The mixability of Italian amaro was demonstrated at the UK final of the annual Vero Bartender Competition run by leading brand Montenegro.
Cristiana Pirinu from the Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair in London won with a cocktail mixing the bitter-sweet dark liqueur with the rich flavours of sherry, cherry ratafia liqueur, hibiscus and blackcurrant.
She competed against nine other bartenders at the final at Punch Room at the London Edition hotel after they were selected from more than 130 entries across the UK at northern and southern heats.
Each cocktail was judged for its “individuality, shareability and how it demonstrates #humanspirit”.
This year’s Vero Bartender competition was inspired by two of the biggest trends of 2019, low ABV and sustainability. Bartenders were challenged to create the most inventive and unique take on a punch-style sharing cocktail, served in an innovative, imaginative way that promoted the theme of sharing.
To incorporate sustainability, all garnishes had to be edible and made from elements of the cocktail’s ingredients that would otherwise have been wasted.
The drink had to complement the complex and distinctive flavour profile of Amaro Montenegro, which has a blend of sweet and bitter notes from the essence of 40 different botanicals sourced from around the world.
A product of Bologna, Amaro Montenegro’s secret recipe remains unchanged since it was perfected in 1885 as does the boiling, maceration and distillation process used to make it.
Cristiana’s drink, called Seven Notes, was inspired by her Italian roots and those of Amaro Montenegro. Served in an antique cut-glass jug, the cocktail was presented with miniature Martini glasses designed by the Donovan Bar’s head bartender, and legendary “cocktail maestro”, Salvatore Calabrese.
Cristiana will go on to represent the UK at the global finals in Milan in Italy on 19 November. She will compete against bartenders representing Italy, Germany, the USA, the Netherlands, Australia, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Sweden and Albania.
The bartender with the most innovative sharing cocktail will win an exclusive trip to New York to attend Bar Convent Brooklyn in 2020.
UK brand ambassador Rudi Carraro said: “At Amaro Montenegro we champion innovation, and the Vero Bartender Competition is our way of pushing bartenders to experiment with flavour and gives us an opportunity to recognise and appreciate their creativity.”
Cristiana added: “I’m so excited to triumph in the UK heats of the Vero Bartender Competition and to go on and represent the UK at the global finals. As an Italian, I have always loved Amaro Montenegro as a brand and am excited for the chance to be the real Vero bartender.”
30ml Amaro Montenegro
10ml Homemade cherry ratafia
20ml Manzanilla sherry
30ml Blackcurrant and hibiscus tea
Essential oil of lemon
Method: Stirred with ice and strained.