Louis Royer “Force 53” High Proof Cognac Competition concludes
By Francine Cohen

Many entered, but only three stood victorious when the judges had finished their tastings and tallies. Tim Cooper of Gold Bar, Franky Marshall of The Tippler and Monkey Bar, and Lynnette Marrero of Astor Room took the top first, second and third prizes respectively. Interestingly, they were all from New York City.

Is it something in the water that made these three New Yorkers the top winners of the Louis Royer “Show Me The Force!” competition? Well, it works for bagels, so why not cocktail creators?

It could have been the fact that they all used sherry as one of the five ingredients allowed in the recipe featuring Louis Royer high proof cognac and showed off seasonal inspiration. But then again a number of other contestants also included sherry, so that may not be the answer.

The truth is it’s the force of high proof cognac that makes a cocktail extra special; that’s what brought these three their victory. Cooper comments, “I entered because I genuinely like cognac and think its one of the more underappreciated spirits in terms of cocktail use. Hence, if I won, I’d like to think I could help bring some attention to the category.”

The category was already a favorite with Marshall, but in entering this competition her appreciation grew as she explains, “I really do love cognac! I like to drink it and mix with it – often at the same time. Secondly, when I tasted The Force and started experimenting, I was very excited with the results. This cognac has an elegance that one might not expect at 53% ABV.”

She continues, “This competition was about showing The Force’s seasonal versatility, and I chose fall tumbling into winter. The wonderful long finish of this cognac inspired me to create a cocktail that one could linger over and curl up with on chilly winter nights.”

A thrilling chill of may have run down Marrero’s spine when she first heard of this competition because she knew that win or lose, the presence of this product on the market meant much more than the prize money and a trip to France that was at stake. She says, “I entered because it was a very exciting competition. The product is a great response to bartender’s requests, and the judges were the best in the biz.”

Those judges were notable (Dale DeGroff, Paul Pacult, Steve Olson, Jack Robertiello, Carrie Keagan, and Louis Royer Cognac’s Master Selector, Jérôme Royer), as were the prizes in this competition that showcased the unique seasonal mixing possibilities of Louis Royer “Force 53” VSOP (Cooper won a one-week, all expense paid educational trip for two to visit Louis Royer Cognac’s cellars in Jarnac and experience the 16th Fête du Cognac Festival, as well as two nights in Paris, while the ladies were each rewarded with cash.) Royer says,
“We asked bartenders and mixologists across the U.S. to ‘show us the proof’ and indeed they did. Through this competition, they proved that high proof spirits like Louis Royer ‘Force 53’ VSOP Cognac can be a bartender’s best friend by providing an unshakable flavor backbone for their Cognac cocktails. We thank all of the pros who submitted their recipes and we take our hats off to the finalists and these exceptional winners.”

Everyone wins when there are great judges, great product, and great prizes. But best of all is the door that just got pushed further open for the relevancy of high proof cognac behind the bar. Marrero concludes, “The cocktail revolution loves cognac; it is versatile and with it you can introduce people to aged spirts.”

Grand Prize: Tim Cooper of Gold Bar, NYC
• Seasonal Inspiration – Summer into Fall
• Bouquet

1 1/2 oz. Louis Royer “Force 53” VSOP Cognac
1 oz. Lustau Oloroso Sherry
1/2 oz. Velvet Falernum
1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
Barspoon of Grade “B” Maple Syrup
Place all ingredients in a mixing glass and shake with ice. Strain into a double rocks glass over a large piece of ice.
• Glassware: Double Rocks
• Garnish: Pear “fan” (3 thin slices of pear)

Second Place: Franky Marshall of The Tippler and Monkey Bar, NYC
• Seasonal Inspiration – Winter
• 53 Souvenirs

1 1/2 oz. Louis Royer “Force 53” VSOP Cognac
1/2 oz. Lustau Pedro Ximénez Sherry
4 drops “A l’Olivier’” Walnut Oil
2 dashes Miracle Mile Chocolate Chili Bitters
1 dash of Angostura Bitters
Add all ingredients to mixing glass. Stir to integrate. Add ice, and stir again until proper dilution is reached. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass over 1 large cube of ice.
• Glassware: Old Fashioned
• Garnish: A lemon twist is an optional garnish, left to the discretion of the imbiber

Third Place: Lynnette Marrero of Astor Room, NYC
• Seasonal Inspiration – Fall
• Ma Cherie Amour

1 3/4 oz. Louis Royer “Force 53” VSOP Cognac
1/2 oz. “Marques de Rodil” Especial Palo Cortado Sherry
3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
1/2 oz. Cherry Jam
2 dashes of Pimento Bitters
Place all ingredients in a shaker with 3 Kold-Draft ice cubes. Shake and strain over crushed ice
• Glassware: Rocks
• Garnish: Orange twist and cherry