Daniyel Jones is the winner of the 2012 Angostura Aromatic Bitters Mixmaster Challenge. Jones not only walked away with the coveted title but a cash prize of $10,000 and a chance to represent Trinidad and Tobago in the 2013 Angostura Global Cocktail challenge.
Jones from Martini Makers has been a bartender for the past six years. Dazzling the judges with his rum cocktail called 'Smokey Bitters' and freestyle cocktail called 'The Charmer' an elated Jones was ready to celebrate with family and friends who witnessed his spectacular victory at the annual Rum Festival at Angostura House in Laventille on September 14.
One of the main events of the festival that is now in its third year saw 10 mixologists from all over Trinidad and Tobago create some eye-catching drinks. Second place went to Kester Blake with his rum cocktail called 'Savage Garden' and his freestyle drink called 'Mystery Bell'. Blake received $3,000 while third placed Tyrone Benjamin received $2,000. Blake and Benjamin both had some thrilling presentations for their cocktails and though they were crowd favourites they ultimately had to settle for second and third place spots respectively.
Judged on presentation, creativity, taste and the use of Angostura rums and bitters, competitors were given a total of seven minutes to make two cocktails that must have at least five dashes of Angostura bitters incorporated in each drink.
Competitors were asked to create one rum cocktail and another cocktail of their own design in front of an eager crowd that waited patiently to sample the finished product.
2011 Angostura Aromatic Bitters Mixmaster Champion Carla Cupid was not able to make it into the winner's circle this year with her drinks
— 'Trini Mojo' and 'An Angostura Affair'.
Speaking with the Express after the competition, Cupid said, "This year the level of competition was very high. All the competitors really 'brought it' and some of drinks created showed such skill and a level of creativity that even blew me away. Going into the competition I was a little nervous even though I was here before. Just ask any of the other competitors -you do get a little nervous right before competition but once you do go in and start to prepare your drinks you are able to calm down and focus."
Giving some feedback to the competitors, head judge of the competition, Jamaal Bowen said, "For those of you who have not been here before give yourself a round of applause. I have judged competitions all over the world and have seen first-timers trembling and spilling their drinks. It was good that there was none of that here and many of you were able to hold your composure."
Bowen also noted the importance of good hygiene and the proper handling of ingredients.
"The level of competition was very high and many of you use really good techniques when mixing your drinks which made it very difficult for us to come up with a winner," he added.
Jones emerged the victor from the batch of this year's finalists: Alicia Cox, Carla Cupid, Cerron Banfield, Russel Mendez, Ravi Maharaj, Kieran Benjamin, Kester Blake, Keisha Antoine and Tyrone Benjamin.
11/4 oz Angostura 5 year old rum
¾ oz yellow chartreuse
1 whole egg
Fresh cinnamon bark
2 bar spoons white sugar
5 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
Method — Smoke glassware with fresh cinnamon bark soaked in Angostura Aromatic Bitters for three days. Shaken on ice.
Garnish — Caramelised cinnamon sugar, dusted orange wedge smoked with fresh cinnamon bark soaked in Angostura Aromatic Bitters for three days.
1 ½ oz Angostura 5 year old rum
¾ oz Benedictine
¼ oz Sherry vinegar
¼ oz fresh squeeze lime juice
1 bar spoon organic honey
5 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
Method — Stirred with ice made of mineral water
Garnish — Bay leaf foam infused with honey and bitters