Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The sweetness of Bitters


LOOKING FOR BARTENDERS: Angostura executive manager of export and business development, Genevieve Jodhan, left, Senior manager of marketing for Angostura Bitters globally, Alex Thomas and senior manager public affairs and communications, Giselle LaRonde-West are leading the preparations for the upcoming Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge on Carnival Sunday. —Photo: Wayne Bowman

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There is a multitude of uses for the indigenous Angostura Bitters, from giving a unique flavour to meat when being seasoned and giving a little zing to homemade ice cream to helping one break a gas pain and flavouring a rum cocktail. Angostura Bitters is exported to 160 markets globally and where it is sent to from here, it's delivered to a number of territories via third party suppliers. Of all the various bitters made wherever, the Angostura brand is by far the most popular.

Angostura does not, however, allow complacency to set in and is constantly creating campaigns to ensure that its flagship product maintains market share and also continue to capture new territory. Among these is the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge held annually by the company in which bartenders from other countries compete for the honour of being named an Angostura Brand Ambassador.

The challenge is held in components with a series of regional competitions from which the finalists are brought here to face off against each other. This year's challenge began last September with competitions in 11 regions including Trinidad and Tobago until November. There were about six to ten finalists in each region and they were required to create cocktails using a maximum of six ingredients, one of which must be Angostura Bitters.

The international final takes place on Carnival Sunday at the House of Angostura, Laventille and will feature bartenders from Trinidad, Jamaica, United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ukraine, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, Russia and India. The overall winner will receive US$10,000 and the opportunity to represent Angostura as the brand ambassador for Angostura Bitters.

Angostura's executive manager of export and business development, Genevieve Jodhan said the challenge is not only about promoting the bitters, but to also serve as a promotional platform for the range of Angostura rums, which are not in as many markets.

Angostura rums are presently in 50 markets across the world and it is hoped that the annual challenge will serve to introduce the competing bartenders to the rums and that they will in turn introduce these to their respective countries.

"We are looking for the bartenders competing in the challenge to be our liquid soldiers out there in the world. Our bitters is leading in most markets and what we are seeking to accomplish is gaining new markets and to also regain the lead in those we have slipped. Our rums are not in as many markets as the bitters and we want to remain as the number one bitters always so that the rums can follow and establish a lead in global market share," Jodhan said.

Along with the foreign competitors there will be about 90 other specially invited people from 20 countries coming for the event. These will include foreign media, international distributors marketing and sales staff, cocktail enthusiasts, foreign brand ambassadors, foreign bar owners and the judges comprising master mixologists and other experts.

Angostura senior manager public affairs and communications, Giselle LaRonde-West said the international bartenders who are competing are not only excited about the competition, but also about being in the country where Angostura Bitters is made. They are also excited over having the opportunity to experience Carnival and they will be invited by Angostura to play mas in Port of Spain on Monday and Tuesday. So in a nutshell the challenge is also serving to promote Carnival and other attractions in Trinidad.

A number of celebrities will soon be in Trinidad and Tobago for the Angostura Global Challenge. They are the following:

Salvatore Calabrese — Italian OBE recipient who is coming as a head judge and also to conduct a mixology session for the competitors as well as mixologists and bartenders in Trinidad. He a session on Carnival Friday at Angostura and judge the competition on Carnival Sunday. 

Ann Tuennerman — From the USA — she started the great event — Tales of the Cocktail held in New Orleans annually.

Hidetsugu Ueno — is from Japan and a brilliant sculptor. He will be judging also and will do a demo of carving ice into a cube that looks exactly like a diamond.  He will be doing this on Carnival Saturday.

David Delaney Jr — he is the reigning champion of the competition.