The final stop on the UK leg of this year’s Meister Hunter saw us north of the border.
We have spent a lot of time in Glasgow this year judging cocktail competitions (and still not enough time actually out drinking) and every single time it has been beautiful sunshine. Well, the sunniest city in the UK was at in again as we stepped off the train.
Over the last few months we have had a lot of fun judging in Glasgow, and Scotland in general, with the Scottish bartenders consistently putting on a great show and knocking out superb drinks. This heat was to prove no different.
The other thing Scotland has proved this year is the camaraderie they share, it creates a great atmosphere which we are sure helps contribute to the quality we consistently see. This was amped up even higher at the Meister Hunter heat with the local Hubertus Circle gang on hand to lend their support and expertise.
Leading the Hubertus Circle charge was Bramble’s Sam Baxendale who was taking on the role of compere for the day, which includes the always tricky job of keeping the judging panel in check. For the last time on the tour BarLifeUK was joined by UK Jägermeister Brand Ambassador, creator of Meister Hunter and lover of flavoured cider Florian ‘Flo’ Beuren and Head of Global Marketing, boss of the Hubertus Circle and lover of all things Buckfast Nina Eggeling.
Challenge – 2 serves of the entered drink. Time limit – 5 minutes. Curve ball – free pour 25ml shot of Jager in the time. Prize – a place in the final in November for the chance to win £3K. Ready? – yes.
The Meading Of Life
Cam Chittleborough from Hoot the Redeemer got the show underway with a summery floral drink which included the unusual ingredient of catnip. The catnip (a member of the mint family apparently) was combined with his mum’s homemade apricot jam to create an absolutely delicious cordial, combined with Jägermeister, Jamaican rum and mead for his drink – Hooked On A Feline.
Ross Campbell from 63rd + 1st told his story over the past couple of years which will resonate with bartenders across the country. Losing his job, finding another which didn’t turn out, considering jacking it all in and finally finding a new home which reminded him why he loves this industry. It was a heartfelt but funny look back, with a drink which looks forward to the future, a future that is gonna be damn tasty if that cocktail is anything to go by.
Our second Mead appearance of the day (not an ingredient we usually see associated with Scotland) came from Jack Goodman. His use came after his boss told him ‘Mead as a concept will never work on a menu’, Jack it seems likes a challenge and his drink containing Jägermeister, mead and black cherry shrub should win him the argument. It was however the cherrywood smoking of the serve that had the crowd ooohhhhhing and cheering.
Throughout the years of judging Meister Hunter we have heard many people speak of hunting, a touchstone in the history of Jägermeister, but with Sascha Montgue from Chatrau-X we heard a much more personal story. Sascha used to hunt with his uncle and told the story of the first stag he killed, it is a difficult subject to talk about but he did it superbly with a reverence for the animal which was very heartfelt. His drink was based on his uncle and specifically his favourite cocktail (a fact he discovered on the day in question), a Mojito, his twist a refreshing take that would whet any whistle after a day on the hunt.
Gavin Lidbury of Glasgow institution The Finnieston also spoke to an issue many bartenders face, the non-industry house party and in particular the expectations when people discover you’re a bartender. Coming up with a tasty drink when faced with the limited ingredients on offer at a house party is obviously something that haunts Gavin but if his serve is anything to go by, he needn’t worry. His drink, a twist on the Lagerita, did a great job of using ingredients you’d expect to find at a party and having beer, in this case a Helles, as the lengthener was superb.
Those Romans had a goddess for everything, for Chris Smart of Three Marys Bar it was Pomona the goddess of fruit who inspired. In his case pineapple and banana were the fruits of choice and to pay homage to her he wanted to use every element of said fruits. The bananas were turned into an oleo syrup and the pineapple was infused into mezcal, anything left was used for the garnish. To the fruit, Jägermeister, lime juice and egg white were added to create a great looking and tasting drink.
As you can see from above the quality was superb, so it was going to need something special to climb to the top. That something special came from Hoot The Redeemer’s Carrie Smith. In just 5 minutes Carrie told a tale involving the links between Jägermeister and Scottish history, the sociability of the Scots and Curt Mast, hunting with her dad and his hipflasks of mulled Buckfast and the stories he told of witches being burned.
It was the final element she focused on, in particular Janet Horn a ‘badass witch’ whose love of herbs inspired the ingredients (full specs below) and last words, as she was burned alive, ‘What a bonnie blaze’ inspired the name. On top of the presentation the drink was delicious and looked fantastic.
Congratulations to Carrie and thanks to all the competitors and supporters for making it such a fun day. A big thanks to the Banana Moon team for making us feel so welcome and to Ka Pao for a superb meal afterwards.
It has been great to be back on the road with Jägermeister this year and in particular Flo, Nina and photographer extraordinaire Jim. The final will be taking place in November over two days in London with all sorts of treats in store for the finalists. We will be there to bring you all the news but in the meantime here’s Carrie’s drink spec for you to try.
Carrie Smith – Hoot The Redeemer, Edinburgh
20ml homemade cherry orgeat shrub
15ml Buckfast infused with ancho chillies
15ml raspberry beer
2 drops Ms Betters Green Strawberry Mah Kwan Bitters
Stirred down and served over block ice with a black charcoal sugar glass decoration.