As we placed fire extinguishers strategically next to the BarLife stage in preparation for the El Dorado-sponsored Tiki-Off, the venue health and safety staff started to get nervous.
When a giant papier-mâché volcano was brought centre stage, with burning rum slopping over the edges onto the carpet, they started to have mass aneurisms.
And later, when girls in grass skirts were shimmying within inches of flaming tiki heads, the crowd of at least 200 were conga-ing onto the stage, limbo dancing and all division between audience and competitors had vanished, we were within a gnat’s twat of being shut down altogether.
In short, it was everything a Tiki comp should be.
The brief was simple: create a punch using El Dorado 3, 5 or 8YO for the crowd to sample, and the winner would be decided by cheer-off.
Hula Manchester went first, creating a small and rather unimpressive volcano on the bar, designed to lull the audience into a false sense of security.
Mutterings of ‘is that it?’ were quickly silenced as Krakatoa was carried out – a huge volcano mounted on top of a door – and Hula’s punch created in it’s crater. A box of long straws was tipped in and the crowd rushed to singe their eyebrows as they tasted the lava-brew.
Aloha Liverpool went next, and looked like the favourites right off the bat. Telling the story of their bar’s creation, they involved the audience and got them dancing in a cloud of fire.
At this point, the entire exhibition hall had come to a standstill and the tiki-off was the only game in town.
Last up came Manchester’s Keko Moku. One of their boys had been infected with a zombie virus, and his huge distended belly had to be cut open and the Tiki plague removed.
At least, that was the theory. In practice Lyndon Higginson giggled a lot, set fire to some tiki heads and spilled corn syrup blood and lamb’s heart all over the carpet (which had to be cut out and replaced overnight!) in what must be the most stomach-churning competition entry in Tiki history.
Clear Cheer Winner
Competition compere, UK Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell, called out each bar’s name and the audience cheered their appreciation.
While all three generated an amount of noise that will no doubt have the show’s wine exhibitors complaining, Aloha clearly won with a cheer that rattled the windows, and they were crowned Northern Tiki Champions 2011.
BarLifeUK and El Dorado rum would like to thank all the competitors for the hard work that clearly went into their performances, and also the supporters who came along and shouted their heads off.
And last, but by no means least, we’d like to thank Mark, the risk assessment chap for not shutting us down. We hope you enjoyed the bottle of El Dorado 12YO, and we’ll see you next year!