Don Papa Rum has been holding cocktail mixing competitions in the UK, the Netherlands, and Denmark since 2014. Finally, on September 26, 2017 at Downtown & Halsted in Bonifacio Global City, the local rum staged its first annual Don Papa Cocktail Competition in the Philippines.

Don Papa Rum’s First Annual Don Papa Cocktail Competition at Downtown & Halsted in Bonifacio Global City

Don Papa Rum Brand Manager Cri Molina says that every Don Papa competition that’s taken place in Europe is done with the country’s own distinctive flair. The UK’s competition was inspired by Master Chef’s mystery box challenge; the Netherlands’ featured collaborations between chefs and bartender and focused more on food and cocktail pairings. Denmark’s was straightforward with an open call competition in Copenhagen.

Here in Don Papa’s motherland, the judging panel took into consideration what makes a cocktail great for everyone, not only the experts. “It’s not just about the technique of how you make it but the story behind it, how it tastes, how it looks. So we chose people who are experts in these fields: taste and balance, visual presentation, storytelling, and the use of the brand,” Molina says.

Judges Inquirer columnist Tessa Prieto-Valdes and Hinge Inquirer Publications Inc.’s group publisher Bea Ledesma

The competition featured 12 finalists presenting their Don Papa Rum signature cocktails to four judges: Don Papa Rum co-founder and managing director Andrew Garcia, Hyatt Hotels Corporation restaurant manager Benjamin Schertzer, Hinge Inquirer Publications Inc.’s group publisher Bea Ledesma, and Inquirer columnist Tessa Prieto-Valdes.

Don Papa Rum co-founder and managing director Andrew Garcia, Inquirer columnist Tessa Prieto-Valdes, Oto’s Kathrin Osmillo, Prisma Boracay’s Maxniel Seruelo, Hinge Inquirer Publications Inc.’s group publisher Bea Ledesma, Hyatt Hotels Corporation restaurant manager Benjamin Schertzer, ABV’s Abby Quilal-lan, and Samba at Shangri-La at the Fort’s John Robert Lorenzo

The competition was stiff. Popular local speakeasies and bars sent their most talented contenders, but only four bartenders emerged as the first winners of the competition: Oto’s Kathrin Osmillo, ABV’s Abby Quilal-lan, Prisma Boracay’s Maxniel Seruelo, and Samba at Shangri-La at the Fort’s John Robert Lorenzo. The winners will be treated to an immersive trip to Negros Occidental to visit Don Papa’s distillery to learn about its roots and heritage while enjoying the best of what the island has to offer.

ABV bar’s Abigael Quilal-lan and her cocktail Road Less Traveled made with 1 ½ oz. Don Papa Rum, ¾ oz. fresh lime juice,  ½ oz. home made passion fruit syrup, ½ oz. banana liqueur, 1 barspoon of Brauilo, and 2 dashes chocolate bitters
Prisma Boracay’s Maxniel Seruelo and his cocktail Audaz Filipinos made with 1 ½ oz. Don Papa Rum, ½ oz. fresh guava juice, ¾ oz. fresh pineapple juice, 4 pieces pineapple chunks, ¾ oz. coconut water, ¼ oz. lemon juice, ¼ oz. simple syrup, and 5 dashes Angostura Bitters
Oto bar’s Kathrin Osmillo and her cocktail La Fuerza made with  1 ½ oz. Don Papa Rum, 1 oz. kamias juice, ¾ oz. strawberry-cinnamon puree, honey, cinnamon powder, and cinnamon stick for garnish
Shangri-La at the Fort’s representative John Robert Lorenzo (Samba) making his Corazon cocktail made with 45 ml Don Papa Rum, 10 ml orgeat syrup, 7.5 ml grape fruit juice, 5 ml Campari, and 15 ml homemade piña shrub, and 30 ml roasted coconut cream

“I was quite surprised at how innovative the competitors were for this cocktail competition. They truly showed their best foot forward in cocktail innovation and I couldn’t be any prouder that this is the level and quality of bartending we have in the Philippines. Their cocktail recipes were balanced, their story and presentation were astounding, and the use of Don Papa Rum very well thought out,” says Molina. “Don Papa Rum competition is always different in each country but one thing is the same, the level of dedication and ingenuity that comes out of the competitors are always surprising.”

Cocktails from the competition

Other finalists who joined the competitions were Alyssa Mae Lorenzo (5ynco Bar), Clyde Hernandez (Alamat), Dennis Cantong (Mireio Terrace at Raffles/Fairmont), Eric Miro (Downtown and Halsted), Guillermo Natividad III (Spirit Library), John Robert Lorenzo (Samba at Shangri-La at the Fort), Paul Perez (Long Bar at Raffles/Fairmont), Renzo Luna (Dulo), Ruel Sabalza (Lit), and Sam Webster (Hooch).

Photos by Marvin de Guia

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