Following weeks of Mai Tai’s being made, and served, across the country the top 4 bars gathered in London to battle it out for a trip to St Lucia.
Ever since we announced the launch of the Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai competition the industry has got behind it in a big way. BarLifeUK have often said that the Mai Tai is one of the most consistently poorly made drinks in UK bars, as a result we were excited by the concept of a competition to celebrate a drink, which when well made, is an absolute corker.
The competition invited bars to come up with a twist on the classic recipe using at least two expressions from the Chairman’s Reserve range. These drinks were to be sold in the bars, and at events, all the time being promoted through social media and on-site.
There were some fantastic sounding drinks, and impressive marketing efforts saw points being scored at a huge rate, leaving the picking of the final four a tricky job for the Emporia Brands team. But pick they did, and we were left with the following bars competing for a trip for two of the bar team, to the home of Chairman’s Reserve in St Lucia:
- Alvino’s, Newcastle
- Mahiki, London
- The Bureau, Birmingham
- Trading House, London
The final challenge saw all four finalists being given a bar each at Magic Roundabout, above Old Street tube station, to decorate and serve their twists from. All guests to the venue were given tokens to try each of the serves and a golden token to vote with.
BarLifeUK were of course on hand to try all of the drinks and enjoy an evening out in sunny Shoreditch. As if the free drinks weren’t enough to keep the crowds entertained there was also plenty of food on offer as well as table tennis.
After a short winning streak BarLife were truly schooled by Russell Burgess so with our, Alvino’s, cap in hand we sat down to some serious Mai Tai drinking.
Enough Fun Time To Judge
We started off with The Bureau’s offering which combined Chairman’s Reserve & Chairman’s Spiced with a homemade kaffir lime liqueur to give an asian twist to the serve, a Mai Thai if you like!
Mahiki were always going to up the anti and, alongside a pimped up bar, their serve came in halved coconuts. Also true to form it was plenty boozy with Chairman’s Reserve & Spiced being combined with Chairman’s White and Clement Creole Shrub. Paying homage to the rum’s island home it was called the Lucian Up Your Tie.
The Trading House’s Mai Tai base was Chairman’s Reserve & Spiced but it was a pistachio foam on top that really made it stand out from the crowd. It was a delicious and eye-catching serve that ensured the bar was always busy with people wanting to part with their tokens.
Our final stop was Alvino’s where their twist consisted of Chairman’s Reserve & White with the spice element coming from King’s Ginger. They had also cleverly played into the bartenders hearts with a Fernet Branca float as a finish on the drink. We are not always the biggest fans of Fernet over at BarLifeUK but on this occasion it added a great extra dimension to the serve.
After they had all been tried the discussions about our favourite ensued, we only had one token each to pick a winner and with such a great trip up for grabs we felt the pressure. Luckily there were Mai Tai’s being pumped out from the main bar to help deliberation.
In true BarLifeUK style we disagreed on our winning drink but, as it turned out, one of us got it right. I won’t say which who but his name begins with S and he’s the younger one…
With a mix of consumer and trade voters it was always going to be difficult to guess who would come out on top, there had to be a winner after all a tie wasn’t allowed! It was the team that had made the longest trek who came emerged victorious, with Alvino’s from Newcastle jumping up and down like loons when Matthew Dakers made the announcement.
Congratulations to Alvino’s who will see two members of their bar team heading to St Lucia as part of the prestigious Chairman’s XI programme later this year.
It was a great end to a fantastic competition that we hope will become a regular fixture on the competition scene, and help ensure that we can get well balanced Mai Tai’s wherever we go.
Alvino’s winning Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai recipe
- 25ml Chairman’s Reserve White Label rum
- 25ml Chairman’s Reserve Finest rum
- 15ml King’s Ginger liqueur
- 25ml lime juice
- 10ml pineapple juice
- 10ml orgeat syrup
Add all ingredients to shaker, shake with cubed ice, strain into chilled Collins over crushed ice. Mint sprig & Fernet Branca float garnish.