A two day extravaganza saw bartenders from across the country battle it out over a series of rounds to become the 2019 Meister Hunter.
Having judged all of the heats of this years Jägermeister Meister Hunter Competition we were thoroughly looking forward to the final and seeing what the talented bartenders involved had in store for us.
We had been thoroughly impressed with the quality of the drinks and the originality of the serves that we’d seen on our travels. It is one thing doing that with weeks and months of planning but the final was going to test their ability to come up with drinks with much less prep time.
The man behind these two days worth of challenges was Florian Beuren the JägermeisterBrand Ambassador. He was on site at the Crucible on Monday morning to welcome the competitors, alongside him was Crucible owner Stu Bale and his team.
For those unaware of Crucible it is an amazing space dedicated to the weird and wonderful machines most bars and bartenders don’t have access to on a day to day basis. As well as a load of kit they have a series of experts on hand to talk bartenders through how best to use each piece.
After an introduction to the equipment the finalists were sent out on their first challenge, with a crisp ten pound note, 6 Jager minis and Jägermeister rep (to ensure no cheating) they were dropped at Borough Market. There they were given two hours to use their charms and bargaining skills to pick up all the ingredients they’d need to prepare their first drink of the final.
Back to Crucible and, with the house experts on hand to help, it was time to use the kit, the blagged ingredients and of course Jägermeister, Cold Brew or Manifest to knock up a glass of joy.
Joining Florian and Stu on the day one judging panel was Samantha Green, Events Manager at Mast-Jaegermeister UK. They tasted, they scored, they kept all the scores a secret. It was time for a night out before the next challenge on day two.
As you are probably beginning to tell the Meister Hunter Comp isn’t like any other. As the competitors were roused from their slumber they were informed what day two had in store, and it was the news every 13 year old dreams of. A day at an Ice-creamery.
After a masterclass and tasting at the amazing Gelateria 3bis in Notting Hill the finalists were given a table of ingredients a range of ice-creams and a couple of hours to create another Jägermeister serve.
By the time BarLifeUK arrived at Liquorette that evening for the final the upstairs bar was already packed with supporters and the increasingly nervous competitors. Joining us and Florian on the judging panel were Nicole Goodwin, Marketing Director at Mast-Jaegermeister UK, and Swani Korgaonkar from The Berkley.
Our job was to judge both the ice-cream serve as well as the drink that got them from the heats to the final. It was a big job not least because of the amazing prize, the winner would be walking away with £3,000 as well as a dedicated PR programme and joining the Jägermeister’s Hubertus Circle network of bartenders. Second and third place would also be getting a rather lovely £1,000 and £500 respectively.
First round saw the calorie level of the judges rise with the ice cream challenge and kicking us off was the always entertaining Andy Mil for Murder Inc. The ice cream Andy chose was parmesan flavoured and was stunning. His affogato style serve saw Cold Brew along with an eclectic bunch of ingredients including sesame oil, Cholula hot sauce and a ‘Jager’ tea. Oh and with Andy you always keep an eye on the name, this time – Moove Deer Get Out Of The Whey.
Next up came Ellie Raeside from Tonic in Edinburgh. As an ex-ice cream server she certainly had her scooping skills down to a fine art, as was her ability to balance lemon sorbet with Jägermeister. Combined with ingredients such as pink peppercorns, chili jam and more of that Cholula it was perfectly balanced and in the world of ice cream/sorbet drinks the best I have had.
Hamish Smith of Jakes Bar in Leeds closed out the first round with a drink I will be having on every bonfire night for the rest of time. Using a vegan dark chocolate ice cream with Manifest, coconut milk and plum jam the Sugar Plum Fury was a fantastically balanced warm serve that looked as good as it tasted.
The Mani-ficient Five
It was already clear it was going to be a tough decision and after a quick break we were back with their original drinks.
Little Mercies, Benji Davies has long been one of our favourite competition (and non-competition) bartenders and once again didn’t let us down. His ‘Not So Subtle Soundtrack’ was a fantastic drink with a presentation that didn’t miss a beat. Manifest, scotch, coconut oil, kaffir lime leaves were built with a touch lemon sherbet and soda. It was a moreish delight and he was a joy to watch.
The final of the five was Jonathan Arthur representing Edinburgh’s Bramble. Johnnie is a fantastic bartender but should he ever bugger up his shaking shoulder he could get a job reading books for Audible. His story of St Andrew and King David was fantastic and tied into the brand and competition perfectly.
It was a tight decision, made even more complicated when the scores from day one were added in. However there was one competitor who was on fire throughout, didn’t have a bad round and came out on top.
You see there was one more drink in round two that we haven’t mentioned, Ellie’s. Once again she produced a fantastic presentation and some of the nerves from round one had left her (perhaps Jager helped!). Her combination of Manifest, Cinzano Rosso and cherry shrub a hit with the judges and across the three rounds her scores ensured she topped the table.
Andy Mil and Benji Davies made up the top three but it is Ellie who is crowned this years Meister Hunter Champion.
A huge thanks to Jägermeister for a great competition and to all the bartenders who entered for helping to open up a whole new world of drinks for us to enjoy. Also thanks to Robyn and the team at Liquorette for looking after us at the final so well.
We will leave the last word to Florian seeing as he put the hard work in:
‘I think the Meister Hunter Comp is a little different as it builds up and the finalists have no clue at all what’s coming up. Every year we are looking to create different challenges which bartenders have not experienced in their day to day life/bar before. We try to take them out of their comfort zone to really test them but also try to do that in a relaxed and happy way so they all go home with an experience and great memories. We really want people to understand what a great fun and versatile liquids Jägermeister, Manifest and Cold Brew are’
Ellie Raeside – Tonic, Edinburgh
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