Bitter Truth Competition Heat Results

Six bartenders from around the UK book their places in the final

Judging the Bitter Truth heats has been a real pleasure. Because the competition’s rules allowed the use of any base spirit and style of drink, the entries varied wildly from person to person, to the extent that at times, it didn’t really feel like judging a comp.

Paul Minea making his Rosemary Fumée
Paul Minea making his Rosemary Fumée

More like sitting at the bar with some great bartenders and having them make you their current favourite drink.

The rules were very simple – each cocktail must contain something from the Bitter Truth range, and when tasted, the product should be clearly evident. Two bartenders would go through from each heat (Manchester, London, Edinburgh) to the final, with the ultimate winner receiving £500 to spend at Cocktail Kingdom, and the entire Bitter Truth range.

With the rules so open, I wondered if each heat would somehow reflect the trends of the region, with certain types of drink or flavour profile being prevalent in each area.

This turned out not to be the case. Instead, for the most part, the bartenders gravitated towards drinks that suited the style of their home bar – The Tiki guys went Tiki, the hotel guys went hotel-y, and so on. This is interesting in abstract, and will probably lead to some research and an article on the subject.

The standard was very high at each heat, as were the levels of enthusiasm.

Gergo from Trailer Happiness going, unsurprisingly, Tiki.
Gergo from Trailer Happiness going Tiki.

Again, I think this was probably down to the lack of rules and regs – the bartenders were all very invested in the drink they had entered, because it was exactly as they wanted it to be, instead of being slightly compromised to fit in with some brand rules.

In fact the standard was so high, that two of the entries rank as being the best competition drinks I have tasted this year. The other judges thankfully agreed, and both bartenders went through to the final, so I wont mention who they are here, in the interests of unbiased judging tomorrow at the final, for which I am not on the panel.

Huge thanks go to everyone who entered, we appreciate your efforts, especially those who travelled a long way to make it to their heat.

The final takes place at tomorrow (06/09/16) NOLA in Shoreditch. If you happen to be in London, drop in and cheer on your favourite from this list of regional heat winners:

The Finalists

David McLean – Alvino’s, Newcastle
The Green Bullet

50ml Bitter Truth Pink Gin
15ml Wolfschidt Kummel
20ml Celery juice
20ml Lime juice
10ml Orange flower water syrup (2:1 Sugar Syrup with 5ml Bitter Truth Orange flower water per 100ml)
3 Dashes Bitter Truth Tonic Bitters
Served in a large coupe with sprays of sea salt solution and a twist of celery shaving

Sean Cavanagh – Dine, Edinburgh
Truth Serum

40ml Bitter Truth Pink Gin
10ml Yellow Chartreuse
20ml Spiced pineapple and rosemary shrub
2 Dash Bitter Truth Creole Bitters

Add all to tin, shake and double strain. Serve in a bitters bottle.

Matt Truslove – The Kenilworth Boutique Hotel, Warwickshire
The Nosey Neighbour

60ml Mango and vanilla Yogurt fat-washed Haymans Old Tom
10ml S.E.A homemade liqueur
15ml Mango Oleo Saccharum
30ml Club soda
10 Dashes TBT Drops and Dashes Blossom Bitters

Tatjana Titimova – Epernay, Manchester
Trip Home

40ml Haymans Gin
25ml Beetroot syrup
10ml Citric acid
1 Dash Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters

Massimiliano Terrile – Duck & Waffle
The Truth Treasure

50ml Hayman’s Gin
1 b/s Bitter Truth Cucumber Bitters
10ml Elderflower Liquor
15ml Lemon juice
10ml Orgeat
Fresh sugar snaps

Crush the sugar snaps in the glass, poor first the gin and after all the other ingredients, finish whit crushed ice and garnish whith sugar snaps and mixed flowers

Jacob Burnham – The Ox, Cheltenham
Truth Serum

40ml Armand Guy Ponsec Anis
1 Sugar Cube
100ml Bitter Truth Peach Bitters Infused Water
5ml Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters Sherbet

Pour Absinthe into glassware. Balance absinthe spoon across the top and place the sugar cube. Follow by gently pouring the Peach Bitters-infused water over the sugar cube until dissolved. Add cubed ice to glass and sprinkle sherbet into the top of the drink.

Serve alongside homemade chocolate, flavoured with ‘Nut Drops & Dashes’ and filled with Bitter Truth Golden Falurnum Pop Rocks.