Ice cold contenders in Ron Abuelo cocktail competition

Bartenders from some of the UK’s top cocktail venues have mastered the art of ice shaving for a competition to create a new cocktail with Ron Abuelo rum.

UK distributor Hi-Spirits invited the best mixologists from venues stocking the Ron Abuelo range to make a cocktail which not only highlighted the versatility of the Panamanian rum, but also made use of the raspao, the traditional Panamanian ice plane which give its name to the Raspao culinary style.

Nine finalists gathered at the Proud Archivist bar in Shoreditch to make their cocktails for a panel of judges who included Peter Holland from the Floating Rum Shack, Charlie Graham from Hi-Spirits and Paul Graham.

The contestants had to create a drink with ice shaved using the raspao, as well as reflecting the history and nature of Ron Abuelo and Panama. They were marked on a series of criteria which included flair and product knowledge, as well use of Ron Abuelo and their raspao technique.

After a close fought competition, the eventual winner was Hedi Berkaoui of All Star Lanes with his cocktail, the Bam Bam. Second place went to Jonny Gausinet of The Bon Vivant in Edinburgh; while Ciaran Russell from The Tippling House, Aberdeen was placed third.

Charlie Graham, chair of judges, said: “It was a very tough to pick a winner, with a very high standard from all the competitors and only a handful of points separating the top three. It takes real skill to use the raspao effectively, as those of us who tried it out on the day discovered.

“Hedi won with a cocktail which not only demonstrated his abilities as a mixologist, but also made excellent use of the raspao technique. His cocktail had a very authentic feel which helped us with the difficult job of selecting a winner.”

Hedi Berkaoui said: “I enjoy working with Ron Abuelo as a cocktail spirit, but learning the technique of ice-planing has added a whole new dimension. It was an interesting challenge, and I’m delighted to have won.”

Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, said: “Dark and spiced rums are increasingly popular with both consumers and bar professionals. Although we don’t always get the same weather as Panama, the opportunity to serve Ron Abuelo cocktails with shaved ice is an opportunity for bars to add value to the customer experience, and we hope the raspao will become an essential bar tool for the contestants.”

Ron Abuelo is produced by Varela-Hermanos, a third-generation Panamanian family distillery. The distillery is one of the very few in the world which grows its own sugar cane, giving complete quality control over the spirit. The result is an authentic dark rum, carefully aged in oak casks, and made with a combination of pure sugar cane and molasses.

For more information, please contact Hi-Spirits on 01932 252 100,,


For press information please contact John Porter at ShielPorter Communications 07734 054389