MEET THE MAKER
LOIC CRETEL ON THE ARK
A whole new class of ‘booze cruise’.
We love GBBO as much as the next Brit, but Copperhead Gin have seriously raised the competition bar with #thealchemistexperience. Last week the 11 best mixologists in the world (our Loic amongst them) clambered aboard an ark to compete their socks off , facing a new challenge at each dock. Let’s rewind a few steps to paint a fuller picture…
In August the Copperhead reps were scouring the UK for the best Copperhead cocktail and its talented creator. Pulling up at Hampton Manor, Loic served them Natural Harmony; the William Morris inspired cocktail in which Copperhead Black Batch is paired with Copperhead Gibson strawberry jam, pickled beetroot, Tonka bean and kombucha. A few weeks later Loic and three other fab bartenders headed to Belgium to re-create their cocktails for a bar filled with guests and some very discerning judges. Loic and his Natural Harmony triumphed, becoming Copperhead’s UK winner. They loved the homemade ingredients in his recipe; the apple cidre that the HM team pressed last Autumn, the beetroot grown in our Victorian walled garden. They loved the old cooking techniques that Loic employed; fermentation, pickling and preserving.
Two weeks later Loic was on a plane to Barcelona. There he met the 11 winning bartenders from 10 competing countries. Over dinner they were told that everything they did over the next 24 hours would inspire their first challenge. The following day they visited La Boqueria, the Spanish infamous market, where they were given €20 and one hour to buy garnishes for their first drink; a martini. Loic bought some amazing chorizo, figs (which were in season) and lemon. He made a seawater solution and a chorizo oil martini topped with fresh fig. That night up to 50 cocktail enthusiasts sampled the creations and voted for their favourite.
The next port of call was Sète in France where they visited an artisanal ice cream makers; Les glaces de la Bouline. Following a masterclass, the judges picked 11 ice cream flavours and pulled the contestants’ names out of a hat to see who could choose first. Apricot and saffron already nabbed, Loic chose a spicy chai which he mixed with Copperhead Black Batch gin, green chartreuse sherbert, a lime, sugar and honey reduction, Fever-tree mediterranean tonic and egg white powder. The cocktail connoisseurs paid their dues (and Loic noted that judge Tony (of The Nightjar) gave his cocktail his vote.
New place, new challenge and the competitors found themselves at the Seven Pines Resort Ibiza where Tony Pescatori gave a masterclass on gin-based Tiki cocktails. The challenge; to create a Tiki cocktail with a twist. Loic muddled and shook Copperhead Black Batch and Gibson with a homemade apricot, vanilla and almond jam and strawberry balsamic vinegar for acidity. This fruity, refreshing concoction was taste tested by the Copperhead five judges alongside Birmingham’s own Robert Wood, the competition’s 2017 winner.
On the last day, the ark pulled into Palma de Mallorca and the contestants visited Door 13 where they were given a masterclass in making savoury cocktails (taught by Marian Beke and Erik Lorincz). The challenge was set. For lunch the group had grabbed a rushed Mcdonalds (bear with me, this tangent has a purpose). For Loic’s savoury martini he stole inspiration from the remaining Mcdonalds tomato ketchup sachets. His tuna pizza inspired cocktail thus came into fruition. Loic mixed Gibson gin with dried tomato oil and Heinz ketchup to create the base. He infused vermouth with seaweed to achieve a fishy flavour and then garnished the glass with seaweed on one half, and parmesan cheese on the other, the drinker could pick a side… we think this is one you may have to see to believe.
By the time the ark had pulled into harbour Belgium had been crowned the winner and Loic stepped off the boat utterly inspired. His chai ice cream cocktail will, following some TLC, be debuting on the Peel’s list. Loic is already working on his January cocktail menu which leaves us to implore you to try his William Morris menu whilst it’s still around. After all, Natural Harmony is the drink that made Loic the UK Copperhead champion: now that deserves a toast!