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    Daniel Grammer wins sixth edition of Black Forest Bar Cup

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    The bartender from The Door cocktail bar in Karlsruhe took the top spot with his "Plum with an Overseas Twist" creation. Second prize went to Paul Minea from The Waldorf Hilton London, while Robin Lühert from Bar + Cafe Esprit in Göttingen came in third. The competition, which has been run by Willi Schoellmann since 2016, challenges bartenders to evoke the flavour of the Black Forest in a cocktail glass.

    What ingredients would you put in a cocktail to capture the very essence of the Black Forest? That was the challenge presented to eleven bartenders at the Haus Zauberflöte hotel and restaurant in Offenburg on 24 October. The participants came from right across Germany as well as Switzerland and Great Britain – and each of them rose to the task in their own unique way. A maximum of five ingredients were permitted, only one of which the participants were allowed to create themselves. Each was given a maximum of ten minutes to make and present their cocktail.

    The entries included some inspiring ingredients such as a syrup of rose hips gathered in the local area, Black Forest milk, and local spirits such as Zibärtle brandy and Williams pear schnapps. The cocktail creations also drew on the participant's personal experiences and showcased their outstanding creativity.

    The winning cocktail: Caribbean flair, Christmas and a childhood sweets drawer

    First prize went to Daniel Grammer for his local take on the Caribbean classic Corn 'n Oil. Inspired by memories of his childhood home in Swabia – specifically the sweets drawer and the basket of fruit in front of it – Grammer put together a concoction of plum brandy, chocolate bitters, and Black Forest rum topped off with an infusion of plum, cinnamon and orange. To give his cocktail a fruity, Christmassy note, he added a little homemade Falernum, a type of liqueur that originated in Barbados. The final result was garnished with some dried fruit leather made from the scraps Grammer had left over – a reflection of his passion for avoiding waste and promoting sustainability.

    The aromatic complexity of his cocktail received particular praise from the five-person jury, which consisted of Gabriel Daun (Gekko Group, Frankfurt), Jonas Stein (KINK Bar & Restaurant, Berlin), Nils Wrage ("Mixology" bar-culture magazine), Falco Torini (brand ambassador, Schweppes) and Paul Sieferle (Sieferle & KØ Bar, Mannheim). "It's not just about how the cocktail looks and tastes. It's also about the story behind it, the bartender's demeanour, and the style and neatness of their work," said Willi Schoellmann, a patron of the event, at the prize ceremony. "Daniel got all of that right – and the bartenders in second and third place weren't far behind!"

    Second and third prize: greetings from London and a Celtic sun god

    The Bar Cup final followed on the heels of a preliminary round held in London in June, which was organised by Willi Schoellmann in collaboration with the dishwasher manufacturer Meiko, one of the event's main sponsors. That was where Paul Minea won a golden ticket to the Offenburg final, and he certainly did London proud with his cocktail creation, which the jury ranked in second place. Nicknamed "The Wild Forest", his cocktail evoked flavours of the Black Forest by combining a local gin with a black-cherry liqueur and a syrup made from blackberries and raspberries. Third place went to a cocktail based on the fable of the Celtic sun god Belenus, who is often associated with Belchen, one of the most striking mountains in the Black Forest region. Created by Robin Lühert from Göttingen, the "Belenus, the Golden Forest" cocktail is a sour based on apple brandy and verjus.

    In the run-up to this year's Black Forest Bar Cup, Willi Schoellmann and his team received over 60 applications and recipe ideas. Their task was to browse through the entries and select the best ones for the final in Offenburg. "This is the sixth time we've run the competition, and we've seen a steady rise in the quality of the entries. But we're also constantly pushing our standards higher, and this years decision to introduce a preliminary round in London in collaboration with Meiko has really taken the Bar Cup to the next level! We're hoping to repeat that next year and show that we can take the competition up another notch," says Schoellmann. "Other countries and cities are already on the cards, such as Singapore."

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