Irish barman bids for cocktail-maker title in Mexico city
AN IRISH barman whose poitín cocktails are a hit at parties swapped it for tequila in Mexico as he bids to be crowned a world champion with the shaker.
Andy Ferreira (40), is normally gearing up for blackberry-foraging at this time of year to supply his Cask cocktail bar in Cork.
But this week Ireland's leading barman deserted the harvest season for the heat and colour of Latin America during the World Class competition in Mexico City.
He said: "I feel passionate about nature. I feel passionate about using local suppliers and rather than just saying those things we are trying to work that ethos into our drinks and cocktails."
The pub owner has worked in India and Indonesia, the style of drinks-making there influencing his own cosmopolitan creations.
In a nod to the deepening relationship between food and drink, he took up a saucepan as he caramelised fruit into syrup in front of expert judges in Mexico.
The businessman organises pop-up bars at weddings and other events in Ireland as another sideline in his relationship with cocktails.
Among the successful themes he has pursued in the past was recreating the illicit shebeen atmosphere of years gone by with cocktails inspired by poitín.
He started organising small events with his wife in 2009 and his business has grown to the extent that he was crowned Ireland's finest bartender in a heat for this week's global tournament in Mexico.
A typical day at home could involve foraging in the abundant gorse or picking blackberries.
He takes the family picking fruit at nearby Ballymaloe, home of the famed cookery school, as he searches for sustainable ingredients.
He said: "This is a subject really close to my heart."
The bartending expert launched an initiative where customers at Cask will be given bracelets with lemon basil seeds in them, to be planted, to get people involved in the sustainability movement.
Matt Preston, a judge from London at World Class this week, rates food on the Australian version of Masterchef and said there were strong links between cooking and cocktail-making.
He said: "I spent three weeks in Japan this year.
"That sushi chef precision and the balletic ability of a great sushi chef using the knife, forming the rice, brushing on some reduced soy or mustard, how they dab the wasabi on the rice or the mustard on a fish.
"It is very similar to when you are watching a great cocktail waiter in terms of stirring the drink and how he uses all those bar accoutrements.
"There is a kind of a beauty to it that you maybe don't get if you go to the local food joint with their mound of melting cheese on the burger to put in their brioche bun."