The annual extravaganza that is the Gin Mare Mediterranean Inspirations competition kicked off in Edinburgh with the first name on the plane to Ibiza being decided.
Each year as the sun takes its first tentative steps from out behind the blanket of grey we start the process of 5 heats of the Gin Mare Mediterranean Inspirations competition. These heats, taking place across the country, find the 5 finalists who will be heading over to Ibiza for the UK final.
This year we kicked off in Edinburgh with 13 of the biggest names in the Scottish bar industry heading down to Panda & Sons to get their gin on.
Over the last few years the format for the competition has remained the same, each competitor having to produce a Gin Mare cocktail inspired by the Mediterranean and a twist on the classic Dirty Martini. This year the format changed slightly.
The Mediterranean Inspiration cocktail remained to celebrate the Mediterranean roots of Gin Mare’s botanicals. However the Dirty Martini has been replaced with a twist on another classic gin cocktail, the Red Snapper.
After experiencing the finals in Ibiza on more than one occasion the thought of 5 great Red Snapper recipes on hand in the mornings sounds like a cracking idea.
There are three things that have become guarantees with Scottish competitions. Firstly the bar will be packed full of supporters giving the comp a great atmosphere. Secondly the supporters and competitors will really enjoy the free drinks.
Finally is the superb presentations and serves which have become a hallmark of the competition scene north of the border. Once again this was on show with numerous competitors keeping the judges thoroughly entertained.
Speaking of the judges, the old band was back together with Stuart Ekins from Gin Mare distributor CASK Liquid Marketing and Jenny Rae from BarChick.com joining BarLifeUK.
All 13 competitors had something to rave about however special mentions need to go out to Matt Wakeford from Missoni for two superb serves, the first in a traditional porron and the Red Snapper in a washed out Tomato Ketchup bottle, alongside a ‘flavoured cloud’ in a mayonnaise jar with some haggis balls.
Kaiko Tullock from 99 Hanover Street gave a superb presentation keeping the crowd and judges enthralled despite having the tricky last place to deal with. Home turf boy Mikey Braun as usual had everyone laughing and continues to go from strength to strength with each comp he enters.
Food matching is an element the judges really enjoy in the competition (we are usually hungry) and food matching of the day went to David Mulholland made even more impressive by the fact he’d come over from Belfast that morning!
There were also a few new faces taking part in their first competitions. Everyone remembers how hard the first one is and they all performed exceptionally well.
There had to be a winner and it was, inevitably, the person that nailed all elements of the competition. A great and funny presentation; creative and tasty drinks and a real understanding of the brief. Congratulations to Russell Downie from Tonic who will be representing Scotland over in Ibiza later in the year.
A huge thank you to Iain McPherson and his team at Panda and Sons for hosting us so superbly. To everyone who made the effort to enter, to those who came to support and all 13 competitors for making it such an enjoyable day.
If you want to get involved and get yourself to Ibiza there is still time. Manchester, Bristol and the second London heat are still open for entries here. If you fancy checking out what people are up to and having a Gin & Tonic on Gin Mare head down to Made in the Shade tomorrow (13th May) afternoon for the 1st London heat.
Russell Downie, Tonic, Edinburgh
Mediterranean Inspiration – Pink Basil
60ml Gin Mare
20ml grilled lemon juice
12.5ml Mediterranean grenadine
4 basil leaves
Dry then wet shake. Served straight up with a grilled lemon wheel garnish.
Red Snapper Twist – A Red Rose for Mary
60ml Gin Mare
25ml tomato and rosemary shrub
2ml citric acid
Give glass a Lagavulin rinse. Stirred down and served straight up with a rosemary twig garnish.