For weeks since the close of regional heats, the 42Below Cocktail World Cup (CWC) UK Final was simply a big red X on the calendars of the seven competing teams.
However, as August 14th approached, both anticipation and the team’s efforts to give themselves a wildcard safety net began to increase, to the point that during the grand finale of the competition, BarLifeUK witnessed one of the biggest spectator crowds they’ve ever seen at a comp.
The day began much earlier for the competitors though, with 21 nervous-looking bartenders converging on London’s Floripa bar at midday, for prep, a mystery box round and to give the marketing presentations that would award a wildcard place.
The mystery box round gave each team 4 minutes and 20 seconds to create a drink using the 42Below range, anything on Floripa’s back bar, and of course, a mystery ingredient such as wasabi or, much to Team Ireland’s delight, bottled Guinness.
BarLifeUK were part of the drinks judging panel, and at the end of the mystery box round the scores were so tight, there was no clear winner.
A separate judging panel received the marketing presentations, which looked at the on and offline efforts of the teams to raise their, and thereby the brand’s, profile.
Once the original drink presentation had declared an outright winner, the team with the best marketing score would be awarded seats on the plane to the New Zealand final as wild cards.
Because the mystery box round was so close, and not being a part of the marketing panel, BarLifeUK had no idea who might be edging ahead of the pack at this point, and as the lights dimmed and the crowd got noisy for the grand finale, the comp was wide open.
No performance anxiety
This being the 42Below Cocktail World Cup, performance and stagecraft are given a much higher weighting than in other competitions. That’s not to say the quality of the drink is unimportant by any means, but if you can’t get a crowd going, you wont win this comp, no matter how good your cocktail is.
The teams all knew this, and the original drink round was epic. Each team had clearly put enormous effort and energy into their preparation and performances; everyone who made it the final should be proud of their efforts on the night.
However, Team East London, in the shape of Terry Cashman (The Hoxton Pony), Alex Clark (64th & Social) & Simon Toohey (Callooh Callay), literally blew the judges and crowd away.
Their ‘Eastie Boys’ performance (think the Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic video) had everyone in the bar shouting at the top of their voices.
At some stage in the lead up to their turn on stage, Team East London had secreted what seemed like dozens of silly string canisters in the crowd, which were fired as the drinks were presented to the judges in a hail of day glow snow.
Somehow during this mayhem, they managed to create a really tasty, balanced cocktail which, in tandem with their performance, had all of the judges, including vodka skeptic Ian Burrell, scoring them unanimous winners.
Team Scotland, comprising of Jamie McDonald (The Raconteur), Danil Nevsky (Society) and Megan DeMeulenaere (Bramble), won the wildcard spot, and will form the second flank of the UK’s attack on the Cocktail World Cup final in New Zealand in September.
BarLifeUK are going along for the ride (‘embedded’ might be a better term on this occasion), and will report back first hand on the adventures of what is a very formidable collection of bartenders vying for the CWC World Title.
Rest of the World – Watch out… The UK is coming.
The UK teams and their drinks:
Terry Cashman (The Hoxton Pony), Alex Clark (64th & Social) and Simon Toohey (Callooh Callay)
Poppy’n your Feijoinity
20ml Lemon juice
20ml Sugar syrup (1:1)
5ml Liqueur de coquelicot
A dash of egg white
50ml 42 Below Feijoa
Coupette, lemon zest (discard)
Jamie McDonald (The Raconteur), Danil Nevsky (Society) and Megan DeMeulenaere (Bramble)
25ml 42Below Manuka
20ml 42Below Feijoa
15ml Chartreuse VEP
1 dash Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters
700mg Citric acid (inside blue and red pills)
Bundle of dried Anchan flowers
Add all ingredients apart from the citric acid and Aperol into a mixing glass. Place the mixing glass into a hot water bath to heat up the alcohol and release natural blue colouring from the Anchan flowers.
Once a bright blue colour is achieved remove the flowers. Put on some Morpheus Glasses, offer the customer a red or blue pill and pronounce the following: “You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.
You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” When the customer picks a pill, break open the capsule and pour the citric acid inside into the mixing glass and stir.
The blue colour will turn red as the flowers are a natural litmus test. Add ice and Aperol and stir down. Spray some orange zest into a frozen Old Fashioned glass, add ice and pour the drink into the glass. Spray additional orange zest over the top and garnish with orange peel.
Dan Aeyton (Bibis Italianissimo), Clare Morrow (Tro Bar & Grill) and Dave West (Jakes Bar & Still Room)
50ml 42Below Feijoa
25ml 42Below Pure, redistilled with rhubarb
2 bar spoons of homemade rhubarb jam
5ml lemon juice
Shake all ingredients together and fine strain. Pour into a glass smoked with absinthe and tonka beans
Max Venning (The Violet Hour), Dan D’Amelio (Aloha) and Matt Hastings (Forum Cafe Bars)
Blend all ingredients together, shake and then strain
South and West:
Daniel Bovey (Sahara Bar), Jolene Cadwell (Papaji) and Benji Ryde (Mix Bar)
50ml 42Below Passion
50ml Oxford Gold Ale
30ml Coca-cola syrup
20ml Remy Martin VSOP
20ml Lemon juice
20ml Pineapple Juice
Shake hard and serve over crushed ice with lemon, lime, pineapple, kiwi and blueberry garnish
Mate Csattos (China Tang), Michael Stringer (The Kensington Rood Gardens) and Dan Redman-Hubley (Sushi Samba)
25ml 42Below infused with red pepper, aji panda chilli and oregano
5ml fresh lime juice
5ml dry curaçao
Stir down on ice and strain into a chilled shot glass
42ml 42Below Feijoa
20ml Sipsmith Sloe Gin
20ml Yuzu juice
15ml Creme de Abricot
15ml Tonka-Maple syrup
2 dashes Beetroot bitters
Shake and strain into a chilled coupette glass rimmed with dried hibiscus
40ml 42Below Manuka Honey
20ml Vanilla infused 42Below
20ml White Creme de Cacao
20ml Rose liqueur
2 measures Agar Agar
Bring all to the boil and cool quickly in a non stick mould to create ‘turkish delight’ flavoured jelly
80ml 42Below Manuka Honey
250ml Double Cream
Mix the 42Below, honey and cream together. Empty a food grade CO2 fire extinguisher into a pillowcase to create dry ice and empty this into a bowl. Add your vodka, honey and cream mixture into the ‘dry ice’ and stir thoroughly to create ice cream. Set this on top of the jelly and serve.
Pat Thomas (The Dylan Hotel), Nathan O’Neill (The Merchant Hotel) and Daniel Mulligan (Pichet)
42 Shades of Green
40ml of feijoa 42 below
5ml Mozart white chocolate liquer
10ml Fernet Branca
15ml homemade Tonka bean syrup
35ml apple juice
4-6 pieces of pineapple mint
Shake all of these and strain them into plotoinuim rods. And add 20ml Bunderberg root beer