Rebel Yell kicked off its second annual Band of Rebels cocktail competition this summer, with bartenders from across the United Kingdom participating in the event. The competition challenges them to create a new generation of bourbon cocktails with a modern rebel spirit — and these risk-takers proved their mixology prowess.
Using Rebel Yell Small Batch Rye, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, or Small Batch Reserve, the mixologists concocted their way into the hearts of all who gathered for each of the first four heats, which took place in London between July 17 and August 1. From these heats, seven bartenders then continued on to the final shake-off at Smith & Wollensky Covent Garden on August 21, judged by a panel led by Rebel Yell master blender John Rempe.
Among the finalists were Artur Staskevich, Thomas Solberg, Jackson Swallow, Chris Tanner (top 3), Steve Law (top 3), Ernest Reid, and Michele Reina, who created the winning concoction. His recipe, a twist on eggnog, was called Deviled Egg and included a duck egg vacuum infused with winter spices and herbs, so that the flavors were fully absorbed through the eggshell; Rebel Yell Bourbon Small Batch Reserve; quinine syrup; and star anise for garnish.
As the reigning 2017 cocktail champion, Reina was treated to a VIP-hosted trip to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in mid-September, where he whipped up his winning drink at the Rebel Yell stand. He also toured the legendary Bourbon Trail and was given an early preview of Rebel Yell’s future home, Lux Row Distillers, which is set to open in spring 2018.
Below is Reina’s winning recipe. For the competition, he threw the cocktail — a rebellious technique with two tins that may require some practice — so we simplified the instructions here.
50 milliliters Rebel Yell Bourbon Small Batch Reserve
1 whole duck egg, spice-infused
25 milliliters quinine syrup
Star of anise, for garnish
Shake ingredients in a cocktail tin. Add ice and stir. Strain into a chilled coupette and garnish with star anise.