Chau Tran wins Mediterranean Inspirations by Gin Mare 2019

Chau Tran of Sydney’s Burrow Bar took out the top gong at the international final.

Chau Tran of Burrow Bar in Australia has been crowned winner of Gin Mare Mediterranean Inspirations cocktail competition at a close final held in Ibiza.

Gin Mare invited 7 finalists from around the world to compete in Ibiza for the grand prize of the eighth edition of their annual cocktail competition, a 4-day course on distilling with one of the most prestigious and forward thinking still producers of the world, Edwin Van Eijk.  At Vila Mare, Gin Mare brand’s home, with a breath-taking Mediterranean landscape as the backdrop, contestants were challenged with crafting a gastrobartender drink based on bergamot as a representative ingredient of Mediterranean food culture. This year acclaimed chefs Fabrizio Fiorani- Asia’s Best Pastry Chef for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and Jonatan Gomez Luna- the award-winning chef of Le Chique, a Latin American’s Best Top 50 Restaurant, acted as coaches and worked together with the contestants on the development of the perfect pairing. 

The finalists.

The finalists, which each won the heats in their respective home countries to reach the last stage on the 3rd September in Ibiza, did a great work in terms of gastrobartending and perfectly understood the connection between Gin Mare and gastronomy. Those talented bartenders were Jon Lee from Singapore, Alvin Ching from Hong Kong, Terry Lang from China, Odett Cruz from Mexico, Marian Scaturro and Greg Kong from US and Chau Tran from Australia. 

Although the standard was really high, Chau won over the judges with her “Fluffy Emu”, an exalted version of a shoey with which she intended to share a little bit of her home country combined with the Mediterranean world. “I really wanted to show off every part of the bergamot (a rare and hard to find citrus in its fresh format believe it or not in Australia). Until 2.5 weeks ago I had never had fresh bergamot. I’ve juiced it, pith on, pith off, skinned it, made oleo, made a leather, tinctured, tea-ed, dehydrated every part of it, made several curds with it. But I also wanted to share a little bit of my home”. 

The artful blend of Gin Mare, bergamot curd and Seville oranges juice topped with sparkling Australian wine and spritzed with Earl grey elixir wowed the judging panel, which included renowned industry experts Joe Schofield, Pippa Guy, Cesar Daniel “Burrín” Ponce, Yael Vengroff and Jorge Balbontin. In the words of Chau: “This drink is made to stimulate an appetite – using a blend of bitter and savouriness from the bergamot skin that is micro-planed into the curd, with cut through with the acidic juice. The sparkling wine is a nod to the Giró family that started as sherry and wine merchants before they started to make gin”. To accompany her cocktail, she served a Pavlova with a base of bergamot, finger lime and wild honey distillate designed to create a bridge between the drink and food pairing. “(…) in a last flourish I am spritzing the top with strawberry gum elixir Gin Mare as the base- to add a beautiful nose to the Pavlova and super charge the fresh taste of the fresh strawberries”, said Chau.

The results of the competition were announced at an exciting awards ceremony where contestants, sponsors, jury members and Gin Mare team came together to celebrate in Mediterranean style. Emotions were high when Chau’s name was announced- after having lost her luggage during her 30+ hours flight to Ibiza she could not believe it: “This has been the most overwhelming, inspiring and life changing experience. Giving bartenders like us direct access to the best professionals in our industry that are at the top of their game is something I don’t think words can truly describe. On top of this I have truly made lifelong friends with the fellow competitors. I cannot wait to see where we all go and grow from here and no doubt our paths will absolutely cross” 

The awards ceremony night was the icing on the cake to conclude a 3-day experience of sharing, caring and learning with some of the most relevant gastronomic and liquid experts. A fun adventure with seminars and workshops by renowned professionals, tastings of the cuisine from accomplished chefs, a cocktail competition where the panel of judges presented their skills to the finalists and the most amazing views of the northern part of Ibiza island at Vila Mare. Congratulations to all the contestants.

Tran’s Fluffy Emu.
Fluffy Emu

  • 45ml Gin Mare
  • 50ml or 45g curd (in this curd there is lacto ferment finger lime and wild honey distillate and bergamot oleo)
  • 30ml Seville orange juice – sweet oranges

Shake strain into a tin, top with sparkling Australian wine. Spritz with Earl grey elixir.

For the curd: 
Bergamot Curd – bain maree – butter, yolks, sugar, juiced of bergamot, micro-planed zest of bergamot.

Stir in bergamot oleo and finger lime & wild honey distillate (I worked with distiller Sean McGuire of Poor Tom’s distillery from Marickville who makes delicious Australian booze).

Used 10kg of local finger limes grown in a friends orchard – Lacto-ferment this (boosting sugar) for 4 days. (bacteria on skin of finger limes = lactic acid).

Wild Australian honey – no intervention – Malfroys Gold Honey local to the area (used to increase the available sugars in the fermentation).

I pulled the fermentation at 4 days because the flavours developed, powerful, complex and were quite bright.

Then steeped the fermented fruit in 55% neutral grain spirit to set the flavour and finally distilled it (it is potent – 85.5% abv)

Base: bergamot curd, finger lime & wild honey lacto ferment distillate, bergamot oleo and Mascarpone cream.

Fresh strawberries lightly pickled with bergamot juice, strawberry gum elixir, finger lime caviar (champagne and pink varietals), micro-planed bergamot zest, pavlova and texture – dehydrated meringue and bergamot oleo dust crumbs.

Basil Mascarpone was piped in the centre as well.