Luxardo Cocktail Campione 2015
29 Jun 2015
David Hamilton Boyd
I’ve always been very familiar with the Luxardo range and have used it throughout my career, so when I heard about the 2014 Luxardo Cocktail Campione, I knew I had to enter.
For me, cocktail competitions have always been a creative outlet; they’re what keep me fresh and original. Entry requirements to each competition are always so different, which lets me push concepts and themes as far as possible. It such an amazing feeling when all the pieces of the cocktail puzzle come together and you’ve created a story by mixing a drink and carefully putting together the presentation. I love that.
My Luxardo journey started at the London heats. The theme of the competition was Italian inspiration. I knew from the start I didn’t want to serve anything someone else could have thought of. So I completely dissected the concept of the entry requirements and looked at what made Italy so good at growing fruit. I did my research and found that Italy is the most volcanic region in Europe and it’s because of this, the soil is perfect to grow wonderful rich fruit full of flavour which Luxardo uses to produce their range. A little bit of research and I already had the backbone to my cocktail; fire, volcanoes and elements of smoke to celebrate the regrowth of the beautiful flavours created by the fertile land. Simple, now I just need the main focal point.
I wanted a powerful link to Luxardo and everything it stood, for so I used the Luxardo family’s history. The Luxardo family have had some tough times throughout history but have always managed to fight back, protecting their family and produce. I felt the perfect symbol of this determination would be the Phoenix from the Flames. The Phoenix representing the family of course.
Mixing at the heats was great fun and it was wonderful to stand next to the UK’s best guys and girls. Seeing what they had to bring to the table and trying the amazing variety of entries along the way was a privilege. My cocktail must have struck a chord with the judges, as before I knew it I had touched down in Padua, Italy for the Grand Finale! Just goes to show, a little bit of research went a long way. Securing my place in the final was a crazy mix of emotions. I was instantly filled with an enormous amount of adrenaline but equally I very nervous. I did not expect to be mixing in Padua, the home of the Luxardo family. Meeting my fellow competitors, Nathan and Matt was great; they’re top gents and a pleasure to mix with. When we weren’t competing against each other during the rounds, we were in enjoying spritz’s and Negronis in the hot Italian sunshine. I’ll never forget it.
In Pauda, we were taken to the local market in search for ingredients for round one, our market creation cocktail. The colours and freshness of the produce in the market were a breath of fresh air. As I walked around, I felt a sense of relief that my winning cocktail from the heats was based entirely on these fruits. The first round was surreal, crowds gathered around the make shift bar that had been made and the heat was intense. We presented our cocktails and round one was complete. Time to explore.
We were given the opportunity meet Matteo Luxardo, at Luxardo’s very own distillery. He was a wonderful host; it was fantastic. Seeing the passion that goes into making the range bartenders use so often was really special and it really helped me with my Italian Inspiration and my winning cocktail. Dolce Vita Sunshine.
Inspiration for my final cocktail came from my time in Padua. Being judged on imagination of my ingredients, I had to pull everything together from walking the market stalls to meeting Matteo, to present a showstopper. My focus for this recipe was to show imagination with flavours from the diverse ingredients I had around me. My first thoughts what’s unusual to put in cocktails, cheese? Not many drinks I know have cheese in, it was a weird choice and risk to take but it paid off.
I won! I was crowned Luxardo Campione 2014, and I couldn’t be happier! The prize of £3000 helped me massively with side projects and having the 2014 Luxardo Cocktail Campione title has helped my presence in the industry.
My advice to entries of 2015 would be to do your homework. Luxardo has a lot of history to work with which can be tied into your drink recipe, especially relating to this year’s theme of the family. Make it stand out from the crowd but above all, respect your ingredients. Make sure the story, presentation and drink all represent the brand.
Enter the 2015 Cocktail Campione competition now! Closes 31st July 2015.
Cocktail genius with over 17 years of experience. Director of the Organic Spirit Company and Founder of the Kent Mobile Bar Company. The 2014 Luxardo Campione Winner!