Beesou Spring In Bloom Competition Grand Final Results

The Beesou Spring In Bloom competition reaches a suitably top-class conclusion at its grand final

It is often said that a person will become more grumpy and conservative as they get older, but to be honest, I have found the opposite to be true.

Petronella Kiss

Every year I find one aspect of judging cocktail competitions to be more unsettling, and that aspect is delivering regional heat results to a crowd of bartenders who have all put their heart and soul into the drinks they presented moments before.

I felt this keenly during the five Beesou ‘Spring In Bloom’ heats (Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, London x2), because the standard at each was incredibly high, and I’m not just talking about good drinks supported by good chat, I’m talking about the effort and time that had clearly gone into all of the entries.

During the regional phase, several bartenders traveled for hours on buses and trains to reach their closest heat, often leaving their homes at an ungodly hour. There were struggles with childcare, hours spent foraging ingredients and preparing sustainable garnishes, and numerous public transport fails to overcome. One bartender even turned up with their leg in a cast.

While I understand that bartenders enter competitions knowing there is a chance they wont win, that is the essence of a competition after all, I just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who entered for the time and effort they put into the process, I appreciate it and I know the team at Beesou do, too. Cheers to the lot of you.

Laurie Howells

Now, all of that said, the regional heats produced a field of eleven finalists (see below), who converged last week at the Amano Hotel rooftop bar in Covent Garden for the competition’s grand final. Each competitor presented their drink, this time to a new judging panel who introduced a fresh set of eyes and taste buds to the cocktails. I observed proceedings through my camera viewfinder, and can report that the standard at the final was even higher than that of the regional heats – presumably because the bartenders had worked out any kinks in their presentations, having run through them once already in front of a panel.

I am glad I was not responsible for arriving at or delivering the final verdict, because everyone nailed their presentation and every drink I tasted was an absolute smash. By every metric I can think of, Beesou Spring In Bloom produced some of the best entries I’ve seen at a competition in a long time – both during its heats and at the final. Considering this was Beesou’s first year on the competition circuit, they have come out of the blocks very strong.

Joshua Chapman (L) and Mark Wakefield

Once the competitors had done their thing behind the stick, everyone piled outside onto Amano’s beautiful roof terrace for drinks while the judges conferred. Eventually Beesou co-founder Mark Wakefield emerged with the customary over-sized cheque to deliver the results, and three bartenders learned they would each be walking away with a share of the £1800 prize pot.

Huge congratulations to the winners, and to everyone who made it to the Beesou Spring In Bloom final, which was both fun and a top-class demonstration of the talent currently slinging drinks in the UK’s bars. I hope Beesou run the comp again next year, because this year’s debut was a huge success.

The Winners

First Place: Joshua Chapman, Lab 22, Cardiff

  • 30ml Beesou Honey Aperitif
  • 30ml Seasonal Rhubarb & Citrus Cordial
  • 15ml Dry Vermouth
  • 100ml Vanilla Cider Punch

Method: Measure and pour all ingredients into a shaking tin, shake for 6 seconds and fine strain into a Collins glass with spear ice, top with vanilla cider punch and garnish.
Serve: Chilled collins glass with spear ice and garnished with Honey & Cider Curd Tuile.

Second Place: Alistair Bell, Apiary, Brighton

  • 50ml Beesou
  • 30ml Bee Pollen & Saffron Liqueur
  • 3 dash Sarsaparilla Bitters

Method: Stir, strain, Tulip Glass.
Garnish: Saffron Honey Paint

Third Place: Miley Anekin Kendrick, Tiki Hideaway, Leeds
Don’t Beesou Serious, Honey

  • 35ml Beesou
  • 25ml Jasmine infused Gin
  • 25ml Sake
  • Barspoon Strawberry Syrup
  • 5 Drops of Saline

Method: Stir over ice and strain into a frozen Nik n Nora.
Garnish: Lemon zest circle, sip, enjoy, rinse, repeat, drink again and again and again. Most importantly, Don’t Beesou Serious, Honey!

The Finalists

  • Joshua Chapman
  • Maddison Blackwell
  • Alistair Bell
  • Laurie Howells
  • Sam Kershaw
  • Daniele Mondelli
  • Jan Duracka
  • Christopher Naylor
  • Miley Anekin Kendrick
  • Petronella Kiss
  • Ross Campbell