One of the biggest cocktail competitions in the world hit the round again earlier this month to find the next round of UK Finalists.
Round 1 of the World Class competition produced some superb cocktails and great presentations from some of the countries best bartenders over 4 heats. The winner of each heat went through to the UK final and Round 2 set about finding the next 4 who would be joining them.
Each series of heats follows a round of forums across the country focusing on certain brands from the Reserve Brands portfolio and a theme for each of these brands. It is these brands and themes that form the basis and inspiration for the signature drinks from each bartender in the heats.
Round 2 concentrated on the following
Vintage Twist with Ketel One – A look at Vintage Cocktails and how the evolution of craft beer can be used in exciting new variations on classics.
Whisky Is…. With Talisker 10yo, Singleton of Dufftown 12yo and Cardhu 12yo – Opening up the Whisky category and highlighting it can be anything you want it to be, encouraging bartenders to explore possibilities.
City Glamour with Don Julio and Grand Marnier – It is all about the world’s most glamorous cities and glamorous cocktails inspired by them.
Once the cocktails had been submitted Diageo representatives toured the country visiting every bartender that had entered in their own bar to sample the drink. From that a shortlist of bartenders was put through to each of the regional heats.
BarLifeUK went on the road with Diageo to judge the various heats and bring you the winning drinks.
With a competition this big and prestigious however simply making your carefully constructed drink was never going to be enough. The bartender’s skills had to be tested and to this end there was also a, bartenders worst nightmare, mystery box round with all sorts of challenging ingredients. The final round was a scenario round, think along the lines of ‘Your bar has just started serving afternoon tea and your boss wants a Tequila or Whisky cocktail to serve with cakes and sandwiches’.
Oh yes, these bartenders were going to earn their spot in the UK final.
The Fantastic Four
It all kicked off with the Oxford Heat which unfortunately, due to the ever reliable UK transport system, BarLifeUK didn’t make. By all accounts the South of England’s best bartender put on a heck of a show and the winner was James Fowler from The Library in Bournemouth with his whisky based The Single Reposal (all winning recipes at the end of the article).
The plush surroundings of Crazy Bear saw the, always hard fought, London heat. Jeoff Robinson from Happiness Forgets took the mystery box round to another level using his ingredients to make a homemade bitters in front of the judges. It was however Benjamin ‘Benji’ Purslow from Zilouf’s who continued his recent competition run with a Talisker based Smoke in a Sobrero.
The Scottish heat took place at Bramble in Edinburgh and it seemed that half of the bartenders in that fair city had come out to support the competitors. It was a tight fought competition with plenty of banter from the other competitors to contend with on top of the challenges themselves. The popular winner was Voodoo Room’s Yan McPherson who bucked the scotch whisky route and went for a Ketel One Brunch Club Cocktail served with a brilliant spoof newspaper.
Manchester hosted the Northern heat and they really impressed in the mystery box round, embracing the weird and wonderful ingredients such as peanut butter, anchovies and Lee & Perrins. A special shout out goes to Susie Wong for her Penny Lane, which was cocktail of the day. It wasn’t quiet enough to beat off the all round performance from Matthew Soares of Cloud 23 with a final round twisted tequila shot taking him over line. His signature cocktail was a Cardhu 12yo inspired Pancha of The Atlantic.
These 4 bartenders joined the previous rounds 4 to battle it out to represent the UK in the finals of World Class. This titanic struggle would take place at 30,000ft over the Atlantic but not before some of the 8 had been knocked out after a preliminary heat at Heathrow Airport.
We will be bringing you all the news from this UK heat on Monday but in the meantime here are the winning drinks to get you inspired for the weekend ahead.
The Single Reposal – James Fowler, Library
- 35ml Singleton of Dufftown 12yo
- 20ml Peurh Toucha tea
- 20ml naval black port
- 2ml white balsamic
- 2 drops decanter bitters
Stir down and top with tonic, garnished with Singleton washed thyme and lemon crisp
Smoke in a Sombrero – Benjamin Purslow, Ziloufs
- 50ml Talisker 10yo
- 10ml Zuidam Honey Whisky liqueur
- 10ml Cocci Torino
- 10ml Chartreuse VEP
- 6 basil leaves
Stir down. Served with 3 crustinis, topped with scormaza, provolone picante and blue goats cheese, mustard piccalilli and a deep fried basil leaf
Brunch Club Cocktail – Yan McPherson, The Voodoo Rooms
- 50ml Ketel One
- 20ml Chamomile tea water
- 2 barspoons Florence Fennel Syrup
- 2 barspoons Stones Ginger Wine
- 2.5ml Genitane de Lure
Stirred. Lemon zest over the top and discarded. Garnished with a newspaper.
Pancha of The Atlantic – Matthew Soares, Cloud 23
- 50ml Cardhu 12yo
- 25ml bay leaf infused honey water (2:1)
- 15ml lemon juice
- dash orange bitters infused with dried bay leaf
Stirred and served over ice in a stemmed glass, on a map connecting Scotland and Madeira. Garnished with a bay leaf.