Summer Chen wins Med Inspirations 2018

18 September, 2018

Summer Chen of Singapore bar Summerlong has been crowned champion of the 2018 Gin Mare Mediterranean Inspirations global final in Ibiza.

Chen’s cocktail, Amigos Para Siempre, or ‘Friends Forever’, is a combination between a Bloody Mary and a Gibson Martini which she prepared in front of a panel of judges at Villa Mare on the Spanish island of Ibiza.

Chen, originally from Taiwan, said: ‘My cocktail surprised the judges because nobody expects to see a clear Bloody Mary. The tomatoes are clarified which lets the Gin Mare shine through.

“It’s been a crazy week for all the bartenders and this will be a big moment for me in my career.”

Matthew Cusworth of Edinburgh bar Hoot The Redeemer came second while Gagan Gurung from Hong Kong’s Fang Fang completed the podium.

There was a total of seven finalists who were given the challenge of creating a cocktail and food pairing which incorporated Mediterranean ingredient Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, working alongside Peter Coucquyt, co-founder of culinary consultancy company Foodpairing.

The judging panel consisted of Jorge Balbontin, brand activation manager for Gin Mare, Diego Olmedilla, president at Facyre Spain, Julian de Féral, creative director of drink strategy at Gorgeous Group London, Marc Alvarez, bar manager at El Barri group and Cherry Wan, operations manager from Jia Group International.

Marc Alvarez said: “I think the competition has run smoothly and everyone has been able to enjoy themselves. I was impressed by the composure shown by the bartenders, it’s unusual to have to pair with food so it demonstrates their diversity and want to do more.” 

The competition took place over three days and on day two the bartenders and guests were invited to a series of lectures and workshops focused around the role of sugar in cocktails, hosted by members of the judging panel. 

Julian de Féral presented a talk on challenging what has already been done with sugar usage in drinks and whether bartenders should believe what they are told is the way forward. He examined the role of classic cocktails and questioned why they haven’t changed over time and whether bars are actually achieving sustainability.

Alvarez (pictured) was too on hand to offer his knowledge of creating balanced drinks with the use of sugar. He led an interactive workshop on how complex drinks can be balanced and how to accomplish it. Alvarez also explained his concept of tapas-style cocktails, which will be the theme in his new bar in Barcelona.

Further demonstrations were presented to the bartenders by sugar and Parmigiano Reggiano experts to offer a deep understanding of how these ingredients are created, consumed and can be used within the bar industry all around the world.

Following the competition finale the seven bartenders and remaining judges travelled to Barcelona for a night before visiting Gin Mare’s distillery.

The seven participating bartenders were Chen, Cusworth, Gurung, Stefani Brach, Pasha Morshedi, Stefano Dandolo and Carlotta Rubia.

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