The 2014 global final was held at Dartmouth House, in Mayfair, London, and was the culmination of a six-day emersion in English culture and the tradition of gin. Bartenders were asked to create an imaginative cocktail that drew on their experiences during the trip.
Savage, from Paris, France, created Paper Anniversary – a cocktail inspired by Bombay Sapphire’s new distillery, Laverstoke Mill, which was once a paper mill.
The French bartender, whose drink was made using Bombay Sapphire, a salt solution and a home-made paper syrup, told DI: “I tried to make a drink like the smell of pages in a book. This is what we are doing at Little Red Door – making drinks based on sound or even a smell. It wasn’t a molecular style drink; the syrup was just a pan and a few spices.
“I definitely did not think I would win. You appreciate your own work a lot less than other peoples’. But then, my drink was the only one that was not excessively red!”
Yesterday’s final saw Richard Wood of Duck & Waffle in London finishing second, while bartenders, Alexander Frezza of Archivio Storico in Napoli, Ayumi Tokunaga of Bar Seven Seas in Fukuoka (Japan) and Julio Cabrera of The Regent Cocktail Club in Miami completed the top five.
The final round followed Wednesday’s semi final, which saw 14 bartenders compete and whittled to five, and national heats across four continents that saw the participation of 3,500 bartenders.
The event was hosted by Bombay Sapphire’s global brand ambassador Raj Nagra and cocktails were judged by Jacob Briars, head of global advocacy and training at Bacardi; Ryan Chetiyawardana, founder of White Lyan; Alex Kratena, head bartender at Artesian Bar, The Langham; and Hamish Smith, deputy editor of Drinks International and editor of The World’s 50 Best Bars.
Kratena said of the competition: “It was amazing. For a very long time I have not judged such a great standard of competitors – it was so tough to choose the winner. The most beautiful thing about the competition is that it does not have many rules. It’s just the bartender’s imagination. Remy managed to translate his week’s experience into just three ingredients.”
As Bombay Sapphire's Most Imaginative Bartender champion, Savage will receive a prize fund of up to £10,000, which includes a sapphire stone pin - the jewel after which Bombay Sapphire is named.
He will also be partnered with Virgin Atlantic to create a new signature cocktail for the airline’s Clubhouse menus globally on the route from Heathrow to JFK and will take his place in the Cocktail Hall of Fame in the Bombay Sapphire Distillery at Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire.