A BELFAST barman has been named the best in the UK after scooping the Finlandia Vodka Cup.
Sam Cherocles, from the Merchant Hotel, was crowned the UK cocktail king at the final in London on Monday (November 19) after dazzling judges with his Irish folk-tale inspired citrus infusion, the Finn McCool.
The local lad beat 17 other bartenders from across the UK in the final, which was held in the new All Star Lanes at Whiteley.
The finalists had spent the past three months competing at various heats in nine cities throughout the UK, with judges tasting more than 500 cocktails with the mission of scouting the UK`s freshest bartending talent.
In order for Sam to clinch the title, he had to prepare two cocktails, a vodka aperitif and a Finlandia vodka long drink. No more than five ingredients could be used and all contestants had 15 minutes to complete the tasks.
Sam now travels to Lapland in February to represent the UK in the International Finlandia Vodka Cup.
Jamie Butler, Finlandia Vodka manager at Brown-Forman, praised Sam`s creation saying he beat a lot of stiff competition.
"It was a difficult decision but Sam stood out this year for showing a real understanding of taste, balance, texture and presentation," he said.
"He`s definitely got what it takes to compete in the international round and we`re looking forward to seeing him represent the UK in February."
HOW TO MAKE THE FINN McCOOL:
60mls Finlandia Vodka
5mls Amer Picon
15mls fresh lemon juice
20mls passion fruit cordial (infused with 50mls Jasmine Tea)
35mls Fever Tree Tonic Water
Shake all ingredients except the tonic in a cocktail shaker and strain it into an ice filled highball. Add the tonic and garnish with a grapefruit zest and 1/4 wedge of fresh passion fruit.