There's probably more than one wild mind in the drinks trade that dreamt of it: the football world cup of Negronis. Well, it's a reality, and the winner of its first edition is Elliot Chapman, from Liverpool's Blind Tiger.
The North West Negroni Knockout, organised by wine and spirit merchant Hammonds of Knutsford, saw 10 bartenders battle it out, bitter-style.
Each drink had to contain a white spirit, an amaro (Campari was allowed in this category for the competition), and a fortified wine. One of those could be infused, and a fourth minor ingredient was allowed but not compulsory.
Competitors were split into two groups, with the two highest point-scorers of each group progressing to the semi-finals, then to either the final or the third-place final. Joe White from Gorilla, Peter Stocker from Common and Alex Montrose from Cloud 23, all Mancunian venues, also made it to the final round. Ultimately Chapman most impressed judges Massimo Zitti of Cane & Grain, Living Ventures' David Ray, and drinks consultant Jamie Jones. He's won a week's trip to Florence, home of the Negroni.
'Before I even made the drink, I started researching the Negroni and found out about Fosco Scarselli [the bartender who allegedly made the first Negroni for the Count Negroni, ed],' Chapman told Imbibe. 'What he was known for in the bar trade was being one of the main bar psychologists.'
Scarselli was quoted saying the bartender's job is 'not any job', and asks flexibility in the face of 'dark moods or reversals of fortune' – this last word inspiring Chapman to use tea bitters, umeshu and a fortune cookie in an Asian Negroni twist.
'I broke the Negroni rules and used equal parts gin and Campari, but more umeshu – I made this drink quite selfishly. This is exactly how I wanted it to taste.'
He added: 'I knew the palate of my drink so when I got to the last four, I knew it was either going to be loved or hated. As soon as I didn't hear my name as fourth, I thought they must've really liked it.
This was Chapman's first competition, which he entered 'just because I would've kicked myself if I didn't'.
Reversal of Fortune
Elliot Chapman, Blind Tiger
Garnish: Dried orange slice, charred orange peel and fortune cookie with a Scarselli quote inside
Method: Stir down on ice and single strain into chilled glass.
25ml Beefeater 24 Gin
40ml Akashi-Tai Shiraume Umeshu
A dash of homemade plum and green tea bitters
Images: Pete Sheppard. Top, L-R: Ray, Jones, Zitti, Chapman.