Are you a low-abv cocktail champ with a passion for palo cortado? Ready your kit – Gonzalez Byass has officially launched the 2019 Tío Pepe Challenge, so you can show off your sherry cocktail skills and win a trip to Jerez.
Now in its third year in the UK and its sixth year internationally, the Tío Pepe competition challenges bartenders to craft inventive cocktails using sherry – but it also features an educational component.
First, interested bartenders can sign up for sherry masterclasses, which will be held in London, Glasgow and Bristol in the coming weeks. The sessions will cover everything from using sherry in cocktails to learning the traditional venencia wine-pouring technique.
Next, bartenders submit their signature sherry cocktail online. Cocktails must use 50ml of Gonzalez Byass sherry and contain no more than five ingredients, plus a garnish. A panel of judges will select the national finalists from the pool of entries – and then things really heat up.
National finalists will gather at Hush Mayfair on 15 April to battle it out for a spot at the international final in Jerez. Each competitor will have to take a written exam to test their sherry knowledge, blind-taste four sherries, make their sherry cocktail for the judges and pour wine using a venencia (each national finalist will receive a venencia ahead of the national final in order to practice).
The winner of the UK final will be invited to join the competition's culmination in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, on 15 May. The international final will be comprised of more blind-tasting, venencia-pouring and cocktail-making.
Ex-American Bar head bartender Erik Lorincz will lead the panel of judges at the international final, ultimately selecting one bartender to take home the Gonzalez Byass trophy. Last year, it was Cameron Moncaster, formerly of Waeska at the Mandrake Hotel – and this year, it could be you.
Interested bartenders are asked to submit their recipes on the competition’s website by 15 March.