Perfection drives everything Tequila Patrón does. From the farmers who grow the finest blue weber agave to the detail-oriented distillers that craft the spirit, Patrón’s dedication to perfecting tequila is unparalleled. The brand’s commitment to create the perfect drink experience doesn’t end at the bottle, though. For the past five years, the luxury tequila brand has hosted Patrón Perfectionists, one of the world’s premiere cocktail competitions. The competition showcases top talent from over 32 countries vying for top mixologist honours. These cocktail connoisseurs hail from some of the world’s best bars, and compete with the goal of creating a Patrón-based drink so unforgettable, so perfect it’ll likely be the Pantheon of famous cocktails one day.
On Tuesday, November 5, the Canadian Patrón Perfectionists Final competition took place at newly opened Lobby on Queen West. Five winners from previous regional heats—with representatives from Kelowna, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax—arrived at the venue ready to shake, stir, mix, and blend their way to first place, which would guarantee them a chance to compete in the upcoming Global Finals.
“We are inspiring bartenders to create moments that really matter to consumers, through drink experiences that surprise and delight them, by creating, then presenting amazing cocktails that showcase the premiumness and versatility of Patrón,” says Matthew Sykes, Senior Director of Global Marketing at Patrón.
Here’s what Canada’s five cocktail crafting masters presented to the panel of judges Tuesday night.
Hometown representative Blaise Couturier (of Patois Toronto) opens the evening to cheers that quickly quiet as he introduces the crowd to the concept of kintsugi, the Japanese process of mending broken pottery with gold resin. “They say once mended, this item is more perfect and beautiful than before it was broken,” trills Couturier while making his whimsically named Violette Tendencies, which is built around a triplet of spirits: Patrón Silver, Crème de Violette and Rinomato Americano. A single clarified ice cube with gold in its centre, alluding kintsugi, brings the anecdote full circle.
Instead of a delicate elegant crystal glass, Montreal’s Johnathan Homier opted to serve his drink, Where Do Bees Go In Winter, inside a clay bowl that’s garnished with a thin sheet of ice, a wintergreen leaf, and a honey dipper (to break the ice). Although the drink itself is a blend of only three elements—Patrón Silver fat-washed with beeswax, buckwheat coffee distillate and buckwheat honey water—it’s a laborious process to create. “The cocktail follows the rule of three, but simple does not mean simplistic,” says Homier, who leads the bar program at Four Seasons Montreal.
Jared Schmidt of Kelowna’s The Orchard Room christened his drink, It Takes a Valley, as a double-pronged nod to the idiom “It takes a village” (each bottle of Patrón goes through 60 pairs of hands on its journey from field to bottle) and because it “literally takes a valley,” specifically the Okanagan Valley, to grow the apples and grapes used in this fruit-forward quaff. Schmidt’s celebration of the parallels of the bountiful Okanagan and the valleys of Mexico, specifically the Jalisco highlands which produce Patron’s 100% blue weber agave, struck a visible chord with judges. The cocktail combines Patrón Silver with an apple-infused Benedictine, a nip of organic white verjus, and a splash of super dry apple cider. A perfectly trimmed sliver of grapefruit peel is then perched on the lip of the chilled glass.
Ontarian-turned-East Coaster Andrew Keyes (of Lot Six) aims to showcase Nova Scotia’s fantastic produce with his cocktail Roots to Roots, which he created in the early spring when the key ingredient, rhubarb, was one of the only things sprouting. The crowd erupts in a cheer to the snare drum-like rhythm Keyes makes while preparing the cocktail with his duo of shakers.
Chad Lawrence, from Calgary’s Comery Block Barbeque, was the final contestant of the night. The avowed perfectionist wasn’t satisfied by simply making a faultless tipple, he went a step further by having his own soundtrack: a baroque quartet. Against a backdrop of strings, Lawrence waxed eloquently on the perfection of bees while creating a Patrón Añejo-centred potion.
After all five bartenders presented their creations, the quintet went behind the bar to make their cocktails for the crowd. After an hour of sipping, decisions had been made by the judges and the crowd, who voted for people’s choice. Toronto representative Blaise Couturier may have been the people’s favourite, but Jared Schmidt’s coupe was declared the overall winner by the judges. In January, he will head to Jalisco, Mexico to compete at the Patrón Perfectionists Global Finals, which will be hosted at Hacienda Patrón. There, Schmidt will compete against some of the world’s top mixologists. “For me, perfection is being inspired by the people around you who are where you want to be and chasing that,” says Schmidt, who can’t wait to see what the world’s best will be creating in a few short months.
If Patrón Perfectionists has piqued your desire to hone your own cocktail crafting skills, head to www.cocktaillab.com to discover a world of fabulous Patrón cocktails that are sure to dazzle any guests you may be hosting this holiday season. And if you’d like to experience perfection at home, try the new Gran Patrón Smoky—fewer than 1,000 bottles of this artisanal silver tequila are being released in Canada. The super premium tequila is created using an ancient technique that involves charcoal roasting the blue weber agave piñas in underground pits for seven days— yielding a distinctive, smoky flavour. Gran Patrón Smoky is available online at the LCBO for $277.15 per bottle for a limited time.