Congratulations to Team USA who did an amazing job throughout the week and was crowned in the final event of the 42Below Cocktail World Cup held at The Old Museum Building in Wellington.

Team USA: Todd Thrasher, Mark Stoddard and Sean Hoard.

30 mls (1 oz) 42BELOW vodka
15 mls (½ oz) aritchoke aperitif
45 mls (1 1/2 oz) lime thyme syrup
Liberal dash of apple bitters
Compressed apple thyme balls to garnish

A short footage of the Grand Final here

The FULL footage of the Irish Performance at the Grand Final here

TEAM IRELAND (Max La Rocca, Aaron Wall, Andy Ferreira):
1st place at the “Modern Martini” Challenge
3rd place at the “21st Century Punch” Challenge
4th place at the Grand final

The 42 Below CWC is completely unlike any other competitions.
After a hard week examinating the contestants ability to work individually and as a team, feeling also the pressure of representing a Country, the competition pushes bartenders out of their comfort zone into real-time scenarios.

Pdt’s Owner Jim Meehan mixing libations

Simon Difford Discusses What Makes a Bar..Great

Melbourne Gin Palace’s owner Vernon Chalker and his session on “The Martini”

Breakfast Martinis on the rocks from Team Ireland

EVERY morning briefing at 8.30 then get on the bus, do extreme activities followed by a challenge, when your body is still full of adrenaline; then attend a seminar, go back to the hotel for 15 minutes, just the time for quick a shower and off you go againg with either another challenge or a huge party (and when I say huge, I mean…HUGE)

We got to the Bungy Jumping Bridge straight after we landed from a 36 hours trip, and it was only then, that I started to understand the spirit of the Competition…

For the Mocktail Challenge we had 7 minutes to choose from a variety of ingredients on the banks of Lake Wakatipu and then we where taken to a Shotover Jet and had to prepare the drink while the jet was spinning at 360 degree…amazing.

The 21st Century Punch Challenge had teams putting their own twist on a classic to create a unique punch recipe. Our Punch was called The Bee-delaire Builders’ Punch, BEE referring to the Manuka flavoured vodka we used and ..DELAIRE form Baudelaire the french poet who had a huge addiction to Absinthe, BUILDERS’ was used to pay homage to the Irish construction workers community around the world. The punch was served in a beautiful Absinthe fountain and included also Monin pineapple syrup, muddled celery and Celery Bitters, a very refreshing and balanced concotion.

In every team the bartenders have a different approach to cocktail making so it’s not easy to merge and fit everyones’ skill into one.

We braved the JagAir aerial acrobatics trip over the Remarkables mountain range and then the “ready steady shake” challenge put even more pressure on the teams that had to come out in 7 minutes with a signature cocktail form a box of secret ingredients; this is when the teamwork had to take over, one person preparing the drink, another shaking and one garnishing the cocktail.

The Modern Martini Challenge was the most interesting and we achieved the best score on simplicity, which is one of the defining characteristics of a Martini.
Our appropriately titled ‘Kia Kaha’ (meaning ‘stand strong’ in Maori) included 42BELOW Pure, Lillet Blanc, dashes of Peychaud Bitters and was sprayed with a Feijoa mist.

In typical Irish style, we came up with our winning entry on the bus on the way to the event!

US Bartender of the Year and esteemed judge Jim Meehan said the Irish entry stood out for its simplicity and elegance, “it’s a drink I would be proud to serve in my bar,” said Meehan

– 50 ml 42BELOW Pure
– 20 ml Lillet Blanc
2 Dashes Peychaud Bitters
– 42 Below Feijoa Vodka mist

-“Throw” the mix from one tin to another in order to aerate and chill the drink without diluting too much.
(old technique from Boadas Cocktail Bar in Barcelona)
-Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe
-Garnish with a twist of grapefruit

The venue was just amazing..

Our Signature drink for the Grand Final was called

WILDE HONEY PORTER” and included
1 muddled cardamom pod
25 mls lillet blanc
15 mls creme de cacao
15 mls gomme syrup
15 mls lime juice
2 dashes angostura
35 mls guinness
35 mls 42 Below Manuka Honey
15 mls egg white

more pictures on

One of the most valuable things you learn from a competition like this, is to be able to manage your EGO, that is one of the biggest problem amongst most of the contemporary bartenders, and to act with teamwork in mind..
You go back home enriched as a bartender as well as a person and…with a lot of new friends for life

A million thanks to Alan Kavanagh for the amazing support in Ireland, Jacob Briars, Justin McKenzie, Frances Young and all the people behind this beautiful project!!
Always stir…with a dash of love,
Max La Rocca
42 Below Irish Team