And the winner of this years World Class UK is… Jamie Mac! Whooo! Yay! Huzaar!
Big congrats to Jamie and our thoughts are with him as he does battle out in Delhi against some of the best bartenders in the world and against the Delhi squirts. Bring it home mate!
Jamie and Julian de Feral slogged it out against one another in the final Mix Off at Soho’s Floridita in front of some of the industries biggest and baddest names. Everyone was in predictably high spirits with Zacapa flowing freely among the crowd and with Barrie warming the crowd up with his sparkling Scottish wit and lovely smile (my girlfriends words) we were ready for action.
Up first in the Mix Off we had Jamie with his ‘Chaste’ cocktail – an intriguing mix of Ketel One, Benedictine, Sweet Vermouth, bitters and Lagavulin.
All this simply stirred and strained into smoke filled decanters and served over an ice ball. This was all delivered very coolly with Jamie telling a painfully romantic back story to his drink and perhaps it was this that won it for him on the day.
Julian was up next and presented a pretty unorthodox drink for a competition of this magnitude… A LONG DRINK!!!
Who’d have thought that with a trip to Delhi on the cards you’d risk it by not going for the usual judge pleasing ‘Up’ or Short style drink!?
In the end Julian’s presentation was very cool and simply put producing a delightful Juleport Fizz with Tanqueray, Tawney port, lemon juice, mint, a dash of bourbon and soda. Unfortunately for him Jamie was just stronger on the day.
However… That was just the end result! It was in fact a raucous day of mixology and bartending acumen! The 12 of us all gathered at Floridita early in the morning, well 11am… 11:30 for Julian, were split into groups and sent off to one of 3 venues for 3 separate challenges.
It was squeaky bum time and I was starting to get nervous!
However, luckily I was in a pretty sound group, Jody Montieth, Steve Martin, Lee Hyde and I headed off to Waitrose to start our ‘Supermarket Sweep’ Round which would consist of being given £20 by Dazza (I never thought I’d get money off a scot!) and 10 minutes to get what we needed for our drinks with only Tanq 10 or Ketel One being provided by the organisers.
There were some really cool ideas, Jody went for Tanq 10, Pale Ale, Chablis and Elderflower all in equal proportions. I went for something I felt was a bit out there, going Mediterranean (ish) using Tanq 10, Manzanilla Sherry, Green Pepper and coriander with a splash of white grapefruit juice I created my ‘Capsikarma’ garnished with a touch of lemon and coriander served on chicory…
It’s a shame this wasn’t a speed round because as we got stuck in horrendous traffic we were 45 mins late to Mahiki, TV Mixologist Andy ‘Big Man’ Pearson told us to get a move on – so I did, bashing out my whole presentation in just over 3 minutes!
Up next was the ‘Ritual’ round… this was the round we were all the most apprehensive about as none of us really knew what to expect, so on the drive over we calmed our nerves with a round of Gin Face. We pulled up to Purl in the sweltering heat and unpacked the car… I felt I had a bit of an advantage in this round as I’d gone the extra mile and got myself a full ‘Striding Dandy’ costume! It was awesome!
But after giving my presentation to Ben Booth and last years World Class winner Eric Lorincz, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just nerves making me sweat. Everyone put real effort into their Ritual Serves, I pulled a bottle of Blue Label from a wooden cask full of ‘Highland Fog’ (a maceration of herbs and a home blend of whisky) and served it with wild honeycomb accompanied by me whittling on and reciting Rabbie Burns… très atmospheric!
Lee’s presentation was exceptional! All beautifully presented on a silver tray with stunning glassware, needless to say it prompted a ‘Wow’ from most assembled! And with that we were off! Leaving Tom and Tristan to hack up one of the biggest blocks of ice I have ever seen!
Then finally it was over the chez Difford for the classics round judged by the famous cue ball himself and Justin from Ketel One. This was a really fun round as it goes as it was clear that there were some drinks that none of us wanted to make at all – add considering they were mainly well loved classics!
It was generally accepted that the Planter’s Punch would be a shitty one to get as Zacapa really doesn’t lend itself to that kind of vehicle – Thanks to Jody for taking that bullet.
Also the Singapore Sling proved an unpopular pick – so thanks to Steve for falling on that grenade. I fortunately picked quite kindly… I drew a Margarita and a Rosita, the latter of which I’d never heard of and the only info to be found on it is that Gaz Regan either invented it or found it and put it in one of his books – I don’t think even he knows.
So that was quite a hard drink to research the history on – the margarita a sinch and as I was still riding on going through in the Tequila round my Don Julio knowledge was pretty sound!
And then that was it. It was all done. All that hard work forgotten about over a bottle of Coopers Sparkling and some Zacapa. What a day. What a terrifyingly high standard… I was convinced that one of our group would have taken the title but I guess some pretty spectacular stuff must have been happening elsewhere.
Well I had an awesome day and can’t wait to spend a wicked week out in Mexico with all of the guys – better get prepared for some epic rounds of mezcal face. Cheers to Barrie and all the guys at Diageo for organising such a top comp… It’s really leading the way in how to do a top end competition. See you again for it next year!
Till next time!