Another sun drenched heat at The Last Word Saloon in Edinburgh saw the next person secure their seat on the plane to Ibiza for the Gin Mare Mediterranean Inspirations UK Final.
Word has definitely spread across the UK bar community about just how great the trip to Ibiza with Gin Mare is, as for the fourth heat in a row we were treated to some of the country’s best young bartenders knocking out superb gin cocktails.
As with each of the heats, the competitors were asked to produce two cocktails for the judging panel which consisted of BarLifeUK, Stuart ‘The Moustache’ Ekins from Gin Mare distributors CASK Liquid Marketing, Jennie Chuter from BarChick and local top dog and all-round good egg Martin Duffy. These two cocktails were a twist on a Dirty Martini and an original drink inspired by the Mediterranean, both had to be produced in 10 minutes.
Despite a particularly early start for a bunch of bartenders, when kick-off time arrived The Last Word was full of competitors and their supporters, in fact last through the doors was one of the judges (I won’t say who but his name is Martin).
There are many reasons we love judging the Gin Mare competition (clever drinks, sides of lovely food, a trip to Ibiza etc etc) however after a night out enjoying Edinburgh’s marvellous hospitality it was the fact that we always get a Bloody Mary style drink that lifted the judging panels spirits.
It didn’t take long with Jack from Tigerlily, the second competitor of the day, knocking out his Bloody Mare. Served in bottle with the option to add some extra spice to your own glass, it went down very well.
As the afternoon continued we were served some great drinks as the crowd were treated to plenty of Gin Mare & Tonics to keep them watered in the Scottish heat. A special mention must go to Russell from Tonic who, as always, had a trick up his sleeve for his presentation in the form of a poem. Unfortunately I can’t repeat it here for fear of lawsuits but if you see him, ask him.
Now the problem with a field as strong as that we were presented with is that the judging can take a little longer than usual, especially with a trip to Ibiza up for grabs for the winner. To that end the top three became a top four.
In fourth place was Michael from Guys Restaurant in Glasgow and third went to Will from Bon Vivant in Edinburgh. The top two were separated by the finest of fine margins so an extra special mention to second placed Natasha from The Finnieston Bar in Glasgow who would have won most competitions on most days with her drinks and performance.
On the day though she was pipped by the superb Terri from The Last Word. On top of competing she had the extra responsibility of hosting us all and knocking out endless rounds of G&T’s. It was a fantastic performance and she thoroughly deserved her place in the UK finals.
The atmosphere between the competitors had been superb throughout the day and it continued into the evening as the celebrations and congratulations continued. It was so infectious that I managed to miss my flight completely and slept on Stu’s hotel room floor (he wouldn’t let me top and tail).
Thank you to Edinburgh and its great bars and bartenders for great entertainment over the two days and nights, particularly The Last Word for hosting the competition so gracefully. As always thanks to everyone who made the effort to enter their drinks and come along to the heat, also to all the supporters for coming and helping to create such a great atmosphere. Finally to Gin Mare and CASK for putting on the competition and letting me stay on their hotel room floor.
Next up is the second London heat for the final spot in the UK final.
Winner – Terri, The Last Word, Edinburgh
Mediterranean Inspiration – The Old Grandpa
50ml Gin Mare
7ml Red bell pepper syrup
15ml Lemon juice
Dry shake, then wet shake and pour into glass over tonic. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and dehydrated tomato.
Dirty Martini Twist – Evolution
60ml Gin Mare
2 dash Celery bitters
Lagavulin (in atomizer for spray)
Stir drink down and pour into cocktail glass which had been spritzed with Lagavulin. Garnish with preserved lemon and basil leaf.
Runner Up – Natasha Ivanova, The Finnieston Bar, Glasgow
Mediterranean Inspiration – Cup of the Sea
40ml Gin Mare
15ml Peach puree
10ml St Germain
20ml Lemon juice
Shake and pour into glass with pomegranate seeds in bottom topped with crushed ice. Garnish with more pomegranate seeds.
Dirty Martini Twist – Spanish Summer
50ml Gin Mare
10ml Cocchi Sweet Vermouth (infused with thyme, rose and oregano)
10ml Heradurra Blanco Tequila
Dash Celery bitters
Stirred down and served in a cocktail glass with maraschino cherry as garnish.