The first Glenfarclas cocktail competition threw up a left-field winner this week, with Kevin Carr, three-year stalwart of the Urban Brasserie in Glasgow, taking top spot with his Green Grass Fizz.
A reference to the Glenfarclas name (which means 'valley of the green grass') Carr’s pale green creation used agave syrup, lemon juice… and five muddled sugar-snap pea pods.
His creation was certainly very different from the drinks of the other five finalists, who tended to mix the compulsory Glenfarclas 105 with safer partners, such as sherry, cassis and Benedictine. Coconut water featured often.
‘People have an association with what things can go with spirits,’ Carr told Imbibe. ‘My drink was slightly controversial and a little bit weird, but it does work. And weird is good – it encourages people to ask questions.’
Honing in on the ‘green’ element, Carr initially experimented with seaweed before settling on his sugar snaps. ‘Those savoury vegetal elements can highlight the sweeter toffee notes of the 105,’ he said.
‘It had balance and taste, and it was very visual,’ explained Louise Gallagher, Glenfarclas’ sales manager for Scotland and northern England, one of the lead judges. ‘He hit the brief, and it was innovative, yet easily replicable in the majority of bars.’
As part of his prize, Carr will spend three days working at the distillery under distillery manager Callum Fraser. He will also get the chance to make his Green Grass fizz for thirsty race-goers at the Cheltenham Gold Cup meet in March.
Though open to all UK bartenders, the three regional heats for the competition all took place in Scotland, in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. But the team at Glenfarclas are already hoping to make it a fully national competition in 2020 with heats all over the country.
One thing, however, won’t change: the use of the cask-strength main ingredient.
‘It’ll always be with Glenfarclas 105,’ said Louise Gallagher.
So you can start practising early. With or without peas…