Very interesting things happen when you take a group of bartenders, mix in some of the best spirits and cocktails in the world and then stick them in a hotel together. And I’m glad I waited until the morning to write this post because we’ve got some killer material. Whenever an Australian does a striptease to Waltzing Matilda, on a boat, you know it’s going to be one of "those" nights. But more on that later, there are the G’Vine competition updates to talk about and we are coming closer to crowning a winner in the G’Vine Connoisseur Program.
After a night of alluded to extracurricular activities by the 12 G’Vine competitors, Day 2 started with a session on aromas. These aromatic components are key to a good gin, especially when formulating one. After learning about how humans perceive aromas there was a test to put this new-found knowledge into practice.
The test of the day was the free pouring challenge where each competitor had to pour freestyle (i.e. no jigger) and was judged on the accuracy of their pour. The previous night's actives had a marked effect on their performance. Basically, it showed what alcohol consumption and lack of sleep can do to otherwise sharp bartenders.
If any one of the bartenders had opted to drink fewer drinks or hit the hay an hour earlier, they could have taken the challenge easily. But, cocktails and sleep deprivation were the great equalizers and no one had a good round. Out of 60 drink poured there were only 2 perfect pours. Even worse, every Negroni poured was short. It wasn’t pretty, but it was equal.
Afterwards, there was the written test that really tested their depth of knowledge on gin. Definitely not an easy test, and looking over a copy of the exam, I would have failed. If I studied Gary Regans’ Gin Compendium that might have helped.
For the most part, it was an easier day than Day 1 challenge wise, but because of the previous night's celebratory mood the bartenders, I suspect, found it far more challenging than it appeared to me.
After a quick break and a beer at a brassier near the hotel, our G’Vine hosts took us through the old part of Cognac and down to the river for a boat cruise to the Michelin rated La Ribaudiere restaurant for dinner.
Now the cruise started off with Gin and Tonics and was relatively quiet, but aged octogenarians these bartenders are not. It started off with one song and ended up with a nearly naked Australian sing Waltzing Matilda on the stern of the boat. Surprisingly it gets even more interesting, there are even pictures*. More on that in the wrap-up post, because there is still Day 3 to discuss and the winner of the G’Vine Connoisseur Program.
* Pictures will be posted shortly, I have limited bandwidth on the wireless network here so uploading 200 more pictures is an extremely slow process.