National Breakfast Awards interview

National Breakfast Awards interview

With Christopher Clemson from Zest Café and Bar, who entered our cocktail competition.

The Bloody Mary Challenge ran alongside the 2019 National Breakfast Awards, and was held in association with TABASCO® and Ketel One vodka. It saw bartenders and mixologists going glass-to-glass to win an incredible trip to Avery Island in Louisiana, USA, the home of TABASCO®. The 13 talented finalists included representatives Clemson, plus representatives from the likes of Butcombe Brewery, Claridge’s and Wright Brothers.

Why did you enter the awards?
I flatly love the bloody mary! It’s a pretty unique cocktail, in that the introduction of traditional food elements opens the door to a lot of creativity.

What is the secret of a good bloody mary?
You have to use a great quality tomato juice. It’s going to make up a lot of the volume of your drink and you need a solid base.

How did you decide on what drinks to prepare for the event?
For my Signature Bloody mary has a smoking body creation, I wanted to play with the tomato element and add a spicy, smoky, sweet element. Smoking cherry tomatoes over horse radish seemed a natural fit as we use a lot of non-traditional smoking methods in our kitchen. For the Technical round I wanted to create something sweet and sour to refresh the pallet after.

How do you stay calm under pressure when competing?
I don’t… I panic! I flap and squirm until eventually there is a cocktail in front of me.

Did you enjoy the competition?
The event was great fun, I got to meet some incredible bartenders and I learned a lot. The organisers were really friendly and the whole competition was well organised.

Would you recommend that other people enter the awards?
No… because I don’t want more competition when I enter again next year.