CORTE VETUSTO MEZCAL Announces the winner of the ‘Cut Above Challenge’

Corte Vetustomulti award winning mezcals announces the winner of the CUT ABOVE CHALLENGE, a nationwide cocktail competition tasking bartenders to create a drink that’s ‘a cut above’. Inspired by the mantra of master mezcalero, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Diaz, of creating a cut of mezcal so divine it invokes the spirit of previous generations aka el Corte Vetustoor Ancient Cut.

The winner is Brendan Soprano (pictured), of Abbey Road Bar in Liverpool with his Quiote cocktail:

  • 60ml Corte Vetutso Tobala
  • 15ml 5 Puttonyos Aszu Tokaj
  • 5ml Grapefruit oleo
  • Expressed Grapefruit oil
  • Celery mist

Brendan sums up what it means to win:

Having always been a major fan of agave spirits but especially whilst working at El Bandito, in Liverpool, seeing the Cut Above challenge posted online, I knew had to have a crack. Tobala is my favourite varietal, so much so I named my dog after it. I knew in my head I could build a drink around the base liquid without detracting from the characteristics that make it so special. 

With the current situation in the hospitality scene I had a lot time on my hands, this was due to the day we launched Abbey Road Bar and Kitchen the government ordered closures, but it’s given us time to develop a new site below, Dwntwn, which is going to be more cocktail focused. This however afforded my full attention on the drink. Turning what is currently a negative situation into a positive one, It’s also reignited a passion in me to put aside time to read again and get back into the genre once more.”


Second place was then awarded toMaxim Schulteof The American Bar at The Savoy, London for his Humble Hero cocktail:

  • 45ml Corte Vetusto Espadin
  • 20ml Kingston Black Apple Aperitif
  • 20ml Spiced Buckwheat Cordial
  • 3 drops Orange Bitters

Runners up included:

  • George Cook, (ex-Dinner by Heston Blumental)
    • Cocktail – The Ancient Cup
  • Horace Buckenham, The Florist Bristol
    •  Cocktail:The Prime Cut
  • Kat Stanley-White, Uno Mas, Edinburgh
    •  Cocktail: Patrimonio


Owner of Corte Vetusto Mezcal David Shepherd shares his thoughts on the challenge:

‘As a small, independent brand, we can empathise completely with how the UK bartending community is feeling over this extraordinarily challenging time. We came up with the Cut Above Challenge as a way of lending some much needed support in a way that was authentic to us. The idea was to harness the skill and creativity of the community and, in turn, offer support to existing advocates of the brand as well as introduce Corte Vetusto to the growing number of mezcal-loving bartenders across the U.K. I’m truly humbled by the impressive calibre of submissions and grateful to my fellow judges for their invaluable input. Great care was taken in the creation of the drinks, showcasing our award-winning mezcals and justifying why they felt their entries were ‘a cut above’ – we just wish we could have tasted them!’


Corte Vestustois a trio of exceptional, mesquite smoked mezcals from Oaxaca, Mexico. Since launching in 2017 the brand has picked up over 6 top medals and 1 trophy, the recent gold and double gold accolades catapulting it to being the world’s most highly awarded mezcalwhilst still being independently owned and run single-handedly by owner, David Shepherd.



  • 1st prize: £250 and the Corte Vetusto portfolio (3 bottles)
  • 2nd prize: £100 and 1 bottle of Corte Vetusto mezcal
  • 3rd, 4thand 5thprizes: £50 and 1 bottle of Corte Vetusto Espadin
  • Entries were judged by David Shepherd and Eduardo Gomez, director of Tequila & Mezcal Fest, and Josh Linfitt from Propping Up the Bar (ex-Worship Street Whistling Shop)
  • The top 5 winners will be invited to shake up their cocktails in person in the Autumn 2020 for a professional styled lifestyle shoot which will be shared across the brand’s globally reaching digital platforms.

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