Crystal Head Vodka Cocktail Competition Results

Want to get bartenders excited? Tell them they can enter a competition to win hospitality tickets to a Rolling Stones gig and Dan Aykroyd will be judging.

When Crystal Head announced the competition a few weeks ago we had to be involved. Dan Aykroyd is a hero and as the owner of Crystal Head Vodka he was going to be joining the judging panel for the competition.

Dan enjoying Susie’s drink

In 3 years of running BarLifeUK this was the closest Andy and I have come to falling out. Only one of us could sit next to Dan and judge the competition. In the end Andy’s ninja like Rock, Paper, Scissors skills won out the day and the honour was all his – twat.

Joining Dan and Andy on the judging panel was Shannon from BarChick and Jake Burger who had dug out an old Ghostbusters single for Dan to sign.

The competition itself was to celebrate the fact that Crystal Head has become the official vodka of the Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary Celebrations. To commemorate this, the competitors were asked to design their competition cocktail around a famous Rolling Stones song.

Hold On, I’m Coming

Dan was running on Rock Star timing but as we waited plenty of cocktails and bottles of Crystal Head were passed around the room. Once he arrived the atmosphere in the room reached ignition levels, the competitors clenched in such unison that the air in the room actually felt thinner.

‘Set’ on Fire

After a speech by the Soul Man on Crystal Head, focusing on its purity and lack of glycol (an ingredient for engine anti-freeze), citrus oil (used in its raw form as an insect exterminant) and raw sugar, which he feels makes it perfect for bartenders to get creative with, we were off.

Over the next couple of hours the crowd of spectators were entertained to whole new levels by the bartenders who really came to put on a show. If Dan hadn’t been introducing each competitor there would have been a real chance we would have forgotten he was even there. The drinks and the presentations were definitely the stars of this show.

Dominic Whisson from Match Bar pulled out one of the biggest serving vessels ever seen at a comp, a hollowed out TV! Each judge was handed 3D glasses which were quickly used as protective goggles as Dominic climbed onto the bar to pour flaming rum all over the TV below (and the judges as it turned out!).

Dan gets Double Barreled

Double Barrel Dan from Trailer Happiness was never going to give a quiet presentation. He decided that as Dan was going to miss the Rolling Stones at Glastonbury this year he would bring Glastonbury to him. Cue a drink served on Astroturf, garnished with ponchos, sunglasses and fire (a typical Glastonbury right?). To complete the experience the judges took it turns to have a drink of the cocktail from a Crystal Head bottle wearing their poncho’s whilst Double Barrel pointed an industrial fan at them and threw jumping jacks. Suddenly being a judge was getting dangerous.

Oh and let’s not forget one of the ingredients in Double Barrel’s drink was his wife’s tears. Real tears, bottled the night before….

The Morning After….

LCC’s Sarah Mitchell left nothing behind as she acted out a rock n roll night at the Rolling Stones Hotel after an episode of Saturday Night Live. Her morning after story, and hangover cure drink, were perfectly aimed considering the judging panel. It was also the first time I have ever seen someone make themselves look worse to present their drink!

The other competitors, Susie Wong, Russell Burgess, Raff Marino and Mark Holmes also had stories to tell and lovely drinks to serve but there could only be one winner and that one was Jesse Estes from The Luggage Room. His creation ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ hit all the right notes with the judges (specs below).

Dan Aykroyd was blown away by the quality of the drinks and presentations and I would imagine being entertained for a couple of hours, rather than having to do the entertaining himself, was a welcome change.

The party then moved onto Annabel’s where the live band and dance floor combined with plenty of Crystal Head to create one hell of a party. With a signing and gig the following night at London’s newest top bar NOLA, who had invented the Hurricane Dan especially for the occasion, they certainly kept the big man busy. They say don’t meet your hero’s, however Dan was as cool, relaxed and charming as I could ever imagine.

Jesse with his limited edition Crystal Head Box Set and some guy in sunglasses

Thanks to Bibendum, Paul, PJ, Nick and Jaye for bringing Dan over and sharing him around, as well as Hush for hosting the competition. Most of all thanks to all the bartenders involved in the comp for showing another visitor from across the pond just how good the UK bar scene is.

Mother’s Little Helper – Jesse Estes

75ml Crystal Head Vodka
25ml Cocchi Americano
7.5ml “Cream” sherry (blend of Oloroso and 30 year Pedro Ximenez)
2.5ml Creme de Peche
2 dashes vanilla pod-infused Absinthe
Stir and strain into a coupette glass. Garnish discarded lemon zest and flamed absinthe spray