Irish barman up for world cocktail award champions local flavours
Carl d’Alton specialises in cocktails crafted with locally foraged fruit.
An Irish barman who specialises in cocktails crafted with locally foraged Irish fruit and wild flowers is a finalist in one of the world’s most influential cocktail events.
The World Class Global Finals, held this year in Berlin, is one of the most influential events in the industry and Carl d’Alton is hoping to beat the 56 other finalists to the top spot by using all he has learned working in Cask, Co Cork.
Carl, who is normally gearing up for blackberry foraging at this time of year, has put plans on hold to head to the German capital following in the footsteps of his boss Andy Ferreira, last year’s World Class Global Final winner.
He said: “After working in bars for a while, I found I had a bit of flair for flavour. After my first cocktail competition win I got hooked on the buzz and I’ve been pushing myself to enter more.
“I got really into the different expressions of spirits and trying to do something new every time.
“Andy, last year’s World Class winner, opened Cask using seasonal flavours in his cocktails and asked me to come in and have a look at the bar and I loved it, loved the vision of it.
“It’s been a roller-coaster ever since, we’ve won every award we could in Ireland, accomplished a lot of what we wanted to do by just using Irish ingredients.
“We challenge ourselves to find an Irish equivalent of an exotic flavor – instead of Madagascan vanilla, we use woodruff which grows wild and if you dehydrate it and make a tea, it’s a beautiful grassy flavour.
“It’s seasonal and our climate is harsh at times so we change our menu every 12 weeks. For instance, instead of using pineapple we use something called pineapple weed which grows locally everywhere in Ireland.
“The challenges we deal with will stand to me in Berlin, we push ourselves every day to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.”
The industry forecasts that 2019 will see an increase in brands and bartenders including low or no-abv spirits and cocktails on their menus as the global trend towards health and well-being continues to flourish.
The environmental health of our planet also means that a growing number of bars and bartenders are crafting more mindful drinks with the issue in mind.
“Sustainability is huge at the moment, in everything, not just drinks – that will play a key role in the industry,” Mr d’Alton added.
“People are a lot more mindful, using substitutes for sugar for instance, and a lot more concept drinks, picking a concept like exclusively using local ingredients, that’s going to be very prominent this year.
“We recently undertook a community project due to the issue surrounding decreased levels of bee pollination around the world, so we sewed wildflower seeds around our area to try and help, I’m creating a drink in my bar highlighting the issue of bee pollination, while still serving beautiful drink.
“People care about what they’re drinking, drinking better quality spirits or with the environment in mind, which is what World Class has highlighted too, high quality spirits in well-made drinks.
“I’d like to see more of that, people being more conscious of what they’re drinking.
“Not (to) be afraid of these weird and wonderful flavours that we have.”