Vanzi becomes Most Imaginative Bartender

16 May, 2013
Hamish Smith, David Wolowidnyk, Matteo Vanzi, Luca Picchi and Jacob Briars

Smith, Wolowidnyk, Vanzi, Picchi and Briars

Matteo Vanzi of Italy became Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender yesterday, triumphing on home soil against a field of ten other national finalists.

The 2013 global final was held at Il Salviatino, a 15th-century villa high in the hills over Florence, and was the culmination of four days of competition, brand and category education, and a wider qualification across 11 of Bombay Sapphire’s markets.

Vanzi, who works at Stravinskji Bar hotel de Russie in Rome, prevailed with his cocktail The Pastorini (The Perfect Lady). It was created using Bombay Sapphire, white balsamic vinegar, Martini Bianco, juniper berry meringue, a homemade shrub and St Germain infused with jasmine tea and pink grapefruit peel.

As Bombay Sapphire's Most Imaginative Bartender champion, Vanzi will work with Virgin Atlantic to create their new signature cocktail, which will feature on the airline’s Clubhouse2 menu.

He will be invited to judge next year’s competition and enter Bombay Sapphire’s Cocktail Hall of Fame, thus attending events such as the opening of the brand's distillery at Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire, England, later this year.

Yesterday’s final round was compared by Bombay Sapphire’s global brand ambassador Raj Nagra, and scrutinised by a quartet of judges: last year’s victor David Wolowidnyk from Canada; Florentine Negroni expert Luca Picchi; Jacob Briars, global advocacy and training at Bacardi; and Hamish Smith, deputy editor of Drinks International.

Bartenders were asked to create an imaginative cocktail that drew on their time in Tuscany, with particular reference to Bombay Sapphire’s botanical mix, the Juniper of which is sourced from the region.

Judges marked on performance, presentation, brand knowledge and application, creativity, aroma and taste (the latter criteria were allocated a greater share of points).

Points awarded for performance over the previous three days were also factored into bartenders' final scores, while points were deducted for overrunning the seven-minute time limit of the final round.

Judges were impressed with Vanzi’s picnic-themed presentation, imaginative use of local ingredients and the overall balance of flavours in his drink. 

On taking the top prize, the Rome-based bartender said his triumph had been “unexpected” and applauded his fellow competitors on their standard of bartending.

He said: “I had many experiences throughout the trip that sparked by imagination, however it was the passion and love shown by the Pastorini family who harvest the juniper berries, one of the Bombay Sapphire botanicals, that gave me the inspiration for my cocktail and the theme of love. Tuscany is a very romantic region that combines the passion of Italian people like the Pastorini’s, with history and style; the essence of these things helped me to create my winning cocktail.”

In a close second place was South African Assaf Yechiel of Orphanage cocktail bar in Cape Town. Judges felt he performed admirably throughout the process but his final-round effort, a twist on a Negroni, lacked the imagination exhibited by some of his competitors.

Completing the medal positions was the aptly named Joe Wild of Berry & Rye in Liverpool, the UK. Judges enjoyed Wild’s animation and imagination and scored his truffle-infused creation highly.

The 11-bartender field comprised: Austria’s Markus Altrichter of Hammond Bar, Vienna; Canada’s Franz Swinton of Cube Tasting Lounge in Calgary; Demark’s Niklas Frank of The Union in Copenhagen; Germany’s Mathias Noori of Roomers Bar in Frankfurt; Italy’s Matteo Vanzi of Stravinskji Bar hotel de Russie in Rome; Japan’s Mai Seike of Cellar Bar in Rihga Royal Hotel in Tokyo; South Africa’s Assaf Yechiel of Orphanage cocktail bar in Cape Town; Spain’s Joao Eusebio (though Portuguese) of Magatzem Escola Borne in Barcelona; Switzerland’s Nico Colic of Hotel Rivington & Sons in Zurich;  the UK’s  Joe Wild of Berry & Rye in Liverpool; and the US’s Rustyn Vaughan-Lee of The Sporting League in Las Vegas.

The Pastorini (Perfect Lady) – Matteo Vanzi’s Winning Cocktail Recipe 

Overall recipe ingredients

  • 50ml Bombay Sapphire gin
  • 10ml St Germain infused jasmine green tea and pink grapefruit peel
  • 15ml Martini Bianco
  • 20ml White balsamic vinegar with verbena and chamomile
  • Homemade shrub
  • 1tsp Juniper berry meringue

Overall method

  • Combine all ingreidents in a cocktail shaker
  • Shake, fine strain and serve in metal picnic mugs

Homemade shrub

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup white balsamic vineger

Method for homemade shrub

  • Heat vineger and allow sugar to dissolve and then filter


  • 375ml St Germain
  • 3 tbs Jasmine green tea
  • Peel of one pink grapefruit

To make the infusion

  • In a Vienna coffee machine lightly infuse the green tea and pink grapefruit peel with the St Germain

Juniper berry meringue 

  • 125g Egg white
  • 125g Caster sugar
  • 5 Whole fine gounded juniper berries

Method for meringue

  • Whisk to mergine

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.


La'Mel Clarke

Service isn’t servitude: the skill of hosting

La’Mel Clarke, front of house at London’s Seed Library, looks at the forgotten art of hosting and why it deserves the same respect as bartending.