Absolut Invite cocktail competition finals in Stockholm

Approximately two weeks ago, 25 of northern Europe's best bartenders battled against each other here in Stockholm to win the prestigious Absolut Invite competition. During two days, all contestants were tested in both individual and collaborative knowledge and sensory challenges - and of course also cocktail creating skills. In my honest opinion, it's one of the most ambitious cocktail competitions around, because you really have to know a lot about spirits, bars, cocktails, authors and lots of other things to win...

Rikard Enell, Stockholm, making
his cocktail "The Instant Reaction"
The first afternoon it was time for Creative Mixing, where all bartenders made their signature cocktail, inspired by some kind of art, and presented it to the celebrity jury - Joaquín Simó (Pouring Ribbons, NYC), Ronald Jones (Konstfack, Stockholm), Nick Strangeway (Strange Hill, London) and Timo Siitonen (A21 Cocktail Lounge, Helsinki).

The next day began with a seminar by Nick Strangeway, and afterwards the remaining challenges - the Absolut Race - took place. All contestants were divided into groups, and each group was handed a map of Stockholm and an envelope with the name and address of a place in the city where a challenge awaited them. I decided to follow one of the groups, and their first destination was Scandic Grand Central and the group knowledge challenge. The other places and challenges were Absolut Atelier (group creativity), Häktet (group sensory), Linje tio (individual knowledge) and Bernie's Bar (individual sensory).

Group sensory challenge at Häktet

After two long and exhausting days, it was time for dinner at Spritmuseum and to reveal the winner of the competition. In the end, it was Patrick Seppä from A21 Cocktail Lounge in Helsinki who won the prestigious title - congratulations! First runner-up was Micke Karlsson (Little Quarter, Stockholm) and second runner-up Monica Berg (Aqua Vitae, Oslo).

As a bonus, here are the recipes for their competition cocktails - enjoy!

Hokusai's Tea by Patrick Seppä (inspired by Japanese art)
30 ml ABSOLUT Wild Tea
20 ml Umeshu Royal honey
10 ml Lemon juice
5 ml Cardamom syrup
2 drops Champagne vinegar
2 dashes Orange bitters
Fresh ginger

Shake all ingredients and strain into a japanese tea cup. Garnish with a lemon zest.

No Punsch Intended by Micke Karlsson (inspired by minimalism and performance art)
50 ml ABSOLUT Elyx
20 ml Pommeau
5 ml Rock candy syrup
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Dissolve the sugar in the spirits, stir with ice and serve on ice. No garnish.

Final Taboo by Monica Berg (inspired by the art of tattoo)
65 ml ABSOLUT Elyx
25 ml Olive oil fat-washed Bianco vermouth
1 dash Spanish bitters

Stir ingredients on ice and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with edible peach, pimento and salt fruit leather. Attach to the glass with an ABSOLUT Elyx copper pellet.

Micke Karlsson, Patrick Seppä and Monica Berg.
Photo © Absolut

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