THE hunt for Jamaica's next master mixologist is officially on as Sandals Resorts International (SRI), El Dorado Rum, and Caribbean Producers Jamaica (CPJ) stage the inaugural El Dorado Rum Cocktail Competition.
The competition is open exclusively to the resort chain's team members across all 11 Jamaican properties and will go through a series of preliminary contests this month to select qualifiers for the grand finalé cocktail mix off at Sandals Montego Bay on May 13.
Contestants are required to use El Dorado White and Gold rums, as well as a minimum of two but no more than six additional ingredients to create dynamic cocktail concoctions.
The entries are then placed before a panel and are judged on categories of appearance, aroma, taste, garnish and originality. Sandals Carlyle and Sandals Montego Bay in St James as well as Sandals Riviera and Beaches Boscobel in St Ann were among the first wave of properties to host the competition to much fanfare from both entrants and resort guests.
Sandals Montego Bay's Andre Bolton, who won his heat with his 'El Dorado Serenity' mix, was very pleased to be given the opportunity to show his creativity.
"It feels good that I was able to take top honours in this competition because I'm sure no one expected someone from the Dining Room department to win a bar mixology competition," he said.
"It goes to show that what matters in the end is knowledge of your product and presentation. Not only was my mix refreshing but it was well complemented by the smoothness of the El Dorado White Rum and my unique heart-shaped pineapple garnishes. I'm very excited for the finalé and hope I come out the victor."
Competition co-ordinator Troy King, from Sandals' Food and Beverage Department, also said that he was very pleased with the response to the competition.
"The feedback from both guests and participants alike has been absolutely fantastic," said King. "We have challenged the team members to dig deep creatively and they have delivered. The guests love it and have been very interactive with our mixers, giving reviews and opinions on the entries. It's going to be hard to select a winner, but only one mixologist has the right stuff to take home the grand prize."
In addition to receiving a limited edition bottle of 15-year-aged El Dorado Rum in the preliminaries, the grand winner will spirit away with a $100,000 cash prize as well as trip to Guyana to tour the El Dorado Distillery.
The official pouring rum at all Sandals and Beaches resorts, the El Dorado line of rums has been consistently recognised as a premium brand. Its parent company, Demerara Distillers Limited, is one of the oldest rum producers, having been in existence for over 300 years.
The El Dorado brand, with its flagship 15-year-old rum, was launched in 1992 and continues to win acclaim and is heralded as one of the finest rums in the world.