Day Three began with one of the most important challenges in this year’s GCP 2013 Brand Ambassador Edition. Each finalist crafted a presentation to give as if they were in front of a bar manager or store buyer. They pitched the G’Vine brand and answered random questions thrown at them by the panel of judges: Dale DeGroff, Gary Regan and Jean Jacques Robicquet from EuroWineGate. Sound nerve-wracking? It was! But what better way to prepare for future job interviews than feedback from these professionals?
The Brand Ambassador presentation was followed by Philip Duff’s gin quiz which covered questions about which brand sells the most gin, which country makes the most gin, and other pertinent category questions. Ironically, the question raising the most controversy was a pop culture reference as to which juice Snoop is referring to when he raps about “gin + juice.” Philip’s answer was grapefruit, while others insisted it was OJ. As for me, I wonder how much thought gangsta partiers actually put into their fresh-fruit highball mixers. But, hey, who knows…? Sunny D, anyone?
Once the challenges were out of the way, everyone had a relaxing picnic on the distillery lawn complete with dry rose wine, more fantastic French cheeses, salads, etc. then went for a rest before the Green & White Pool Party that evening.
While people primped, I was Dale DeGroff’s barback for a few hours as we squeezed limes, prepared garnishes and pre-batched cocktails for the finalists. Here are a few things I learned behind the bar with Dale:
Wear gloves if you’re hand-juicing a lot of citrus (or cutting peppers).
- When flaming a citrus round, don’t “cook” the skin before squeezing it. I used to let the flame linger a moment to release the oil, before squeezing the flame out across the surface of the drink. I know quite a few people who do it that way. Announcement: Dale says not to do that – just bring the flame up and squeeze immediately otherwise it looks like you’re fumbling around. He feels that the surprise of a sudden flash of flame is much more intriguing when its done in a nanosecond. Also, he uses matches for flaming, not a lighter.
- Create a little bit of magic: rather than fiddling with the matchbox on the table in front of the guest, Dale told me to cut the match box and attach the striking pad to the side of the table, and put wooden matches in a rocks glass. It looks classier and a bit creates more mystery around the drink.
- His Copa Verde cocktail is amazing. To make it at home, put fresh avocado, Excellia blanco tequila, some honey syrup and fresh lime juice in a blender. Once smooth, pour into a cocktail tin, shake with ice, strain into a half-salt-rimmed shot glass. Try it.
As people arrived for the evening pool party, they were first greeted with Dale’s Copa Verde. Once those were gone, they had the option of his G’Vine Martini or Excellia Margarita made with June liqueur instead of orange liqueur. Once those were done, we switched to G & T, wine, and the bottles lining the in-house bar at the distillery. I won’t tell you exactly what happened later that night, in there… but let’s just say the term “layback” has been translated into several languages. You’re welcome, world.
No French party is complete without a game of petanque. Its kind of like bowling but with small metal balls. In our case, it was like a mini world cup, with players from all over the world:
Dale DeGroff was our team captain, and our members were Fracesc Cairo from Barcelona, Mathieu LeFeuvrier from Paris and Mischa Bonova from Slovakia.
Jean Sebastian Robicquet led the opposing team with Kelly Levinson from DSWE in New York, Kellie Thorn from Atlanta, Mari Nakano from Tokyo and Meaghan Dorman from New York. Somehow our Singaporean finalist, Irwan Mohammed, became the referee. This is where peoples’ competitive sides really came out! Let’s just say that I was a tiny bit relieved that the other team won. Nobody wants to beat a French man in petanque on his own field.
The end of the night came too soon for most. Too late for some. Either way, everyone had to get back to the hotel for some rest before the big event on Day 4 – the Summer Ball!