19 Jan

Carmelina, the next worldwide cocktail?

Whether you are a tourist or local, something unique about Queenstown that makes it special is its strong community of independent businesses and entrepreneurs supporting each other. One of the many things that makes it such a thriving and joyous place to be.
This is only one of the reasons that we are supporting local Queenstown bartender at Rata, Ollie Mason on his quest to achieve worldwide fame for his delicious cocktail ‘Carmelina‘ as part of the Bacardi Legacy Competition. The Bacardi Legacy Competition is a worldwide challenge to find the Bacardi rum cocktail with the greatest potential to establish itself as a ‘classic’ and sit alongside the likes of Mojito, Daiquirí and Cuba Libre, and Ollie might just have found it. 

We have loved serving his Carmelina cocktail at Eichardt’s and so we caught up with Ollie as he embarks on his promotional campaign in the run up to the national final to get a little more insight.

Firstly, tell me a bit about Bacardi Legacy – what makes it so special for bartenders?

So there are countless cocktail competitions now, but what’s different about Legacy is it aims to create drinks that’ll stand the test of time and have a life outside of your bar – long after the competition is over. They’ve got to be simple, and replicable in bars around the world. So you’re limited to 6 ingredients that you can find anywhere, and within that framework you are tasked with creating something new and unusual that people want to order… So it feels bigger than one competition.

So why Carmelina? Talk me through the drink.

Carmelina is the name of a town in Cuba that was home to Japanese immigration there 100 years ago. I was inspired originally by Queenstown’s similarly rich international community where you get to work with people from all over the globe, and specifically for me personally by the Japanese influence I’ve had whilst living here. I’ve been surrounded by Japanese friends and colleagues here that have shaped me as a bartender and a person, and I wanted to create a drink that celebrates this.

Carmelina ties this in with Bacardi’s Cuban heritage, and aims to take you to that town with Cuban flavours of rum lime and coconut, and Japanese flavours of sake, with a pinch of sea salt giving you the taste of sea air that puts you on the coast of Cuba. It’s a celebration of international communities like Queenstown, and Carmelina, hence the campaign title “Drinks without borders”.

Where did your love for creating your own cocktails come from?

Bridging the gap between the creativity of cooking and the social, guest focused aspects of working on the restaurant floor.

Why is Eichardt’s the perfect place for Carmelina to be tasted in its early stages?

This stage of Bacardi Legacy is about spreading the word and getting the drink into the hands of people who appreciate cocktails, so I’m stoked to have it listed in a top venue like Eichardt’s.

What are your goals for Carmelina over the next few years?

The goal is to see the drink being enjoyed in venues like Eichardt’s around the world, long after the comp. To be honest that’s probably always the goal when you’re coming up with drinks, Legacy is just a great platform to make it happen.

Good luck Ollie! If you’d like to support Ollie and Carmelina you can find him here:

Instagram @carmelinacocktail