It seems that there's an emergent trend in cocktail competitions. Once upon a time, you'd present your drink, say your thanks, take a seat and cross your fingers. More recently, a lot of competitions are including a second round. The recent regionals for the Cocktail World Cup included an "honest drink" round - basically a less hardcore version of a mystery bag - where competitors had to fashion a drink on short notice from products on the backbar, while the final for CLASS' bartender of the year will ask the ten qualifiers to produce unspecified classics on the fly. At the El Dorado Swizzle competition, each participant was asked to create a second drink using El Dorado's 12 or 15 year old expressions.
It's conceivable that this didn't come as much of a surprise to those who had confirmed their participation some time ahead of the day of the competition. But if neccessity is - as they say - the mother of invention, then blind panic is its father and more than that, it's a tactic that usually serves me pretty well. It's the kind of tactic that lets me play about some Fernet Branca.
To develop the point I've previously made about Christopher Columbus' contribution to the evolution of rum, I matched the El Dorado 12 year old with a touch of Fernet Branca (Columbus was Italian by birth; tenuous, I know, but kinda charming I thought) and a splash of Tempranillo (it was, after all, the Spanish who commissioned him to seek a westerly route to the Indies). On top of that, I added a dash of Fee Brothers Orange Bitters to bring a slight citrus lift to everything, said my thanks, took a seat and crossed my fingers.
50ml El Dorado 12 year old
15ml Fernet Branca
1 dash Fee Brothers Orange Bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks or Old-Fashioned glass. Garnish with a flamed orange zest.
Thanks again to everyone at InSpirit Brands and El Dorado who allowed me to compete at such short notice, and to all at Bramble for hosting.