G’Vine Gin Connoisseur Program (2010)

There are cocktail competitions and then there is the G’Vine Gin Connoisseur Program. Most cocktail / bartending competitions are relatively simple affairs that pit one cocktail against another with the winner having the best cocktail of the moment. Sometimes it’s as much luck as it is the whims of the judging panel. The G’Vine program is very different and the final round is going to push the competitors to the edge of their ability, not just their one good cocktail.

The G’Vine Gin Connoisseur Program (the G’Vine competition) started many months ago with a request for papers on gin marketing and the creation of signature G’Vine inspired cocktails. The written part was an interesting angle, as it would obviously require a level of intelligence and understanding about the world of cocktails and especially gin. It would also filter out a lot of the lucky bastards who stumble upon a tasty flavour combination and ride it to victory.

Good bartenders know that the job is more than just dishing out drinks and starting a competition with dissertations on gin marketing is a great way to determine who the best competitors are going to be.

With the research part of the “exam” completed, the twelve finalists will get no rest once they arrive in France. Upon arrival in Cognac, each competitor will be taken to task with a number of practical tests including their ability to identify aromas, gin nosing and tasting, speed and accuracy tests and a written examination. The worst part is that the tests begin at 9:00AM, and for many bartenders that will be a challenge.

The final test will put all of the participants’ knowledge and skills to the test in a bar environment at the G’Vine Spring Ball in Paris. Clever decor, perfected recipes and timely execution of drink service are all factors in the final challenge, not to mention the peer pressure of having the best of the Paris drink industry critiquing the finalist’s efforts.

Overall this looks like one challenging week for the finalists. It’s one thing to make drinks, it’s another to be tested and judged throughout the process. But one talented bartender will emerge as the G’Vine Gin Connoisseur.

There will be lots more to come on this competition. I have been invited by G’Vine to follow along and post updates of the event from June 7th to June 10th. You can get detailed daily updates and photos here at Art of Drink and also more frequent and witty commentary via my Twitter account (@dsoneil) and Facebook. The G’Vine Spirit of the Grape blog will also detail the events, as well as Jay Hepburn via Oh Gosh.

G’Vine Connoisseur Program Day 1