Christian Tirel from The House of Coco Tang in Nottingham, England, was crowned the winner of the UK heats of the International Finlandia Vodka Cup, the world’s longest running vodka cocktail competition, and will head to Lapland for the global final. Tirel beat out 11 finalists after regional heats in Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol and London. Tirel impressed the judges with such cocktails as “Finnish’d with Thyme to Spare,” made with Finlandia Cranberry, St-Germain, white crème de cacao, lemon and Tabasco and served with crushed ice and thyme.
The fifth annual World Margarita Championship at the Tucson Culinary Festival tested the skills of 14 bartenders as they employed jalapeños, limequats, sage, mesquite-smoked rosemary, crème de cassis and cucumber-infused ice, among other ingredients, to create some of the most innovative Margaritas. The concoctions were demonstrated two at a time, "Iron Chef-Style," to a panel of judges, including Barbara Fairchild of Bon Appétit, Tony Abou-Ganim and Robert Plotkin. Harold Garland of Cup Café at Hotel Congress won the top honor of making the World’s Greatest Margarita, as determined by the judges. His "Marguerite Nouveau" included blood orange foam, fresh key lime juice, coriander-infused agave nectar, fresh grapefruit juice and Regan’s Orange Bitters. The People’s Choice went to Pete Hoge of Kingfisher Bar & Grill with the help of Harrison Hameroff of Bluefin for their "El Reyes Del Reyes" Margarita.