One of the highest quality cocktail competition finals we’ve seen produces a winner to take on the world in Venezuela.
After over 300 bartenders entered, 5 heats across the country produced 10 finalists who descended on Dabbous to battle it out to earn the title of UK Diplomatico World Tournament Winner. Up for grabs was a trip to Venezuela to represent the UK in the World Final and the chance to win $5,000.
The atmosphere in the bar was full of nervous energy as the final 10 prepared to present their drinks. The finalists, a mix of experienced campaigners and competition newbie’s, were:
Ryan Rhodes, The Tippling House, Aberdeen
Kitty Gardener, Bramble, Edinburgh
Jon Lister, Purl, London
Fraser Barret, London Cocktail Club
Gareth Evans, Pollen Street Social, London
Christian Maspes, American Bar @ The Savoy, London
Samantha Fish, Mojo, Leeds
Massimo Zitti, The Liquorists, Manchester
Alex Proudfoot, Raoul’s Bar, Oxford
Scott Harrison, Raoul’s Bar, Oxford
BarLifeUK had judged all 5 of the heats, consisting of 68 fantastic bartenders and drinks, and we knew just how tough this final was going to be. With that in mind we were very happy to be told we weren’t judging the final, that dubious honour went to a panel of great bartenders representing every facet of the industry.
It became obvious very quickly that everyone had bought their A game. The drinks we knew were of the highest quality and the presentations, aimed at the judging panel of, Jim Wrigley (Trailer Happiness); Ryan Chetiyawardana (Sipstir); Daniel Baernreuther (The Savoy) and Oskar Kinberg (Dabbous), had been well polished.
On top of the intimidating judging panel was a crowd made up of supporters and nosey industry luminaries. Luckily they were kept well lubricated by a series of great Diplomatico cocktails banged out by the boys of The London Bar Consultants.
What followed was two hours of funny, knowledgeable and entertaining presentations. All were excellent but a special mention must go out to Kitty and Scott who were breaking their competition final cherries and absolutely nailed it.
Every drink that was passed back to the crowd was met by with murmurs of appreciation and some worried looks from fellow competitors.
As the judges disappeared to deliberate at the end of the 10thcompetitor we wandered the room to get some thoughts from the crowd and competitors (in between their photo call for a personalised bottle of Diplomatico adorned with their face). The consensus was unanimous, no won had a scooby of an idea who was going to win.
10 competitors and anyone of them was in with a shout. There was one presentation however that seemed to have got the competitors more worried than the rest. In fact one spectator who has seen his fair share of competitions in the past declared it ‘the best competition presentation’ he had ever seen.
Before the grand announcement the judges had a special mention for Kitty who had impressed them with her performance on debut and earned herself a nice bottle of Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva.
When it came time for the winner to be announced it transpired that the judging panel had concurred with the feeling in the room and perhaps the only person who was truly surprised at the winner was the man himself, Jon Lister of Purl (with a bit of artistic help on the labelling from his lovely girlfriend).
In a competition where no-one deserved to lose the right winner had been found and we certainly believe that Jon has a great chance of taking out the World Final in a couple of months time. As we toasted the end of a fantastic comp with a glass of the new Diplomatico Single Barrel thoughts started turning to how to celebrate for the rest of the evening. That however is a story for another time.
A huge thanks goes out to Oskar and the Dabbous bar for being such great hosts, the London Bar Consultants for putting up and keeping up with a room of bartenders and all the competitors and supporters on the day. Also, a massive congratulations must go to the Speciality Brands team and especially Declan and Skippy who have put on a superb competition from first heat to last drink.
We wish Jon the best of luck over in Venezuela and BarLifeUK will be bringing you all the news of the finals and hopefully of a UK win.
Beauty and the Beets – Jon Lister, Purl
- 40ml Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva
- 2.5ml homemade balsamic, which was flash infused in an isi siphon and aged with bourbon flambé cheery wood-chip for 24 hours
- 15ml homemade Meantime Chocolate Porter beetroot reduction, which was made by reducing the porter and adding sugar and a parcel of beetroot that had been prepared sous vide at 50 degrees Celsius
- 2 drops Bob’s Chocolate Bitters
- 1 drop cardamom bitters