HAMILTON, Bermuda, Feb. 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Miami's Valentino Longo was crowned North America's "Most Imaginative Bartender" in the 13th Annual Competition by BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® gin, in partnership with the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. For the first time in the competition's history, Bombay Sapphire has contributed a $25,000 Creative Grant prize and mentorship for the winner to put towards their creative proposal. This supports Bombay Sapphire's belief in the innate creativity of bartenders and aims to empower bartenders to embrace their own self-expression behind and beyond the bar. This expanded Most Imaginative Bartender competition feeds into Bombay Sapphire's 'Stir Creativity' platform, based on the belief that creativity exists within everyone.
Following a week-long finale of three challenges, Longo was recognized among 11 other finalists across the region from San Francisco, Portland, Denver, Austin, Miami, Ontario, Columbus, Atlanta, NYC and New Orleans for his innovative "The Decisive Moment" cocktail recipe and project idea Shoshin. His creative idea is a private members club for industry people where artistry meets mixologist. Longo joins an illustrious roster of former program winners raising the industry's artistic standards.
"As the popularity of gin continues to rise, we're thrilled to keep propelling that growth through initiatives like our Most Imaginative Bartender competition, which has always sought to bring out the infinite possibilities that Bombay can bring to cocktail-making. This competition is designed to be a canvas for the brightest talent in the country, and now, as well as the famed cocktail challenges, we're pushing the boundaries of creativity even further – beyond the glass, even beyond the bar – through introducing our new Creative Grant challenge," said Tom Spaven, North America Brand Director for BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin.
The finals were held in Chicago, the hometown of last year's MIB winner, Carley Gaskin. The judging panel included Carley Gaskin, Artist Hebru Brantley, entrepreneur Ryan Wilson, and top mixologist Lynnette Marrero, who witnessed each finalist's boundary-pushing craft in three challenges:
STAGE 1: Botanical Challenge: Finalists were assigned one of the 10 vapour-infused natural botanicals that make up BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin. Finalists were tasked with creating an avant-garde recipe that celebrated the botanical's country of origin and its unique flavor.
STAGE 2: Canvas Challenge: The second challenge had each of the 12 finalists present a business idea to the judges that reflects their creative passion and how they would use the $25,000 creative grant to bring this to life, be it opening their own bar, designing a sneaker collection, artworks or other ventures.
STAGE 3: Final Cocktail Challenge: All finalists were tasked with crafting a new, original cocktail to submit to the judging panel for the finale, incorporating BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin. Finalists had seven minutes to create and present two serves of their original recipe on-stage for judges.
The 12 finalists were selected over the last year from over 30 North American cities for having the most innovative cocktail creations.
"For 13 years, MIB has set the bar for creativity and innovation in the cocktail industry. The level of ingenuity Longo displayed proves what I have been saying all along; that bartenders are some of the most diversely creative people. The way he showed that by combining his creative outlet outside of bartending with his creative process behind the bar was nothing short of stunning. In making 'The Decisive Moment' he has set an even higher standard for the competition moving forward," said Bombay Sapphire National Brand Ambassador Ryan Wainwright.
Prior to Chicago, the twelve finalists (eleven from the U.S. and one from Canada) visited BOMBAY SAPPHIRE's Laverstoke Distillery in Hampshire, England for a gin immersion and to be briefed on this year's new Creative Grant component.
"What inspired me to create the concept of Shoshin is the idea that bartending is much more than just making a cocktail, it's a state of mind and a philosophy of living. We need a physical place where people can understand that bartending can be one of the best industries in the world," said Longo.
Valentino Longo – The Decisive Moment
1.50 Oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
0.75 Oz Fortified Bergamot
1.25 Oz Sherry Lactic Blend
Garnish: 2 Drops coconut olive oil, 2 drops of coffee balsamic
Director, Brand PR
ABOUT BOMBAY SAPPHIRE
BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® is the world's number one premium gin by volume and value. BOMBAY SAPPHIRE is created with a unique combination of ten sustainably sourced botanicals from around the globe. The brand's signature distillation process known as vapour infusion is showcased at the BREEAM award-winning Laverstoke Mill Distillery in Hampshire, England. The vapour infusion process skillfully captures the natural flavors of the botanicals which results in the gin's fresh, bright taste. Awarded a double gold medal in the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE is consistently recognized for crafting the finest quality gin. For more information, please explore www.bombaysapphire.com.
The BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® brand is part of the portfolio of Bacardi Limited, headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda. Bacardi Limited refers to the Bacardi group of companies, including Bacardi International Limited.
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