They say that in life, the only things of which you can be certain are death and taxes.
Whoever came up with that phrase has never been to a tiki competition in Manchester, because sure as shit there will be fire, swearing and some comedy gold.
The fact that the Cocktail Challenge features two bartender-favourite brands in Coco Lopez and El Dorado, and that £1000 is awarded to the best original drink and a Hamilton Beach blender to the best Pina Colada twist, means that competitors go the extra mile when it comes to performance.
This year, bartenders were joined on stage at various moments by a gorilla, a recalcitrant oompa loompa and an alcoholic talk show host. The level of prep in some cases (and level of wing-it skills in others) was to be applauded, and the judges salute those who put time and significant amounts of money into performances which were hilarious but didn’t win.
In the end, Marco Piroli of Lab Bar (London) won the original drink round and a cheque for a bag of sand with a very tasty drink, Super Mario accent and a pizza garnish.
Ami St Claire of Popolo (Newcastle) took the Hamilton Beach blender home, with an awesome Pina Colda twist that tasted great and was served in a Pineapple Potato Head doll.
Congratulations to both, and see you next year.
Marco Piroli – Lab, London
The Bounty Hunter
35ml El Dorado 3YO
15ml White Crème de Cacao
2 Dash Chocolate bitters
1 Dash Angostura
1 Bar spoon Chilly sugar
Shake and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with shaved dark chocolate and half a Bounty bar.