The Babička UK Finals had it all – flames, explosions, theatre, dress up, great drinks and a grandmother handing out shots.
When we announced the launch of the Babička Cocktail Competition we weren’t sure what we were going to get. You see Babička is a very unique product, it is a wormwood flavoured vodka, two categories that can divide bartenders.
What we got was one of the most entertaining competitions BarLifeUK has ever judged with some superb drinks to boot.
The competition received such a high level of response that the heats had to be held over two days at Paul Daly’s new bar Rattlesnake on Upper Street in Islington, London. During those two days close to 40 bartenders (chosen from the many more who entered) gave the judging panel consisting of Babička founder Alex Clarke, Babička UK representatives Justin Shore and Claudia Leigh, Czech bartending royalty Zdenek Kastanek, UK bartending legend Jake Burger and BarLifeUK, a hell of a show.
Each bartender was asked to create a cocktail using at least 30ml of Babička, that was the only stipulation and as such we got some amazing creations. Up for grabs was a trip to Prague for the winner of each day’s competition.
I will come to the winners shortly but before I do some shout outs need to go out for people who really excelled in many different ways.
First up on the first day in his first competition was Adam Carr from SushiSamba, during his presentation the piece of equipment he was using exploded covering the bar in his (now flaming) cocktail, not only did Adam stay around to the end to cheer everyone else on but he re-entered at the end with a twist on his original drink. Massive respect.
In a competition with points for comedy banter Kyle Wilkinson from Pollen Street Social showed how it was done having the judges in stitches whilst still getting in massive amounts of product knowledge. It was a real lesson in how to keep the judges entertained whilst still getting maximum product knowledge points. Unfortunately I can’t share with you the joke he told in case my mum reads this.
Matteo Cazzaniga from Skylon donned a full Witches outfit complete with rubber nose, hat and even a smoking cauldron to produce his drink from. However Rusty Cerven from The Connaught Bar managed to out smoke him with a teapot which produced so much smoke I could barely make out Zdenek sat next to me.
Debora Cicero representing Montgomery Place claimed Zdenek’s heart when she handed him a personalised scroll contain a poem to him in his mother tongue. Now some may call that bribery others may say I am jealous because I didn’t get one…. I guess we’ll never know!
However it was Mate Csatlos of China Tang fame who stole the show. After hypnotising 5 people drawn ‘randomly’ from the crowd he called on the spirit of his Grandmother (Babička in English), who appeared to hand out shots of Babička to all and sundry and generally cause mischief behind the bar. It was one of the funniest and most bizarre competition presentations I have ever seen.
As you can see from that little snippet this was one hell of a comp and the standard across the board was so high that Alex ended up having to take 4 bartenders to Prague instead of the planned 2.
So on that note congratulations go to the winners – Luca Missaglia, Quo Vadis; Matt Sloper, Little House; Debora Cicero, Montgomery Place and Pie Panah, Little House. The winning recipes are below.
BarLifeUK would like to thank all the competitors, the staff at Rattlesnake and of course the Babicka crew for great couple of days. I look forward to telling you all about the Prague trip.
Luca Missaglia, Quo Vadis
- 50ml Babička
- 20ml lemon juice
- 10ml grapefruit juice
- 20ml dry sherry (Manzanilla)
- 3 barspoons caster sugar
- 3 dashes orange bitters
Garnished with lemon zest aroma & maraschino cherry
Matt Sloper, Little House
- 30ml Babička
- 25ml lemon juice
- 25ml Lillet Blanc
- 25ml Cointreau
- 1 barspoon chamomile smoke infused Clandestine Absinthe
- 3 drops Abbots Bitters
Served in a coupe with wormwood flower garnish
Debora Cicero, Montgomery Place
- 35 ml Babička
- 15 ml Montgomery Place dry vermouth
- 10 ml lemon Juice
- Dash of sugar
- Top with Bohemia Sect
On the side a crystal pipette with pure Babička!
Pie Panah, Little House
- 35ml Babička
- 15ml Clos Dady 2009 Sauternes
- 15ml orange peel infused sugar syrup
- 5 dashes Dandelion and Burdock Bitters
- Kummel wash
Served with dark chocolate