A bartender from the Ukraine wins the Riga Black Balsam Global Cocktail Challenge 2016

The title of ‘Master of Riga Black Balsam Cocktails’ and a EUR 3000 prize from the international bartending competition ‘Riga Black Balsam Global Cocktail Challenge 2016’ was won by Stanislav Mukhin, a bartender from the Ukraine. His cocktail, Formula 17/52, is named for the year that the Riga Black Balsam recipe was created. The winner says:

“I am very honoured to win with my cocktail recipe featuring Riga Black Balsam bitter. I developed the recipe over 2 months, and I also created a special presentation glass that incorporates the natural herbs and spices in its design. I was inspired by the history of this unique drink and I am glad it has been so highly evaluated! ”.

The other five places of the final "Six" were won by the following bartenders:

2nd place - Wojciech Urbanki from Poland with Black Balsa- miko;

3rd place – Estonian bartender Hirja Niit with the cocktail IEVA;

4h place - Georg Cedrick Thomas from Austria with the cocktail The 6th Sense;

5th place – Lucia Montanelli from the United Kingdom with her Purple Velvet;

6th – Marija Vinogradova from Latvia with the cocktail Black Secret.

6 the best

Wojciech Urbanski   Poland 2nd place

The Riga Black Balsam Global Cocktail Challenge 2016 took place in Riga on 24th November, and was organized by the Amber Beverage Group, in cooperation with the Latvian Bartenders Federation. A total of 49 bartenders from 19 countries participated in the competition, sharing a EUR 4800 prize fund.

The performance of the contestants was evaluated by a panel of international judges, judging the quality of the cocktails, originality of presentation, and taste. The judges represented at the tasting panel of The Riga Black Balsam Global Cocktail Challenge 2016 were:

  • Ron Busman, President of the International Bartenders Association;
  • Mario Hofferer, champion of the IBA Cocktail World 2011 and distinguished molecular mixologist;
  • Raimonds Tomsons, one of the world’s leading sommeliers;
  • Valters Kaže, Chief Marketing Officer of Amber Beverage Group.

Comments of Tasting Jury members:

Valters Kaže, CMO Amber Beverage Group:

“I was impressed by the high level of presentation and the wide variety of very interesting and different cocktail recipes, all featuring Riga Black line beverages. The bartenders expressed their creativity and we could feel the regional influence in the many different styles and flavour combinations. I hope we can keep the same high level of performance in future Riga Black Balsam Cocktail Challenges!”.

Raitis Akerblums, Chaiman of Latvian Bartenders Federation :

“This is the second year that we have organized this world level bartenders’ competition in Riga, Latvia and we are very pleased with the huge interest from participants. We were honoured to have six world level champions among our 49 contestants, and the number of countries represented by the participants is growing every year”.

Jury member and Cocktail World Champion 2011, triple national champion, double time national Legacy winner & grand finalist in the world finals Mario Hofferer:

“Almost 50 different cocktails from 20 countries prove the still unrevealed possibilities and the huge potential of Riga Black. I was surprised by the high level of cocktail presentations, different styles and versatility of tastes - fruity drinks, classy old style, Black Balsam with beer - it is really interesting to see what you can do with this brand. This competition was presenting creative cocktails by “top hands” from Europe, and even from as far away as Singapore in SE Asia”.

President of the International Bartenders Association Ron Busman:

“My criteria for the perfect cocktail are harmony in taste. Riga Black Balsam is a complex beverage with a versatile taste that makes the task for bartenders even more difficult. So the challenge was to find the harmony among the ingredients when mixing them. I had my favourites among the finalists so, in my opinion, it means that they have found this ideal formula! I would also like to compliment the excellent organization, and the very positive atmosphere in this international event organized in Riga.

Riga Black Balsam today is a well-established premium international bitter, sold across more than 30 global markets and constantly increasing its fan base. The brand is an associate member of the International Bartenders Association (IBA) and a featured drink of the World Cocktails Championship (WCC) finals. More: www.rigablack.com

In October 2016, Riga Black Balsam was chosen as the base spirit in the original recipe by the winner of Bartender’s Choice category at the IBA World Cocktail Championship 2016 in Tokyo.

For additional information:

Dana Hasana

Head of communications for AS ‘Latvijas balzams” and ‘Amber Beverage Group’