WITH AGRICOLE WIDELY TIPPED to be one of the new pack leaders for rum, it’s only fitting it should have a champion to ride it to the head of the field – and Switzerland’s Dirk Hany obliged when he won the first Clément Ti’ Punch Cup competition.
In an epic three-round final at Clément’s stunning Martinique home, Hany scooped the trophy after battling it out with 16 fellow finalists from Europe, the US and Hong Kong in front of a crowd of some 1,400 spectators.
The audience were out in force for the culmination of a competition that saw the finalists shake, rattle and roll their way through an adrenalin-fuelled day which started with a Ti’ Punch and ended with a knockout. Billed as a ‘swizzle off’, the final surprise speed round called on contestants to create two classic Ti’ Punches – one with white and one with aged agricole rum – for each of the four judges.
At the final reckoning it was ultimately a ‘Swissle off’, as the ’tender from Zurich’s Widder bar made like his more famous sporting countryman and served an ace round of eight Ti’ Punches in just 59 seconds. Second-placed Riccardo Marinelli, from Rome’s Jerry Thomas Speakeasy, made his round of the cane syrup, lime and agricole rum cocktail in 75 seconds, while third-placed Timothy Ching, from Hong Kong’s Bibo, was just behind on 95 seconds.
But while the speed round made for great entertainment, it was the accumulation of points from all three rounds that secured Hany his crown with Clément, named this year as one of the top Trending Brands in the World’s 50 Best Bars Annual Report.
Hany kept the crowd onside throughout with his irresistible insistence on audience participation, but beyond the energy and professionalism it was his imaginative take on Martinique’s favourite tipple and his skill with the second round ‘marketplace’ challenge – for which 10 finalists made the cut – that carried him to championship status.
A former Pernod Ricard brand ambassador, Hany returned to the stick two years ago and is pledged only to take part in one competition a year. He chose Clément’s Ti’ Punch Cup because of his belief in agricole as a style that can reinvigorate the rum category.
“There could be a real rum revolution in the next few years, with agricole playing a big part,” said Hany after the competition. “Agricole is similar to cachaça and a lot of people drink caipirinhas. This competition could be a huge event with hundreds of people coming to Martinique.”
Indeed, Clément’s events team was already stunned by the attention Ti’ Punch Cup drew – they had been expecting between 500 and 1,000 people to show up to the final, so the 1,400 tally proved a major bonus on a night that epitomised the essence of rum as a fun spirit.