Shane Mulvanys cocktails

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

Win with your wine at the Vancouver Magazine International Wine Competition

I received this note recently, and thought that maybe there are a few wineries around that may not know about this competition.  It is always good to get your wines reviewed, and win some awards.  You spend lots of time and hard labour bringing your wines to the table.  Why not submit them?  Here is the note:

There are TWO WEEKS remaining to enter your wines in the 2010 Vancouver magazine International Wine Competition.  Please submit your entries online by Wednesday, September 15th, 2010.  Online application is available at – click on the competition logo on the homepage.

Why should you enter:

·         This is a wine competition with a difference!

·         Wines judged by style category – just the way consumers choose wine

·         Over 100 winners in 10 different style categories

·         Western Canada’s largest judging of international and domestic wines

·         Distinguished judging panel of Canada’s acknowledged experts including Masters of Wine, BC’s top sommeliers, educators, critics, journalists and buyers

·          55,000 issues of the January/February 2011 issue featuring the top 100 winners

·         The #1 selling edition that is retained by readers for year-long reference

·         Winning wines are showcased weekly as the most viewed item on Vancouver magazine’s WEEKEND FIX newsletter straight to 5,500 inboxes every Thursday

·         Top wines also featured in 19,000 copies of GuestLife Vancouver; 18,000 copies of Vancouver magazine’s CityGuide

·         All award-winning wines receive on-line exposure ( for one year featuring a wine description, bottle shot and link to the BC Liquor Store stock search page for easy access for consumers to find and purchase the wine

·         Exposure at the prestigious BIG NIGHT event that celebrates the 10 category winners paired with Vancouver magazine  Restaurant Award winners in a lavish, much-anticipated food and wine event in the spring of 2011

·         BC Liquor Stores promotion

·         BC Liquor store promotion gives unprecedented exposure to award-winning wines

·         18,000 overruns of Vancouver magazine’s January/February supplement are distributed to more than 30 participating liquor stores

Thank you for supporting this influential competition.

Yours in wine,

DJ Kearney, Chief Judge

2011 Vancouver magazine International Wine Competition

Important Dates:

ENTRY DEADLINE                                                                                             SEPTEMBER 15TH

Consolidation Point Open                                                                            September 20th

Consolidation Point Closed                                                                          October 1st

Wine Judging                                                                                                     October 27-29th

Winners Published Online                                                                            December 6th

Wine Awards Issue Available                                                                      December 20th

BCLDB Promotion Begins                                                                              February 1st

Big Night Vancouver                                                                                       February 4th