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Food & drink

Hennessy Connoisseurs Challenge winners announced

 Michael Young from the Vault in Banbridge
Digital Staff

THREE bartenders from Belfast and Banbridge have been named this year's Hennessy Connoisseurs Challenge winners.

Michael Young from The Vault in Banbridge, Emer Kennedy from APOC in Belfast and Mark McConville from House of Zen in Belfast impressed the judges with their signature Hennessy cocktails.

Nine finalists went head to head in a live final. watched by a judging panel which included Vincent Borjon-Prive from Hennessy, Roisin Stimpson from London’s award-winning Nightjar and Oriole Bars, Aaron Wall from London Cocktail Club and Northern Ireland restaurant critic Joris Minne.

The finalists were assessed on their bartending knowledge, skill and flair.

Despite having a broken arm, Michael Young made a winning Bisou Francais cocktail.

Emer Kennedy moved judges with her creation, called The Grandfather and inspired by her own grandfather, while Mark McConville's cocktail was The Road to Rhône.

 Emer Kennedy from APOC in Belfast

All three were first-time entrants to the competition.

Judge Aaron Wall from the London Cocktail Club said the panel had been impressed the standard of finalists.

"It was a privilege to watch these nine incredible bartenders in action and each and every one should be proud of the role they are playing in putting Northern Ireland on the map as a place that can compete with top cocktail destinations around the world."

The winners' prize involves one-on-one training in Cognac at Maison Hennessy and Chateau Bagnolet.

The other finalists were:

  • Arminas Dambrauskas, Deanes Restaurant, Belfast
  • Jefferson Minglanilla, Cyprus Avenue, Belfast
  • Joshua Black, Courthouse Bar, Lurgan
  • Nathan Evans, Mary’s Bar, Magherafelt
  • Ryan O’Kane, The National Grande Café, Belfast
  • Stephen Downie, The Merchant Hotel, Belfast

 Mark McConville from House of Zen


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