In a tough three day challenge, with seven top bar tenders from around the country vying for the title of Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS National Final, held at The Marly and its Umi restaurant in Camps Bay earlier this week, Brent Perremore of Orphanage Cocktail Emporium was named South Africa’s best Mixologist. He will represent our country against 49 other mixologists in the Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final in Scotland and in London later this month, with literary-themed cocktail challenges.
Brett said about winning the South African title: ‘Winning the opportunity to compete in the Global Final is a great honour. WORLD CLASS is about elevating the standard of mixology across the world, and I am very excited to represent South Africa in London and Scotland’. The two runners-up were Haroon Haffajee from Harry’s Cocktail Bar in Durban, and Marson Strydom from Buena Vista Social Café in Somerset West. Other finalists were Jeff Lopes of The Michelangelo Hotel, Johannesburg’s best barman; Simphiwe Ngcobo, also of The Michelangelo Hotel; Assaf Yechiel, also from Orphanage Cocktail Emporium; and Steven Saunders from The Oyster Box. The finalists were judged on the flavour balance and taste of their cocktails, aromatics, expression of the base spirit, overall presentation, brand and category knowledge, entertainment value, originality, and interaction with the judges.
The judges that evaluated the performance of the finalist bar tenders were Chef and MasterChef SA judge Pete Goffe-Wood, 2012 Global World Class Champion Tim Philip, 2013 South African World Class National winner Nick Koumbarakis (also from Orphanage Cocktail Emporium), Travis Kuhn from Pure Bar Studios, and Tim Etherington-Judge, Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador for Africa and Global Ambassador for Bulleit Bourbon.
The finalists had to go through four challenges over the three days. Judge Tim Philips said of Brent’s performance: ‘During all challenges, Brent displayed exemplary understanding and knowledge of spirits; lively interaction with the judges; originality and entertainment value; and his aromatics, flavour balance and overall presentation were superb. His performance at the Global Final will undoubtedly be exceptional’. His signature style, innovation, and attention to detail impressed the judges in the four challenges. In the first ‘Al Fresco‘ challenge, Brent created ‘King Alfonso’s Summer Punch‘, made with Tanqueray No. TEN. In the second ‘After Dark‘ challenge, he presented a theatrical Alfred Hitchcock-inspired ‘Night Flight’ with Caol Ila 12 YO, including a crow to complement his theme. In the ‘The Real McCoy‘ challenge, Brent presented ‘Mama Kuru’s Lucky Pot Pie’, made with Ron Zacapa Centenario. In the ‘Tribute to a South African Icon’ challenge, Brent’s ‘Beyond the Pines’ cocktail was a tribute to his father, which included Johnnie Walker Blue and Gold Label Reserve as ingredients.
At the function at Umi on Thursday evening, each of the seven finalists prepared their signature cocktail. The guests were invited to vote for their favourite cocktail, and Brent’s ‘Gift of Persia’ won the People’s Choice Award of the evening. His cocktail was made with 50ml Ron Zacapa, 25 ml dry vermouth, 15 ml date syrup, and 2 dashes of naartjie and cardomom bitters. Marson Strydom’s ‘Life after Death‘ was made with 50ml Don Julio, 37,5 ml Prickly Pear Shrub, 20 ml lime juice, 10ml honey water, 2 ml Angostura Bitters infused with rosemary and pistachio (right). Steven Saunders’ ‘The Smuggler‘ cocktail was made with 50ml Ron Zacapa, 25ml balsamic black cheryl raspberry syrup, 15 ml vanilla syrup, 15ml Cape White Port, 10 ml lemon juice, and 2 dashes bitters Angostura (left).
I chatted to Chef Pete, and he told me that the filming for MasterChef SA Season 3 has been completed. The series will be shown on Thursday evenings, from August onwards, going back to one program per week, after feedback from extensive market research conducted. He said that the quality of contestants has improved dramatically, being somewhat older and more mature cooks.
Umi is a Japanese style restaurant, and this was reflected in the canapés served, being lamb kebabs, chicken skewers with sesame seeds, spring rolls, and tomato and avocado salsa bites. It was a surprise to see the restaurant reduced in size by half, shedding the remaining space for La Belle Café, a sister restaurant to one with the same name in The Alphen Hotel, and also belonging to The Kove Collection of Paul Kovensky, and is due to open next week. Umi was a classy venue for the Diageo Research World Class National Final, reflecting the quality of the premium drinks brands of Diageo Reserve and the creative cocktails created.
Diageo Reserve is a portfolio of luxury beverages, including Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Johnnie Walker Platinum, Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, The Singleton, Ciroc, Ketel One, Tanqueray No. Ten, Don Julio, Ron Zacapa, Bulleit, Caol Ila, Lagavulin Islay, and Talisker.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage