Friday, November 28, 2014

Tippled and Buzzed at the La Maison Cointreau Cocktail Competition Philippine Edition

A flurry of cocktails made with Cointreau, the world's leading liqueur, prepared by some of the leading mixologists, in one of the best French restaurants in the metro. An evening of limitless possibilities, new flavors and experiences. And a perfect evening to be just a bit tippled and buzzed...

Cointreau, the iconic French orange spirit brand, presented the first ever Philippine Edition of its cocktail competition, La Maison Cointreau, last November 26, 2014, at Le Jardin Manila. More than a liqueur, Cointreau's orange fragrance reveals the heart and soul of a refreshing cocktail, authentic, elegant, and always avant-garde. And that evening, I got to sample some of the most imaginative cocktails made with the iconic liqueur and prepared by some of the best mixologists...

Le Jardin Manila is probably one of the best kept secrets in the metro. Inspired by the internationally acclaimed Trois Gourmand restaurant of Chef Gils Brault in Ho Chi Minh City, Le Jardin Manila prides itself in using the best ingredients executed with love and care for that memorable French dining experience.

Le Jardin Manila's philosophy dictates that almost everything in the menu is made in-house, including freshly baked breads, savory charcuterie like sausages and other smoked items and cheese. And there's no better place than Le Jardin Manila for the first ever Philippine Edition of La Maison Cointreau's Cocktail Competition. Since it was first bottled and sold more than 165 years ago, Cointreau continues to be an essential component of popular cocktails, including Margaritas, Cosmopolitans, and the Sidecar. With its signature amber bottle, Cointreau presents the perfect balance between sweet and bitter oranges, and that uniquely Parisian art de vivre adding both character and soul in any cocktail. The competition brings together Manila's most visionary mixologists to create, wow, and inspire with Cointreau.

Inspired by Cointreau Prive in Paris, La Maison Cointreau was first launched internationally in New York, with the aim to introduce Cointreau as the avant-garde and uniquely Parisian style spirit that enables mixologists to be "Cointreauversial" and explore limitless cocktail variations using Cointreau, the heart of any good cocktail.

And the evening just overflowed with the creativity and imagination of the metro's best mixologists with their unique blends and cocktail concoctions, each made even more special with Cointreau.

The mixologists were tasked with two specific challenges: The Respect Challenge, which required the creation of a unique and iconic cocktail that captured the elegance of Cointreau's rich heritage; and the Create Challenge, where mixologists were dared to push the envelope and explore the "Cointreauversial" by crafting a new and exciting cocktail concoction that reflects Cointreau's avante-garde spirit.

And the mixologists whipped up a batch of their special cocktails for the guests to sample. The variety of flavors reflected the diverse influences as well as the versatility of Cointreau in the different cocktail blends created that evening. Shot after shot, I get in the groove in no time...

Cocktails with a little heat from white pepper, a nutty sweetness with chocolate, or paired with balut, the entries for La Maison Cointreau presented unique and distinct flavors. Tessa Prieto-Valdez (L) hosted the evening's festivities, as Xavier Desaulles (R), Remy Cointreau International Managing Director, welcomed the guests.

The metro's best mixologists then go into action, displaying skill and wizardry in preparing their Cointreau-based signature cocktails to be rated by a distinguished panel of judges headed by Remy Cointreau International Marketing Director Elisabeth Tona, Beverage Consultant Lee Watson, and Circuit Magazine Editor-in-Chief JR Isaac.   

Here are some of the unique cocktails created by the metro's best mixologists for the La Maison Cointreau Cocktail Competition that evening at Le Jardin Manila...The Curator Coffee & Cocktails' Aldrin Ivan P. Ancheta and his Pedicab and Cointreauose, a pair of refreshingly sweet and classic blends presented in an unusual manner, with syringes and dextrose bags to set the tone for the evening. Sweet, tart and fruity, followed by sharp and clean flavors with the distinct notes of Cointreau, both cocktails kick off the competition. 
Then, The Speakeasy Tapas Bar & Restaurant-Cafe's Lovi A. Ting-le takes the stage with his Kami-Sabe and Marichacolate, another unique pair with tart yet smooth citrus notes and another with a quirky chocolate blend. The second round of cocktails clearly illustrate the different cocktail possibilities with Cointreau, and you can go classic and traditional, or veer the usual course with some unusual yet refreshing concoctions. Chocolate with Cointreau? Works for me. 
Vask Modern Tapas & Gastronomic Cuisine's Mark Anthony D. Marquez and his crisp and smooth Vask, prepared in that signature molecular gastronomy style Vask is known for with mist and smoke. Big on creativity and flair, equally big on flavor, with bold and crisp notes and a subtle layer of Cointreau's sweet and bitter orange flavors. The citrus notes add a refreshing touch to the cocktail, and a second round is in order.  
Marco Polo VU's Skybar & Lounge's Ryan O. Rodriguez and his Metro Mango Cosmo and sweet Chocointreau, another interesting pair with with sweet mango and another with chocolate lined with candy. The contrasting colors indicate the equally contrasting flavor profiles. The sweet mango adds a tropical vibe to the cocktail, while the chocolate adds an indulgent and creamy flavor. 
Raffles Hotel's Long Bar's mixologist, and good buddy, Christian "Rian" Earl David S. Assidao and his classic take on the margarita, the Edouard's Margarita, an homage to Edouard-Jean Cointreau. Smooth and easy with crisp and clean flavors and fruity notes, and the subtle orange hint from Cointreau lingers long after the first sip. Rian's second cocktail, the playful and inventive Hatch from 1875, in reference to the year the first bottles of Cointreau were sold commercially, has noticeably and intentionally sharper flavors for contrast when paired with the local balut. Different, unique, a winning pair. 
Prive Luxury Club's Jerry P. Miranda and his naughty Erotique, classy and sophisticated elegance in a glass with just a hint of mischief. Smooth, refined and well-mannered, with perfectly balanced flavors in every sip. The bold fruity notes play well with the orange hint of Cointreau, and you're hooked at the first sip. 
Black Sheep's Christopher R. Bayon and his elegant White Lady, refreshingly crisp with a subtle punch. The deceptively simple and pale white hue of the cocktail leads you to think that the flavors are subtle, but one sip tells you this lady isn't shy at all with flavor. And the White Lady indulges you for yet another sip, and another. And before you know it, she's got you. Nice. 
Makati Shangri-La's Reymond G. De Jesus presented his duo of Manille Sunset and Fashionedtreau, contrasting cocktails with unique flavor profiles. The Manille Sunset delivers a tart yet refreshing punch, while the Fashionedtreau has the deep notes of bourbon with a subtle layer of orange notes, almost like the classic Old-Fashioned. I've always enjoyed good Old-Fashioned, and this little shot blended with Cointreau just reminded me yet again why I love it. Good stuff coming from Makati Shangri-La's Sage Bar. 
Le Jardin Manila's very own Albert S. Ladia and his intriguing pair of MARGARITArevisite and Cocktail a la Tomate. The MARGARITArevisite, garnished with a fresh strawberry and lined with pop rocks adds a quirky and fun element to the classic margarita, blending strawberry and orange notes. Each sip results in a pop, adding to the unique experience. The tomato-based Cocktail a la Tomate has rounder, comforting flavors. Refreshingly new and different, and another example of the limitless cocktail variations with Cointreau. 
The list of impressive entries are rounded out by Finders Keepers' Christopher Jorge B. Olayvar and his Rosemerita, a twist to the classic margarita, and Jamestreau, completing the list of entries. And it's an impressive field, with a diverse range and variety of unique cocktails. And after sampling each of the entries, you can't help but feel just a bit creatively "Cointreauversial", as you go for another round just to make sure you get all the tasting notes right. A few more rounds, and the festive vibe at La Maison Cointreau's first ever Philippine Edition kicks up a notch. 
La Maison Cointreau's distinguished panel of judges, who have the unenviable task of deciding the winner from an impressive field of visionary mixologists, review and deliberate the evening's grand prize winner. After a few more rounds of deliberations, and a few more cocktails, we have a winner... 

...and it's great to see a good buddy from Raffles Hotel's Long Bar take the top prize and represent the country in Bangkok. Congratulations to Christian "Rian" Earl David S. Asiddao of Long Bar for bagging the grand prize at La Maison Cointreau's first ever Philippine Edition, as he shares the moment with his parents, grandmother, girlfriend, and the evening's host, Tessa Prieto-Valdez. The Grand Winner of the La Maison Cointreau cocktail competition takes home prizes worth P 80,000, including a trip to Bangkok to represent the Philippines and compete in the regional finals. La Maison Cointreau's first Philippine Edition was co-presented by Le Jardin Manila, home of authentic French cuisine by celebrated Chef Gils Brault, and Thai Airways, the designated national carrier of the Kingdom of Thailand and a multi-awarded member of the Star Allinace, the world's largest airline alliance.

Le Jardin Manila is located at the Penthouse, W 5th Building, 5th Avenue corner 32nd Street, Bonifaco Global City, Taguig, or call 0917-817-6584 for reservations.

For more information, inquiries on Remy Cointreau, you can contact Future Trade International at 556-8724.

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