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In March this year we began our international search to find some of the world’s most talented mixologists, and we’re delighted to announce that a bartender from the U.K and a bartender from the U.S have been crowned the winners of the 10-year-switch.
Elysa McGuire, from Leeds, a talented bartender from inner-city establishment, Below Stairs, was named as the official U.K winner in New York City. Her winning creation, Along the River Spey, was inspired by the unique blend of botanicals in our gin and bridges the gap between a martini and whisky classic to create a show stopping gin cocktail hailed by the judges as “bold, innovative and well-balanced”. Elysa said she was “incredibly humbled and excited” about the win which will see her head to America to work in one of the coolest bars in the States and experience American culture at its finest. Her cocktail, will also be named as Caorunn’s signature serve in bars across the U.K.
“I’m incredibly excited about being named the UK winner! It’s been quite a journey to NYC with a lot of preparation and practice of both my presentation and cocktail. With such an all-star panel of judges I really wanted to showcase my skills as a bartender, and I am so happy that all the hard work paid off. I can’t wait for the ‘switch’ to take place - having the chance to bartend halfway across the world is pretty exciting and I’m looking forward to not only meeting the team but also learning about how they do things in another country.”
Taking the winning spot at the 10-year-switch final was Chris ‘Scooby’ Olivier, an inventive bartender from The Tasting Room, located in Tampa, Florida. To create his winning cocktail, Caorunn Calling, he fused together ingredients inspired by the Scottish landscape such as lavender, orange and dandelion to create a drink based on the traditional build of the Old Fashioned.
On securing the winning U.S Spot, Chris said:
“It still feels surreal! The experience alone was amazing but to walk away with the win alongside such a talented group of people and in such a storied bar is an incredible feeling. What I look forward to most is seeing and experiencing the bar culture in the U.K. During the competition you could see our counterparts had a different approach to their cocktail designs and presentations and so I’m really excited to explore more of this.”
Ryan Chetiyawardana (also known as ‘Mr Lyan’), Founder of Dandelyan and Cub, and one of the world’s most influential bartenders was the head judge of the international final on 31 July, alongside acclaimed author Dave Wondrich and Caorunn Gin Master, Simon Buley. On the final, Ryan noted:
“The creativity of the cocktails that were presented, paired with the pure passion that was exuded from our U.K and U.S finalists made for a truly exciting final of the 10-year-switch here in NYC. While it was tough to pick just two winners, both Elysa and Chris curated distinctive cocktails that were well-balanced, delicious and ultimately highlighted Caorunn Gin in a way that perfectly maintained the integrity of the spirit. I’m very excited to see what both of these bartenders go on to do in the future!”
Our Gin Master Simon joined us in our search:
"The 10-year-switch has helped us to uncover and profile some of the phenomenal talent that is currently thriving within the bartending industry across both the U.K and the U.S. As a proud Scottish brand that’s celebrating its 10-year-anniversary this year, it’s been a special opportunity for us to support and promote the cocktail creativity of so many bartenders and local bars throughout this competition. While there were so many stand out cocktails at the final our deserved congratulations go to Elysa and Chris!”
Caorunn Calling by Chris Olivier
The cocktail is based off of an old fashioned build. Bitters, extract and lavender syrup are muddled with orange and grapefruit zest. Next, Caorunn is added, then ice, and all stirred.
Served in a double rocks glass with large format ice, a twist of grapefruit and orange wrapped around a dandelion leaf
Along the River Spey by Elysa Mcguire
To create the Apple & Wild Flower Rose Vermouth
To create the Speyside Mist
To create the Apple “Cherry”
Served in a stemless wineglass with a garnish of candied wild flowers
Stir ingredients with ice and strain into Nick and Nora. Garnish with Speyside Mist and apple "cherry"