The final of the Funkin Innovations Champion competition took place recently at Nightjar in London and innovation was certainly the order of the day.
As more and more competitions launch across the UK brands are becoming ever more original with not only the format of the competitions but the prizes on offer for the winners. Funkin certainly continued this trend with a unique take on the ‘standard’ competition format.
The 5 finalists from across the UK gathered at an ungodly hour for men and women of their profession (i.e. before midday) to begin the first part of the days challenge. They were presented with the latest innovation from the Funkin fruit puree range in the form of Cape Gooseberry (otherwise known as Physalis).
They had not been told what this new flavour was until they arrived and were given an hour each behind the Nightjar bar to try the product and using the vast array of products on hand come up with a signature serve for the new flavour. To really up the ante they also had a budget of £100 which had to cover everything they used in experimentation and in the presentation of the drink to the judges later in the day.
Whilst they were taking it in turns to jump behind the bar they were also feverously on laptops, iPads and phones to research as much about the Cape Gooseberry as they could for their presentations. However that wasn’t all the day had in store for them.
The prize on offer was a fantastic one, with the winner joining the Funkin team and working alongside Funkin’s very own consultant Ben Reed to continue the great relationship Funkin have with the on-trade whilst helping to push the boundaries of innovation with new product ideas and flavours. On top of that there was a rather tasty £1,000 cash prize as well.
With the job role element of the prize, the ability to show what the finalists could bring to the company was obviously vital and as such each finalist had to present their take on the company as it currently stands and where they felt it could grow. There were some very interesting new product ideas also floated to the judging panel of BarLifeUK, Ben, Funkin founder Alex Carlton and Nightjar’s own Marian Beke.
It was then back to more familiar ground for everyone involved with the presentation of their cocktails. There were some exceptionally clever ideas and flavour combinations on show especially considering the fact they had tasted the Funkin Cape Gooseberry puree for the first time only a couple of hours earlier.
Andrea from Forgotten Hospitality followed up her assured and confident presentation with a product knowledge filled cocktail demonstration putting a new twist on the Golden Fizz (complete with golden eggs). The lesser half of Forgotten Hospitality in the form of Stu didn’t let the side down coming up with two cocktails (a light gin based and more classic bourbon based) in the time and budget limit and still had enough of his cash left over to pour himself a 150 year old rye at the end.
The journey down from Leeds hadn’t dented Matthew’s sense of humour when, as he smoked the glass, Marian asked the reason for this ‘cuz it looks cool’ came the response. He also produced BarLifeUK’s favourite drink of the day in the form of an exceptionally clever Blood & Sand twist 25ml each Funkin Cape Gooseberry, Saki, Cocchi Sweet Vermouth and Yamazaki 12yo) that had the judging panel baffled and mightily impressed. Steven had obviously been inspired by the beach lifestyle during his Cape Goosberry research and created a long, crushed ice serve including Jager and JW Black Label to sip as you felt the sand between your toes.
However the winner scored very highly in both elements of the competition, impressing with his assured brand presentation including some product ideas the Funkin team were very excited about and backing it up with a very innovative and darn tasty cocktail. Double Barrel Dan (or Daniel Redman-Hubley as his new Funkin business cards will probably say) of Trailer Happiness triumphed which came as no surprise to the other competitors.
His Lassie style cocktail, Brick Lane Breakfast, ticked all the boxes and certainly made the most of the array of products on display at Nightjar (full specs below) and balanced the natural bitterness of the seemingly very versatile Cape Gooseberry.
It was a great day, a brilliant comp and a thoroughly deserved winner. Special thanks must go to Marian and his team at Nightjar for their amazing hospitality and fantastic food and drinks throughout the day. Funkin also deserve great credit for what was a clever twist on a competition which everyone thoroughly enjoyed.
Keep your eyes peeled as a Double Barrel Dan will be heading your way soon with his rather swish new Funkin bar kit however fear not he’ll still be behind the stick at Trailer Happiness should you want to buy him a congratulatory drink.
Winner: Daniel Redman-Hubley
Brick Lane Breakfast
50 ml Funkin Cape Gooseberry purée
40 ml CapuCana Cachaca
15 ml chai infused Trois Rivières
40 ml kefir yoghurt
2 drops Absinthe bitters
20 ml garam masala honey syrup
Shake and garnish with poppadum dipped in mango chutney, sprinkle of saffron and a shot of lager on the side