Vitas Van de Cauter wins New Grove’s Belgian Tiki competition

Mauritian rum brand New Grove chose Belgium's first and foremost Tikitender Tom Neijens from the Drifter to organise a Tiki cocktail competition at Uncle Babe's Burgerbar in Ghent. The result was great fun with an amazing diversity in drinks! It shows how much you can do with rum. Next to the usual suspects there were also quite a few new faces among the competitors and they did a really great job! Alas, to no avail, because Vitas was on fire (almost literally) and combined a spectaculair drink with a fantastic presentation.

New Grove’s got funk, New Grove’s got soul

The island of Mauritius has produced rum since the 18th century, but the New Grove brand is a relatively young player on the field. Tikitender Tom introduced us to the better part of the New Grove range: the Plantation Rums. It’s a lovely rum, well balanced in sweetness, funkiness and fruitiness. The funkiness comes from the typical Mauritian yeast strain and the relatively long fermentation process. I love the funk, it gives soul to the rum. Next to the rums they also make three liqueurs (honey, vanilla and coffee). And you always fear the worst when you have to try a rum based liqueur, more often than not it practically is a syrup with a hint of herbs. Not in this case! Nicely balanced, not too sweet and good aromas. The vanilla for instance is real and comes from the nearby island of Madagascar. The coffee also is very nice, especially when you have to compare it to Kahlua. New Grove is young and groovy, we’ll be hearing a lot more from this brand soon.


The Tiki competition

The lady and gentlemen from the jury for this lovely event were: Flo Harel and Didier Noel from New Grove, Scotty Schuder from The Dirty Dick, a bar in Paris’ red light district and used to be brothel and our own tikitender Tom Neijens from The Drifter, Ghent.

The jury from left to right: Tom Neijens, Flo Harel, Didier Noel and Scotty Schuder

First up was a new face: Ruben Patoor. Considering the fact that this was his first competition he did very well. He presented a Tiki made of rum, guave and amongst other things a white beer from Ghent.


Ran Van Ongevalle from The Pharmacy, Knokke drew inspiration from his recent trip to South East Asia and made us soup, yes, soup. Based upon Tom Kha Kai, a coconut soup from Thailand. He prepared everything in a mortar which also served as the Tiki mug. He concluded the presentation with a pyrotechnical magic trick, which we failed to capture on photo! Great presentation, good drink!

Bruno Simons from Mixing Tales made us breakfast with coffee liqueur and cream in an atypical tiki cocktail.

Yoerie De Schepper, our youngest candidate from L’Histoire d’O, Ostend gave us a fabulous presentation. We will definitely be seeing this guy again very soon! He puzzled 3/4 of the jury with his explanation as to why he had chosen an aged rum: ” My boss used to tell me that if you want to learn how to ride, you have to do it on an old bike!” Which is an English translation of a Flemish expression that has more to do with popping cherries than it has with riding a bike. His cocktail was named “Revenge of the dodo”.

Frederic Geirnaert from Cafe Theatre, Ghent, presented us an exotic concoction in an elephant’s foot. Another first timer who performed very well.

Vitas Van de Cauter from Uncle Babe’s was on fire and blew everybody away with a fantastic presentation and a fabulous drink. He made a “Mount Murr Punch” named after a volcano on Mauritius. He stated quite clearly that “in Tiki the theory of less is more does not count, in Tiki more is…more”. Also his only reason to name the drink after a volcano was because he wanted to put things on fire and so he did. Loved it!

Sofie Ketels from Sofie’s Living Room, Koksijde told us the story of Paradise Vicky and put her drink in a claw! She caramelised nuts in New Grove rum, yummy! Lovely presentation.

Finally there was Mitchell Martin, another new face with a spectacular drink and a lovely garnish.


Well Vitas won this incredibly fun competition and can spend a week on Mauritius sipping rum! If there’s one thing we remember that is the fact that Tiki cocktails are not just rum and fruit juice and that rum is a very versatile product and fire is fun!


Here’s  some more pictures

Tikitender Tom from The Drifter telling us all about the funk of New Grove






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