Anton Windmar of Artesian wins the Hernö Gin Cocktail Competition London heat
On a lovely warm-but-not-too-hot afternoon last week, five bartenders converged on Satan’s Whiskers for the London heat of the Hernö Gin Cocktail Competition. Following a round of paper-judging, these bartenders had won their place by submitting drinks and supporting statements that best fitted the competition’s brief – to create an entry inspired by ‘your back yard’. This could be interpreted literally (what do you see out of the window every day), or figuratively (how has your environment shaped your drink-making style), or a mixture of both.
The winner of this heat would join the winner of another heat held in Liverpool (write-up coming soon) on a trip to Sweden’s dramatically beautiful High Coast region to represent the UK at the global finals at the Hernö distillery. A quick look at the Visit Sweden website will show you that the scenery alone makes this a prize worth winning.
Joining BarLifeUK on the judging panel were Sophie Bratt (bar manager, Aqua Shard) and Joe Hall (bar manager, Satan’s Whiskers), the latter helpfully standing in for Hernö Gin’s Magnus Ernstsson who had fallen victim to the UK’s lousy rail system and wasn’t able to get to the heat.
It is probably a something of meme for competition judges to say ‘the standard was really high’ and ‘the results were really close’, but both statements were true on this occasion. As the competition progressed at a pleasingly relaxed-yet-efficient tempo, it became apparent to the judges that all of the competitors had nailed their drinks. In situations like this, the verbal presentation and other factors like staying within the allotted time limit, and clean bar skills, generally tip the balance in favour of one bartender. In this instance, Anton Windmar of Artesian excelled in all areas, which eventually won him the comp.
Anton took the ‘backyard’ theme of the competition literally, and created a dandelion root infusion and a pineapple weed cordial from ingredients foraged within a stone’s throw of his bar. The resulting drink was delicious, and his presentation perfectly addressed the competition’s theme.
An honourable mention must also go to Gareth Rees of The Fat Bear for presenting one of the most interesting competition drinks BarLifeUK has seen in a while. Gareth’s ‘The Duke of London’ cocktail employed Hernö Old Tom, a house tea blend, vanilla sugar, and a spiced cream float, to create a cocktail that was simultaneously hot and cold, and sweet and dry. It was complex drink in terms of taste and construction, and was highly rated by all three judges.
Congratulations then, to Anton Windmar, and best of luck in the final. Thanks must also go to everyone who entered the competition, and the bartenders who competed on the day.
Winner – Anton Windmar – Artesian
50ml Hernö London dry
30ml Pineapple weed cordial
2.5ml Dandelion root cold brew
1 Dash salt solution