Create a competitive cocktail

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Stephen’s Signature Shot”

Mixology might just be the most delicious art form there is. Although you don’t need to be a pro to come up with something special, it certainly helps to have one at hand to provide a couple of pointers.

Stephen Fanning is just the man to give those pointers. As the local winner of recent Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum Cayman Bartender Challenge, Stephen will represent Cayman at the Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum International Bartender Showcase in Jamaica this month, where he will compete against some of the best bartenders from around the globe. The event will take place at the Hope Botanical Gardens on 22 October, with Stephen taking on bartenders from Jamaica, Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Spain, the UK and the US.

Each bartender will man a station where they have to use Jamaican fruits and specialities to create a unique Appleton cocktail.

This suits Stephen just fine, as he believes using local flavours is vital to creating the perfect cocktail.

“A successful cocktail is one that is personalised for the patron and suits the setting. Nothing beats a spiked hot chocolate on a cold winter day, or a Pina Colada or even a simple cold beer while sitting on a hot beach,” he says.

The starting point for a cocktail should always be the liquor, which should then be combined with complimentary flavours.

“Without being too pretentious I then give the cocktail a unique twist, keeping in mind to keep it simple and drinkable,” says Stephen.

Of course, although the taste is the most important element, it is also important to pay some attention to the appearance of the cocktail.

“If a cocktail looks appealing it taste better. Like a Chef’s winning dish, a quality cocktail consists of taste, smell, texture and appearance. A proper balance of these key factors is always a formula for success,” says Stephen.

His number one tip for amateur mixologists is to start out with ingredients and flavours you truly enjoy.

“Try not to get too ahead of yourself and start by learning the classics – there’s a reason why they are classic. Then take the next step and put your own twist on it,” he says.

As for rules, well, according to Stephen there are no rules to mixology.

“Aim to create something that has drinkability and something that can be enjoyed over and over again. Think of making cocktails first for your own enjoyment and in turn it can be nothing but rewarding.”   WH