summery drinks dominated the event.
The contest,organised by Corralejo Tequila,its Indian representative Two Friends,and Singh,was held at Red Zen,Courtyard By Marriott Pune City Centre. Bartenders from the host hotel,Area 51,Stone Water Grill,Ista Hotel,Hyatt Regency Pune,Oakwood Premier,Ramee Guestline Hotel,Pune Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre,Westin,Amby Valley and Pesto Pesto presented their creativity in slender glasses. From Guava Maria,Bohemia Breeze and Mexican Lady to Green Gambler,Liberry,Monk’s Magic,and Purple Rain,the bar was decorated with interesting drinks. Each turn was followed by a round of tasting. The judges provided inputs to the contestants about balance,distinct flavours and the use of fresh fruits and syrups. “We wanted to play with a new spirit. When the idea initially took shape,my team (Wi-Not) created 76 recipes with tequila,each one crazier than the other. The whole aim is to take away from the ‘shooting’ concept of tequila,” Singh said. The semi-finals began in Delhi and then moved to Pune and Mumbai. It will now travel to Chennai and Kolkata. A total of 10-12 finalists will be selected from the five cities for the grand finale in Delhi on April 9. Miss Mexico Elisa Najera,the brand ambassador for Corralejo,will join the team at the finals.
What the judges are looking for is ‘taste’. “The ingredients should be easy to find and the recipes quirky yet well-balanced. It’s not about alcohol,but about taste,” Singh stressed. The winner – the first ‘Teqnician’ – will win a trip to the Corralejo distillery in Mexico and his recipe will be featured in a book of 10 cocktail recipes.
At the Pune leg,Anup Basnet of Red Zen,made a ‘Moonlight’ cocktail using tequila,orange chunks,orange peel and cranbery juice. It was shaken and served. Hailing from Nepal,Basnet is two and a half years old in the business. He’s trained on the job. His favourite drink? “Green Apple Martini with a twist of blue curacao,” he quips. Another bartender,Pankaj Kamble of Ramee Guestline began his presentation with a story that inspired the drink ‘Emerald’ with key ingredients of kiwi,pineapple,lime,and tequila. “Some need improvement,while others have impressed us,” said Singh. “In Delhi,contestants used roses,grape fruit and even liquid nitrogen! It’s interesting to see what they come up with,” he added.