Everything is ready at noon on 2 May 2022, when Hall 550 in Zurich-Oerlikon hosts Switzerland's largest cocktail competition for the second time. Many things have remained the same, such as the regulations that Barkeeper used to apply for the competition. In March, there was a lot of tinkering, trying out, adapting and perfecting until the more than 60 recipes were submitted to the BAR NEWS editorial team in time for the closing date for entries.
The general conditions: At least one ingredient each from a Swiss producer and an international brand that supported the SWISS COCKTAIL OPEN as partners. And this year these were again numerous. The products of over 70 brand partners were available to the bartenders.
In addition to the classic mixed spirits such as vodka, whisky, brandy, rum, gin and tequila/mezcal, there were also special liqueurs, Swiss fruit brandies, aperitifs, fillers and syrups. One homemade ingredient and one niche product could also be included per recipe.
After the closing date for entries, the recipes were anonymised and evaluated by a jury of experts. Particularly pleasing this year: the high number of applications from French-speaking Switzerland. The Barkeeper of the 24 best recipes were then invited to the grand final on 2 May.
As in the previous year, all 24 finalists were on the mat punctually at the agreed time. On the upper floor, the finalists once again had a spacious preparation room at their disposal, where juices could be squeezed, glasses polished and the often very elaborate decorations prepared.
Open to visitors: table fair and networking area
A new feature of this year's event was that, for the first time, visitors were able to attend the grand finale. This was not possible last year due to the Corona.
But one crisis follows the next. Events like the SWISS COCKTAIL OPEN can be held again, but are now taking place in the shadow of Russia's unnecessary war of aggression on Ukraine. To help alleviate the suffering in the crisis area, BAR NEWS has decided to double the proceeds from ticket sales and donate them in full to Swiss Solidarity.
They were rare, the moments when the Swiss bar scene was able to exchange ideas in person in recent years. The lively discussions in the newly created networking area showed that there was a need to catch up. The 16 exhibitors, all of whom were also partners of the 2nd SWISS COCKTAIL OPEN, took the opportunity to offer their specialities to the attendees for tasting.
Who mixes the best cocktail in Switzerland?
The stars of the day were undoubtedly the 24 finalists who presented their liquid-culinary works of art in front of a jury of experts. The drinks had to be prepared within seven minutes, with three Barkeeper competing at a time.
As it is impossible for one person to taste and evaluate 24 cocktails, the jurors were divided into two jury groups. Each jury group of three tasted 12 drinks in the first round. Jury group A consisted of Wolfgang Bogner (Tales Bar, Zurich), Sarah Madritsch (winner SWISS COCKTAIL OPEN 2021) and Raymond Maurer (communications expert).
Daniel Staub (responsible for On Board Consumption Beverages at Swiss Airlines), Judy Lauber (Karel Korner, Lucerne) and Thomas Blum (Agroscope) formed jury group B. Bruno Hunkeler, Barkeeper, as jury president, ensured that the time limit was adhered to and that the jury assessments were valid.
Appearance, taste and aroma were assessed in the first round. Since it can be assumed that the ratings vary slightly between the two jury groups, the best three Barkeeper qualified for the second round. Qualified for the final were:
- Valentin Aleksandrowicz (Njørden Restaurant, Aubonne)
- Maurice Angst (Kreissaal Bar, Bern)
- Fabian Baumgartner (George Bar & Grill, Zurich)
- Benjamin Hetze (Bar am Wasser, Zurich)
- Luca Margnini (Barrio, Fribourg)
- Zoltan Zuggo (Verve by sven, Bad Ragaz)
If a drink tastes so good that you want to have a second one, you usually want to know more than just the name of the cocktail. In the second round, all six finalists were therefore given one minute each to tell something about the recipe, the inspiration or the history of the cocktail. The jury in the second round consisted of a tasting jury and a storytelling jury.
Right to the top with the dragon ship
The tension rose when Michael Zotter opened the award ceremony. But before the ranking list was read out, juror Daniel Staub took the floor. He thanked all the bartenders for their great commitment. He was also pleased that not only Barkeeper from cities such as Zurich, Basel or Geneva came, but also finalists from towns such as Au, Aubonne or Kemptthal took part.
The freedom that the Barkeeper enjoyed in developing their recipes presented the jury of the SWISS COCKTAIL OPENS with a rather tricky task. Because the old fashioned twist has to be compared with the fizz, the bitter-tart aperitivo with the lovely rose drink and the three- and six-component cocktail.
In the end, Valentin Aleksandrowicz's creation "Le Voyage en Drakkar" was the most convincing. The Barkeeper from Njørden Restaurant, Aubonne, chose a base of 1653 Old Barrel Rum from Distillerie Studer, Falernum d'Absinthe and vanilla syrup from Monin for his drink, complemented with pineapple juice and fresh lime juice. The "Best Cocktail of Switzerland 2022" is served on crushed ice and a decoration of berries, a dehydrated orange and mint.
Le Voyage en Drakkar [1st place]
by Valentin Aleksandrowicz | Njørden Restaurant, Aubonne
|1653 Old Barrel Rum
|Le Falernum d'Absinthe
|Vanilla syrup (Monin)
|fresh lime juice
Decoration: Pink berries, caramelised orange with absinthe, dehydrated orange, mint
As the winner of the biggest cocktail competition of the year, Valentin Aleksandrowicz wins an exclusive private event at and with whisky legend Claudio Bernasconi. The founder of the largest whisky bar in the world, Devil's Place in the Waldhaus St. Moritz, and owner of an exclusive whisky collection, opens his doors to him and five companions for an exclusive look into his private collection with numerous rarities.
Valentin Aleksandrowicz will also receive a wildcard for the qualification in the category Barkeeper of the year at the SWISS BAR AWARDS 2023 and a double-page portrait in the trade magazine BAR NEWS.
Second place went to Barkeeper Maurice Angst , from the Kreissaal Bar, Bern and third place went to Benjamin Hetze from Bar am Wasser, Zurich. The second and third place winners each win a voucher for an overnight hotel stay and a Whisky & Dine for two at the Hotel Waldhaus in St. Moritz.
The cocktail has long since broken away from the fixed structures of the classic American or hotel bar, which in this country were mainly found in larger cities. It's quite possible that in 2022 you'll also come across excellent cocktails at a hipster pop-up by the lake or in a mountain restaurant. Or even at the Scandinavian-inspired haute cuisine temple Njørden in Aubonne.