December 2011

Rockin’ with ‘toshan

By: Deborah Parker Wong

Combine 19 of the nation’s most inspired bartenders, three exacting judges and Auchentoshan Three Wood Whisky with three rounds of heated mixing. Serve up with a two-week trip to London for a stint with Tony Conigliaro at his famed 69 Colebrooke Row bar and Drinks Factory and watch the ice fly. 

Competition winner Charles Joly of Chicago’s Drawing Room.

Seventeen finalists gave their undivided attention to Charles Joly of The Drawing Room in Chicago and Clinton Terry from PX in Alexandria, VA, who went head to head in Las Vegas in the final oratory bout of a demanding three-round competition to determine who would be the man to make the Auchentoshan Switch. Joly prevailed with an eloquent portrait of the Gallic origins, styles and colloquial jargon associated with Scotch whisky and the production methods used in crafting Auchentoshan Three Wood.

“We’re in the second Golden Age of cocktail culture, and we’re lucky enough to be conscious of it,” said Joly during an after party held in celebration of his win at the sleek Cosmopolitan hotel.

“Competitions of this caliber forward our craft,” continued Joly who is a career bartender and serves as the Vice President of the Illinois chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild. “As mentors and educators, it’s essential that we live in the moment without losing sight of customer service which is our first priority as professionals.”

This wickedly elaborate competition was nine months in the planning and began with a pre-qualifying round that required contestants to make video entries of them selves crafting lemonade and an Old Fashioned with Auchentoshan Three Wood. Twenty contestants, some of whom were first-time competitors, were chosen from cities around the U.S. and flown to Las Vegas to compete. The House of Blues at Mandalay Bay provided a theatrical backdrop for what qualified as no less than a mixology marathon. First-round cocktails demonstrated difficult levels of execution and showcased hand-crafted ingredients that included barrel-aged coffee, fresh pumpkin juice and Nicaraguan-cigar tea.

When the five semi-finalists set to work against the clock using two of several mystery ingredients, which included fresh pears, nutmeg, whole cinnamon stick, a variety of citrus and vermouths, the energy in the room rose to a fevered pitch. The rigorous requirements at every stage of the event worked to heighten creativity as competitors rose to the challenge and presented their handiwork to the judges.

“Extreme fall flavors such as pumpkin, clove and apple cider were the overriding theme of the competition,” said judge Camper English. Many of the first-round contestants, including Joly, built cocktails using sherry to mirror the rich flavors of Auchentoshan Three Wood, Scotland’s only triple-distilled triple malt which is matured in three different casks—American bourbon, Spanish oloroso sherry and lastly in Pedro Ximénez sherry. “Sherry was well complemented by citrus in several tiki-, Mojito- and up-style cocktails to a surprising and successful effect,” observed English.
The judges with the winner (left to right): David Clelland, international Auchentoshan whisky specialist; winner Charles Joly of The Drawing Room in Chicago; Andrew Pollard, VP, United States Bartender’s Guild Las Vegas Chapter; and Camper English, winner of Tales of the Cocktail 2011 “Best Cocktail Writing” award.

The U.S. leg of the competition was sponsored by the United States Bartenders Guild, represented by Andrew Pollard, Vice President of the USBG Las Vegas Chapter, who judged along with master of ceremonies for the evening David Clelland, international Auchentoshan whisky specialist, and English, winner of Tales of the Cocktail 2011 “Best Cocktail Writing” award.

Chapter President Armando Rosario, Director of Mixology and Spirits Education for SW&S, noted that cocktails competitions have come full circle, with a decided emphasis on classic cocktails and elegant garnishes such as Joly’s “scotched” cherry. “The industry is now using a culinary approach towards innovative cocktails that may rely on fewer ingredients but requires an even greater level of skill.”

As for the making the “Switch,” Joly will spend two weeks at the London bar 69 Colebrooke Row and Drinks Factory, while his U.K. counterpart, Martin Ball from Corridor Bar in Manchester, heads for two weeks at New York City’s part-theater, part-chemistry lab bar Apotheke. Their time will be spent doing what world-class bartenders do best: visiting local producers, sourcing and creating unique ingredients and, of course, working behind the bar.

It wasn’t a chance roll of the dice that propelled Chicago barman Charles Joly to the winner’s circle of this heated cocktail competition, but lady luck is certainly smiling on these winning cocktails.

Charles Joly’s First Round Cocktail:
The Clydesider

When presenting this cocktail to the judges,  Joly noted that a Clydesider is a colloquial term for a working-class person from the towns between Glasgow and Greenock on the River Clyde in Scotland.

  • 1½ oz. Auchentoshan Three Wood
  • ¾ oz. Dry Oloroso Sherry
  • ¾ oz lemon juice
  • 1⁄3 oz. maple syrup
  • Pedro Ximenez  foam
  • Three Wood whisky–infused Maraschino cherry
  • Combine Auchentoshan, dry oloroso, lemon juice and maple syrup in a mixing glass. Add ice, shake well and strain into small pilsner glass, leaving about 1½ inches of space at top of glass. Top with Pedro Jiménez foam and garnish with the “scotched” cherry.


Second Round Cocktail:
The Glasgow Patter

Joly named this cocktail after the distinct local dialect spoken in and around Glasgow.

  • 1½ oz. Auchentoshan Three Wood
  • ½ oz. Grand Marnier
  • ¾ oz lemon juice
  • ¼ oz. simple syrup
  • ½ oz. Earl Grey tea
  • ¾ oz. cider
  • Egg white
  • Drop of Angostura Bitters
  • Lemon twist
  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Dry shake, without ice, to combine ingredients. Add ice, shake well and strain into a cocktail glass. Drop Angostura on top of cocktail and swirl decoratively. Garnish with lemon twist and express the lemon oils over cocktail for aroma.


THE TASTING PANEL, 6345 Balboa Blvd, Ste. 111, Encino, CA 91316
Content ©2016 THE TASTING PANEL magazine. All rights reserved