Boucher, who tends bar at Candelaria in Paris – number 45 in Drinks International’s World’s 50 Best Bars 2012 poll - prevailed from a field of eight international competitors at Gin Mare’s cliff-top villa in Ibiza, Spain.
In victory, Boucher won a prize of €4,500 and will take on an ambassadorial role for the Gobal Premium Brands gin over the coming year.
In second place was Luca Vezzali from Café Bar Luca y Andrea in Milan, who won a prize of €2,000 while €1,000 was awarded to third-place Juan Jose Saber Durán, bartender at Feran Adria’s 41º in Barcelona.
The finalists, each national champions drawn from Gin Mare’s key markets, produced drinks under three categories: Mediterranean Gin & Tonic, Dirty Mare-tini and Mare Nostrum Cocktail - a drink inspired by Gin Mare’s brand values (lifestyle, gastronomy, climate and escape).
After each bartender had delivered three drinks, the competition culminated in an open-bar round that saw contestants make their signature Gin Mare G&T for a throng of drinks journalists and holidaymakers.
The judging panel - which comprised Jorge Balbontin, Gobal Premium Brands cocktail brand manager; freelance bartender Jim Wrigley; Jimmy Barrat of Zuma Dubai; Mario Kappes, bartender at Le Lion in Hamburg; and Simon Webster of BarlifeUK – marked on taste, balance, aroma, appearance, elegance, ‘brand inspiration’ and on bartenders’ presentation skills.
Judges said they were impressed with Boucher’s consistency and creativity, scoring her drinks highly throughout the day-long contest, and also praised her confident presentation skills.
Boucher made a G&T with black pepper oil and fresh bell pepper, a dirty martini made with amontillado sherry and salt solution and her own creation that combined Gin Mare with sorrel, lemon juice, Salers (a French aperitif), salt and simple syrup.
After the competition’s climax, Boucher told Drinks International that she was surprised to win, given her competitors’ level of cocktails.
She said: “Everyone’s drinks had great balance and fit into the idea of Mediterranean Inspiration. Anyone of the guys that competed could have been up there [as winner]; they all offered something different – something I had never seen before.
“That’s the reason I do these competitions – to enlarge and expand my bartending skills. The more you learn the better bartender you will be. This was certainly the most chilled out competition I’ve been involved in - I loved everything about it.”
Judge Simon Webster of UK title BarlifeUK agreed that the bartenders had taken to the brief well, introducing a strong Mediterranean flavour to their drinks.
“It’s been interesting to see how bartenders are using sherry as an alternative to vermouth,” he said. “Sherry seems to have really come to the fore. The use of salt has also been a trend we noticed.”
Webster praised winner Boucher, but also noted the contribution of third-place Duran and his Seaside Crusta creation, a combination of Gin Mare, orange curaçao, lemon juice, beer syrup, sea water and ouzo perfume. “It looked amazing - and tasted amazing,” he said.
The top three bartenders will all become ambassadors for the brand, working at Gin Mare’s promotional events around the world.
Also competing at the event was Alberto Jorge Soares Pires of Mojito Bar Catering in Portugal; Yves Schefter from Dante in Zurich, Switzerland; James Connolly from Rockpool Bar & Grill in Perth, Australia; and Alistair Reynolds from Hawksmoor in London, UK.