Who Won the Angostura Bitters Canadian Cocktail Challenge?

Angostura Bitters

Angostura Bitters

This past week Vancouver had the honour of hosting the Canadian championship of the Angostura Bitters Canadian Cocktail Challenge, with the winner going on to the World Championship.  Four bartenders from across Canada were competing, with the competition being held at The Blackbird Public House & Oyster Bar.  Each competitor made 2 different cocktails each which were given to a panel of 3 judges.  One of the cocktails from each competitor was also being made at the bar for each of the audience members to try.  The audience then was asked to vote for the “People’s Choice”.   Read on to learn about What are Angostura Bitters, the competitors, and their cocktails.

What are Angostura Bitters?

According to Wikipedia “Angostura bitters, often simply referred to as angostura, is a concentrated bitters made of water, 44.7% alcohol, herbs and spices,[1] by House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago. It is typically used for flavoring beverages, or (less often) food. The bitters were first produced in the town of Angostura (Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela) (hence the name), and do not contain angostura bark. The bottle is easily recognisable by its distinctive over-sized label.”

Who are the Competitors?

  • Colin Tait has been bartending for around 15 years, starting in Edinburgh in his native Scotland. In 2010, he jumped at the opportunity to come to Calgary.
  • Shane Mulvany was born in Cavan, Ireland and started bartending in a family friend’s pub at 16.
    In Spring last year, he moved to Toronto with his wife and has worked as the bar manager at Paese Ristorante and Bar Chef. He is currently the head bartender at The Chase in Toronto’s financial district.
  • Dale Styner started bartending at eight years old. His 21 year career in the industry began in Calgary at 14 as a dishwasher.
    His life of a bartender has paid his way from Calgary to Vancouver to South America and across Europe.
  • Simon Hooper started his career almost 10 years ago in Sydney, Australia, where he trained as a chef. Simon has spent the last 5.5 years living in Canada.  He has worked as head bartender in some of the top bars in Toronto and Vancouver.
Dale Styner and Colin Tait

Dale Styner (L) and Colin Tait (R)

Shane Mulvany and Simon Hooper

Shane Mulvany (L) and Simon Hooper (R)

The Cocktails

The cocktails that the audience were given to try were:

  • Headhunter (Colin)
  • Trinidad Forest Fire (Simon)
  • Brian Lara Swizzle (Shane)
  • Smashed Apple (Dale)

My two favourite drinks of the evening were the Headhunter and the Brian Lara Swizzle.  The Headhunter was off dry and had a woodsy, sweet spice and a hint of orange flavours.  Nice smooth mouthfeel without any sourness, and had a constant bubble/froth on the top.  The Brian Lara Swizzle was served in a tall glass and had pink grapefuit colour, aroma and flavour.  On the palate besides grapefuit, you also tasted grapefruit peel, lime, sweet spices, and woodiness.   It had a medium level of acidity making the drink bright and giving you a mouthwatering finish.

The winner of the judged part of the competition was Shane Mulvany with his Brian Lara Swizzle, and the People’s Choice winner was Dale Styner with his Smashed Apple cocktail.

Brian Lara Swizzle

  • 2oz Angostura 5 Year Old Rum
  • 5 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • 2oz Carrot Juice
  • 1oz Lime Juice
  • 1/2oz Orange Sherbert*
  • 1/2oz Cardamom Syrup**

Add all ingredients into flared pilsner glass, add crushed ice and swizzle using a swizzle stick.

Garnish with pineapple leaves.

Special Instructions:

*Orange Sherbert Zest of 3 Oranges Juice from 2 Oranges 125g Sugar 1/4 Tesapoon of Salt Muddle sugar and zest then add other ingrediebts, let sit for 3 hours and strain

**Cardamom Syrup 10 Crushed Cardamom seeds 200g Sugar 100ml Water Heat for 30 minutes until sugar dissolves. Strain, allow to cool and bottle

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