Brown-Forman: Cocktail Challenge 2018

Brown-Forman is one of the largest wine and spirit company in America. They own many renowned brands like Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, The GlenDronach, Finlandia, Korbel, Chambord, Gentleman Jack, Old Forester etc. Sneaking in their bucket of spirits, one will get Whiskey, Scotch, Bourbon, Wine, Vodka, Tequila and Liqueur. They are selling their products in 160 countries currently.

Brown-Forman inaugural Cocktail Challenge competition was organised in 2017 which was won by Vikram, who then was working as a bartender at Blue bar, Taj Palace, New Delhi. We recently witnessed the second edition of the prestigious competition. The event allows the participants across India to send their cocktail recipes and the very few lucky enough to get selected and a chance to showcase their talent in front of the panel. This year the event took place at “The Playground, JW Marriott, New Delhi”.

This year, the competition started with 300 applicants, each sending their own signature cocktail recipes. Out of those 300 recipes 100 got short listed and from them 15 got the chance to fight for the ultimate championship. With the tag of the championship to his/her name, winner also get to visit Jack Daniel’s distillery and Woodford Reserve distillery in Nashville and Louisville respectively. (as per the itinerary).

Jury this year for the competition was comprehended by:

  1. Vikram Achanta: Mr. Vikram Achanta is the Co-founder and CEO of Tulleeho. Tulleeho is a drinks website and training & consulting firm for drinks.
  2. Rohan Jhelkie: Mr. Rohan Jhelkie is a beverage trainer for wine and spirits trade in India.
  3. Vineet Udyavar: Mr. Vineet Udyavar is the brand ambassador for Brown-Forman in India, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Now for the challenge, each participant was allowed 2 mins of preparation time to get their ingredients and everything at the right place and then 10mins to prepare their drinks. Each contestant was asked to prepare two cocktails, one they had to prepare was their own signature cocktail which can be made from either Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Gentleman Jack or Woodford Reserve, and the second cocktail which they had to prepare was “Old Fashioned”, using their own recipe and was to be prepared by bourbon only i.e; Woodford Reserve. The whole competition was a sight of most of the contestants using bourbon in their signature cocktails as well, while only one of them used JD Single Barrel for their signature cocktail.

Below is the name of the contestants in the order they were on stage to prepare their drinks for the jury. While preparation, they were to talk as well. Elaborating the last statement, each contestant was supposed to share the story behind their cocktail.

CONTESTANTS Signature cocktailBASE (for their signature cocktails)
DivyaA fort in woodfordWoodford Reserve
YogeshShivlisaeWoodford Reserve
GaneshInside outWoodford Reserve
Rohan MatmariLilac (as in flower, for females)Gentlemen Jack
Abhijeet KotkarRoots and wingsWoodford Reserve
Prajwal Rai (last year’s finalist)Snake charmerWoodford Reserve
Jaydev (wild card entry)The JourneyWoodford Reserve
Dilbar singh RawatPickled nuts russellaWoodford Reserve
EarnestVerchiRossouwGentlemen Jack
Joseph D’SouzaQuintessenceGentlemen Jack
AkashOpportunistJD single barrel
Rohit GauravDusty GlowWoodford Reserve
RakeshMistletoe kissWoodford Reserve
Abhishek ChawlaGolden DreamWoodford Reserve

Out of the 15, there was one who wasn’t present for the challenge as the guy couldn’t reach the competition. After the wrap up of all the present contestants, three of them, chosen by the Jury via lucky draw, were given a chance to get behind the bar and prepare and serve their signature cocktails, which they served to Jury, to serve to the guests too.

With the cocktails being served to the guests, the management got the results for the competition. Instead of top 3, we got top 4, as their was a tie for the third runners up place.


2nd runner upRohan Matmari

2nd runner up: Rohit Gaurav

1st runner up: Akash singh

Winner: Ernest