Bristol’s Agents Of Yesterday hosted a Red vs Blue vs Green vs Yellow Cocktail Competition, it was insane and BarLifeUK just about survived.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bristol cocktail scene it is best described as a dichotomy. They are renowned for creating very delicious stirred down and brown drinks, yet as a group of bartenders they are some of the most outgoing and entertaining in the world.
The Agents Of Yesterday (AOY), in the form of Michael Presely Sharpe and Gareth Aldridge are very much about promoting and embracing the later of these two extremes. So it was an easy decision when John Clay of sponsors Bols asked BarLifeUK if we wanted to head down to judge a comp run by them, we knew it would be a thoroughly entertaining afternoon.
Hosted at Bristol’s newest bar, The Doghouse, the competition saw four teams each representing a different colour with a corresponding Bols brand. Blue – Blue Curacao; Green – Creme de Menthe; Red – Bols Strawberry and Yellow – Creme de Banane.
Joining BarLifeUK on the judging panel were John, the AOY and Maxxium’s Russell Jackson. There were to be 4 rounds, each more ridiculous than the last, and somehow we had to decide, whilst in the heart of a colourful hurricane, which team took out the top prize of a set of blenders.
Within 30 seconds of the first round, challenging the teams to come up with a tasty cocktail using their colour and a unique presentation, it became obvious that this was not in anyway going to be your usual afternoon of cocktail judging.
Team Blue kicked things off, walked behind the bar dressed as the Blue Man Group and proceeded to present their drink in complete silence with the exception of banging on three upturned washing up bowls. It was an inspired presentation that had the large assembled crowd (and judges) in hysterics.
That started what can only be described as the first Pantone-mime Cocktail Competition. There was fancy dress (the AOY adorned in a King and Dictator outfits), a Crocodile doctor hand puppet superbly voiced by the Green teams Mayble Elizabeth Pitt, a nerf gun shoot out, a Blues singalong and a man in mermaid drag.
However it was a giant inflatable banana that stole the show. The Yellow team had a member missing so Emilio Di Salvo and Sam Kershaw replaced Dan with the blowup fruit, the banana took a very active part in proceedings helping to make the team’s Frozen Banana Manhattan and proving all too irresistible for Emilio in a second round challenge that saw him mounting the now lipstick adorned Dan.
Unfortunately the team each had t-shirts containing their names and when Sam, Dan and Mim (Emilio’s nickname) got together for a group shot they inadvertently spelt out Sadam which may explain why someone lent Dan up against a radiator and burst him (or it may have been the fact they had found the answers to the quiz round and cheated mercilessly).
In the end even the cheating and amazing quick draw nerfing wasn’t enough to elevate them to first spot and they were just pipped by the Blue Team consisting of Danny Walker, Greg Williams and Isaac Windsor. The Blue’s presentations throughout were excellent (and slightly disturbing) and were well deserving of their first prize blenders.
However even in an AOY team comp their has to be an overall winner and so the winning team were invited to turn on each other and each create a Bols Yogurt based drink whilst sledging their team mates. Following a scathing attack it was Danny who took out the top spot.
It was quite simply one of the funniest afternoons BarLifeUK has ever spent judging a cocktail competition and big kudos needs to be given to Michael and Gareth who put in a lot of time, effort and money to create a competition designed to raise the profile of Bristol’s fantastic bartenders and give everyone an excuse to get together for a fun afternoon. Also a shoutout to everyone that turned up for embracing the madness and to John and Bols for getting behind the event and inviting us down.
Now if only we could get the image of a cross-dressing mermaid draped on the back bar out of our mindseye we’d be able to sleep again.