We went North, we drank rum and two bartenders conquered. It must have been the Diplomatico Competition Northern Heat.
The plush surroundings of Bibi’s Italian Restaurant & Cocktail Bar in Leeds was our home for the afternoon and they looked after us exceptionally well, not least as they kept handing out drinks.
With the winners from the Scottish and the London Bars heats already decided we were looking for the next two to compete in London for the chance to get on a plane to Venezuela and compete for $5,000.
Once again the quality of competitors was exceptionally high with top talent from Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham on hand to fight it out. The quality of the judges looked slightly less stellar with BarLifeUK joined by The Liquorists, Jody Monteith. Thankfully we had local Leeds legend Chris Hill of Latitude Wine & Spirit Merchants who has been providing Leeds bars with top booze for many years to redress the judging panel balance.
After the pre-comp briefing from the John ‘You will go on my first whistle’ Anderson inspired Robert ‘Skippy’ Jupp everyone was raring to go.
The format of the competition is simple; create two serves of your original drink for the judging panel whilst keeping us entertained and informed. The only snag was this all had to be done within 5 minutes.
Once again a great crowd of supporters turned out and the atmosphere from first competitor to last was superb. We have come to expect being thoroughly entertained whenever BarLifeUK judge up North and we certainly weren’t disappointed.
On more than one occasion I was enjoying myself so much I almost forgot I was supposed to be judging. A particular doff of the cap must go to Bart Murphy of Hula, Manchester and Kieron Clark from Aloha, Liverpool who brought their best Tiki chat to the bar and were hilarious from start to finish.
In actual fact Kieron got a special mention from the judges at the end (and a bottle of rum), he was unlucky not to make the top two and not the only person to fall foul of the tight 5 minute time limit.
On the day however the two winners produced not only superb drinks but also excellent presentations. A combination of skills which have become more and more important in cocktail competitions recently.
First to head to London on April 8th for the final was Leeds very own Samantha Fish from Mojo who despite being surrounded by paperwork all morning was on top form when it mattered.
The second place went to The Liquorists, Massimo Zitti from Manchester and before anyone starts to worry that Jody was judging one of his own he didn’t judge Massimo’s presentation – take that conspiracy theorists!
Thanks to the fantastically helpful Bibi’s staff, Skippy for keeping everything on track and everyone who turned up for making it such a superb day. The list of competitors in the final is beginning to look pretty damn impressive and we’re looking forward to it already.
The winning drinks are below and details of the Bristol and second London heats coming soon on BarLifeUK.
Sam Fish – Mojo, Leeds
45ml Diplomatico Blanco
10ml Lime juice
10ml Manzanilla Sherry
4 Dashes Yellow Chartreuse
Shake dry, then on ice and serve straight up, garnished with a sliver of celery.
Massimo Zitti – The Liquorists, Manchester
60ml Diplomatico Blanco
30ml Lime juice
27.5ml Homemade ‘Bolivarian’ Falernum
25ml Wittard Orange Blossom Black Tea
10 ml Viña B Amontillado Sherry
Serve in coupe, spray with atomizer of peaty whisky with smoked star anise and garnish with orange zest and dry orange peel.