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The week in pictures

db‘s Neal Baker was in Mexico this week covering the Jose Cuervo Dons of Tequila global cocktail competition, which sought to showcase what some of the world’s best bartenders can do with category-leading Tequila, a handful of ingredients and a panel of discerning judges (including Julio Bermejo, creator of the famous Tommys Margarita) over the course of five days.

The competition took place in an around the centre of the town of Tequila, where, from the Sky Bar at the Hotel Solar de las Animas – the luxury hotel owned by Jose Cuervo – contestants drank in the view over the square, with the Tequila volcano looming in the background.

The branded swimming pool in a central courtyard of the hotel, where, following the Grand Final, an unofficial and not-so-discreet after-party kept contestants and guests going until sunrise.

Horsin’ around with the contestants as they rode out to the agave fields, Neal’s somewhat white-knuckles betrayed the fact that he had never ridden a horse before…

The scene for the Grand Finale in the grounds of Jose Cuervo’s La Rojeña distillery, where five of the 17 contestants from around the world were chosen to compete in a final signature cocktail round to try to clinch the title.

And finally, the champion, Japan’s Koji Eshashi, flanked by the second- and third-placed contestants and the leading figures at Jose Cuervo.  Left to Right: Laura Duca (UAE, third place) Don Louis (master blender), Koji Esashi (Japan, winner) Dona Araceli (PR director), Don Francisco (Tequila master) and Sung-Min Park (South Korea, second place)

db editor-in-chief Patrick Schmitt MW officially received his Master of Wine certificate this week at an Institute of Masters of Wine ceremony in the City of London. Above, he is pictured with IMW chairman Sarah Jane Evans.

db also hosted its Rioja Masters competition this week, with judging taking place at Hispania in the City of London. The food was reportedly delicious, and in such vast quantities that judges were convinced they had recieved a suckling pig each. Above, a behind-the-scenes shot shows the tasting being set up, and below, our panel of judges.

To celebrate the release of the new James Bond film Spectre, Honest Grapes – the online wine club – has teamed up with tailor Timothy Everest at his private atelier in Spitalfields to host ‘Drink like Bond’ on November 13th, with these pre-event photos giving a taste of what guests can expect.

The evening will take fans on a journey through 007’s drinks cabinet, with an array of vintage wines and champagnes that have been featured in both literature and films alongside tailored canapés.

The drinks that will be on show (amongst others) include the classic Vespa Martini, Dom Perignon, Château Angelus and an 1842 Oloroso Sherry.

Tickets can be booked here.

This Halloween, an “Irish-style” wake was held at Mayfair bar Mr Fogg’s, where guests sipped on Miracle Vocal Elixir tipples and sang the departed Aunt Gertrude’s praises. “After a most celebratory toast, a horse drawn hearse carrying Aunt Gertrude, processed through the streets of London, drawing in quite the crowd as it passed through Piccadilly Circus and over to the newly launched Mr Fogg’s Tavern on the salubrious St. Martin’s Lane,” the bar said.

Monday night saw guests including actor Jeremy Renner, Gemma Chan, Laura Bailey and Clara Paget gather together to celebrate this year’s launch of La Maison Rémy Martin, Rémy Martin’s pop-up private members’ club open until the 27th November 2015. Above, Renner (right) is joined by Rémy Martin CEO Eric Vallat.

Joe Schofield from The American Bar and The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy was named as the national champion of the UK 2015 Beefeater MIXLDN Cocktail Competition this week.

Facing competition from over 12 contenders, Schofield impressed the panel of judges with his Mother’s Milk cocktail. Tying into the competition’s theme of the evolution of London, his cocktail was inspired by 24 Milk Street, which had been destroyed in the Great Fire of London but was later home to Victorian chef Isabella Beeton.

Schofield will be treated by Beefeater to a three-day immersion in London’s cocktail history, and will officially represent the UK in the Global Finals in January 2016.

Other national finals for Beefeater MIXLDN 2015 are in full swing, with local competitions in the Czech Republic and Slovakia also taking place this week.

Above is the Czech winner Miloš Danihelka, a bartender at Bar L’Fleur, Prague. Miloš’ winning cocktail – ‘B’ Lady – was inspired by cocktails created at both bars at the Savoy Hotel; modern yet classic.

Below, Slovakia’s Martin Župina was that country’s winner. A bartender at Hemingway Bar, which is also in Prague, Martin’s winning cocktail – the Roastbeefeater – was inspired by the Victorian age.

At this week’s Wines of Germany importers meeting, this year’s 31 Days of German Riesling winners – retailer Luvians and restaurant London House – joined the team to collect their certificates.

Sticking with German wine, members of the UK wine trade gathered at The Sampler in London to enjoy a selection of undiscovered and currently unrepresented German wines at the Wines of Germany ‘Get it On’ tasting.

Press and industry gathered in the candlelit surrounds of The Court Room in St Andrew, Holborn for the UK launch of Don Papa Rum’s limited edition 10 year old this week.
Inspired by The Masskara Festival held each year in Bacolod, Philippines where Don Papa Rum is made, guests enjoyed Don Papa 10 cocktails, canapés from acclaimed Belgian chefs Glen Ramaekers and Yannick Van Aeken, while making their own customised works of art in a mask-masking masterclass with acclaimed Artist of Masks Charlotte Tiley.

Reigning Miss Scotland, Mhairi Fergusson and former Red Hot Chilli Piper and General Manager of The Famous Grouse Experience, Stuart Cassells, last night hoped that a new world record was set when 152 people took part in a simultaneous “raise a dram” moment at Glenturret Distillery in Crieff.

Accompanying Mhairi and also raising a special dram was her boyfriend and Scotland rugby star Finn Russell.

Aussie wine brand Wirra Wirra has also hosted its annual “McMurtie Cup” this week, its spin on the famous horse race the Melbourne Cup. In keeping with tradition, the Wirra Wirra team were racing round an obstacle course on hobby horses jumping over wine barrels.

We kicked off the week in style with lunch at Sea Containers at The Mondrian hotel on the South Bank hosted by the cherubic and utterly lovely Larry Cherubino, who talked us through a large selection of his wines including the top tier Cherubino range and its divine Chardonnay.

The food at Sea Containers didn’t disappoint, from juicy ribeye and tuna sashimi to this pretty as a picture scallop ceviche served in its shell.

Among our favourite wines on pour during the lunch were the Cherubino Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, both of which showed off the exciting potential of Western Australia, where ever more elegant wines are made.

We also found time to head to the Worship Street Whistling Shop where co-owner Tom Aske talked us through some of the quirky cocktails on his new menu inspired by the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. Among the most curious is the 1691 made with goat’s cheese-infused Ketel One Vodka, spiced raspberry, mead and Grand Mariner, which delighted with its tart tangy nature, the goat’s cheese adding texture and complexity rather than OTT flavour.

Another of our favourite sips on the new menu is the Milk and Silk, which blends roasted spelt Bulleit Bourbon with lemon, rice malt syrup and clarified milk.

We also loved the intriguing Neck Oil No.2, featuring barrel-aged Hennessy and Woodford apple brandy, duck fat, cider, sour apple and barrel-aged bitters.

We were lucky enough to be invited to try out the food and cocktail offering at Sky Garden in the City this week, which makes the most of its 35th floor location via a giant glass space that reminded us of Kew Gardens. We sipped whisky sours the sounds of a live swing band and drunk in the view of The Shard amid a purple haze.

… and finally, the breathtaking view of the Big Smoke from Sky Garden

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