Danish tequila champions
A game for the tequila throne
The global king of Tahona tequila will be crowned in Mexico on the 11th of september and Jeppe Nothlev from Copenhagen’s new boheme cocktail bar Helium is one of two bartenders who will be representing Scandinavia’s claim to the throne.
The occasion is the international Tahona Society tequila cocktail competition where bartenders are challenged to craft an innovative tequila cocktail that represents sustainable values, celebrates the flavour of agave and can be paired with a variety of authentic Mexican street food.
We met the three Danish finalists at Helium prior to the Scandinavian final to ask them how they came up with their winning recipes:
Tahona Fizz by Jeppe Nothlev from Helium
Jeppe: The Tahona Fizz was invented based on my love for the match between rhubarb and tequila. My inspiration came from the notorious tequila cocktails Margarita and Paloma two of my favorite cocktails when I’m on the other side of the bar myself. I wanted to do a cocktail that showcase the beauty you can get from working with tequila without being overly complicated.
50 ml Olmeca Altos Plata
10 ml Pedro Ximénez sherry
30 ml fresh lime juice
30 ml homemade rhubarb syrup
Dash of egg white
30 ml three cents grapefruit soda.
Garnish: Rhubarb salt on the glass + spray of Olmeca Altos Plata
The drink is shaken and served in a frozen wine glass to give the best experience of the tequila.
Jeppe: The idea to utilize the rhubarb pulp came to me when slow juicing rhubarb for the syrup we do. I stood there with all that beautiful rhubarb pulp and didn’t have the heart to throw it out. So I dried it all and blended it with salt to make this beautiful and very aromatic pink rhubarb salt. The spray of tequila on top gives a very clear scent and feeling of tequila.
Jeppe: What really fuels my respect for tequila is the patience, craftmanship and time that goes into both the agave plants, the harvesting, the processing and the distillation. This sometimes span for more than a decade! Therefore I love and prefer the unaged tequilas and in general agave spirits because it to me gives the most ‘honest’ taste of agave. The agave gives a very unique and beautiful taste to the spirit. So the least I can do is try and make cocktails that let the tequila shine through in its own way.
Why do you compete in cocktail competitions?
Jeppe: Competing in cocktail competitions to me is a way to challenge myself and my creativity, gaining inspiration, meeting new people and ultimately hone my skills as a bartender. But I try never to confuse succes in competitions with success as a bartender. In the end you will never be a better bartender than the drink you just served and the guests you just had in your bar.
Inca’s Dream by Greta Ytting from El Nacional
Greta: Inca’s dream was made to focus more on sustainability in the bar. I tried using ingredients that are not as easily perishable, like oleo saccharum made from orange and lemon peels, juices and sugar, so the whole fruit is used. After letting it sit for 24 hours it makes a delicate, yet fresh sherbet. Thereafter I added agave syrup to compliment the Olmeca Altos tequila made from 100% agave. The cocktail is inspired by a dessert from the kitchen in my restaurant, therefore I added condensed milk to round the taste and give the cocktail a touch of sweetness.
Shaken and served over rock ice in a highball glass and garnished with an Inca berry (Physalis Peruviana)
Greta: I enjoy participating in competition for the thrill and for pushing my own boundaries. Competitions are a good excuse to let the creative juices flow and work with unfamiliar ingredients or a new technique.
Aryos: Tequila is an amazing and unique sprit although very misunderstood and underrated. Stories of people drinking too much and never being able to even get near tequila again comes in many varieties.
I wanted to break this stereotype by creating a tequila cocktail everyone could find appealing and inspire others to share my passion and love for the sprit. That’s the very reason why I love being a bartender. To create delicious concoctions that thrill the senses and uplift your spirit.
By drawing inspiration from both Asia and Central America the idea of using Mango, chili, tequila and agave came together. I infuse a bottle of Olmeca with red chili peppers and fresh vanilla sticks. This infusion works amazingly in tequila – the smells and the flavors combined in the bottle are very powerful and by adding mango puré a wonderful combination is born.
The silky thick texture of mango helps smooth out the powerful smokey-spicy flavors of the infusion. To balance out the flavors I use agave sirup and freshly pressed lime juice.
These three cocktails are a wonderful example of how the same base ingredient can be taken in three completely different yet interesting and tasty directions. Congratulations to all three Danish finalists and in particular Jeppe who will be representing the Nordic countries in Mexico!
Last year’s winner
The 2016 Tahona Society crown was given to Kelsey Ramage from renowned London bar, Dandelyan. Ramage overcame fierce competition from 20 of the world’s most talented bartenders with her winning creation, Never Die. Chosen by the expert panel of judges for its exceptional taste and ingenious use of local ingredients.
Past winners include:
- Kurt Schlechter, 2010, from ZA with his cocktail My Friends’ Margarita
- Charles Joly, 2011, from US with his cocktail Eve’s Answer
- Heinz Kaiser, 2012, from AT with his cocktail La Paloma Negra
- José Luis León, 2013, with his cocktail Mama’s Soup
- Michael Capoferri, 2015, from US with his cocktail Taking Care of Business
About Altos Tequila:
Altos is made from 100% pure Agave and Tahona liquid, crafted in the heart of Los Altos, 2104 meters above sea level in the western state of Jalisco, in Mexico. Born from a collaboration between Olmeca’s own Master Distiller Jesús Hernández and the internationally renowned UK bartenders, the late Henry Besant and Dré Masso, Olmeca Altos is made in part using the 500-year-old traditional Tahona method, before being distilled in small copper pot stills.
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