A great turn out at the London heat led to a whole lot of fun and a missed last train home.
You know it’s been a good night when you find yourself on a train platform staring at the back end of your last train as it winks you goodbye and you just shrug with a smile. That dear readers was the scene at Victoria station last week after an excellent Jägermeister Meister Hunter heat at Long Lane Bar.
When we arrived at the bar it was already filling up with competitors and supporters, by the time we started it was packed with our twelve competitors and their friends and colleagues including previous competitors and finalists of the Meister Hunt. The atmosphere was fantastic, the ice-cold Jägermeister shots and cocktails were flowing. We had a good feeling.
Each of these twelve competitors was there to win a spot at the final of the competition which will see one bartender £3K better off (second and third also get £1.5K and £500 respectively). To get that berth at the final the competitors would have 5 minutes to make two serves of their entered Jägermeister cocktail, keep the judges and crowd entertained and free pour a 25ml shot of Jägermeister.
Now it is time my London friends for a confession here. At the previous heat in Liverpool I was impressed with the amount of bartenders who nailed a perfect pour, free pouring is after all a craft that is in decline in most bars. At the end of the competition I said to Jägermeister UK Brand Ambassador and the man behind Meister Hunter Florian ‘Flo’ Beuren that there was no way London would be as good at the free pour.
I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the London bartending community (or at least the ones at the comp) as you proved me fantastically wrong. Almost every pour was bang on. I was wrong, you are the best. On the plus side Flo had a great night rubbing my nose in it!
Anyway, enough self-flagellation let’s get on with the competition. As in Liverpool BarLifeUK and Flo were joined on the judging panel by Nina Eggeling, Head of Global Marketing for Jägermeister. Dan Mussen was on announcing and crowd control duty and we were off.
There were just too many competitors to give everyone a decent shoutout on here so I have picked a few of my favourites. Kicking off a competition is always tricky but Carlos Garcia from Oriole Bar did a cracking job with a presentation and drink based around Vikings. Flavours such as berries and mead were linked to Vikings and Jägermeister and I learnt many things including that Vikings used to have magic mushrooms before going into battle. Great start.
Anna Gaglione from The Racketeer has competed in the London heat every year for as long as I can remember, it is always great to see her and each year she manages to come up with completely new ideas and styles of drink. This year saw her take one of the greatest modern day classics, Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew, and put a Jägermeister twist on it. It was absolutely delicious and I have no doubt Pete Jeary would devour one happily.
If there was an award for heartfelt presentation of the night (possibly the year) then Alice Ford from TCC Shaftesbury Avenue would be making room on her mantlepiece. Her drink was inspired by the moments we hold dear (or maybe deer) from bar work and her family and friends. All the ingredients were linked together and back to people, like her ginger for her mum (going home and being told ‘you look tired’) and banana, her sons favourite sweet. It was a beautifully heartfelt 5 minutes and the resulting drink was one of the best of the evening.
Over the past few years of judging Meister Hunter we have tried numerous twists on Manhattan style drinks but Claudio Raimondo from NQ64 made one of the best we’ve had with his serve inspired by family road trips. His twist using Martell and spiced pineapple syrup with Jägermeister was absolutely fantastic and I hope to be able to get it whilst having my arse handed to me on Guitar Hero by Andy at an NQ64 soon.
Robert Shaw from TT Liquor knows how to put on a show and he didn’t hold back here. We had Scottish music playing and the judges were given new names and characters (I was Kurt) as he made a cocktail with magical powers. Throughout the presentation each ingredient was tied back to the story and Jägermeister. It was a masterclass in how to structure a competition presentation with the final flourish of the drink being served in hipflasks.
As you can hopefully see the quality was really strong and a lot of the competitors would, rightly, have thought they were in with a good shout for the win. However no-one had reckoned on Tristan Carvalho from Murder Inc.
Shortly into Tristan’s presentation I scribbled on my scoresheet ‘Star of the Future’, it quickly became apparent I had judged too quickly, he was already there. He claimed he was a ‘small boy with a small voice’ but as he told the story of growing up in Singapore and his experiences of east and west cultures he had the crowd hanging on his every word. A fun and informative presentation led into a superb and original drink balancing Jägermeister with Lillet Blanc, an Amaro blend and honey liqueur.
What a heat it was. As feedback and congratulations were given and old friends were chatted to, yet more Jägermeister flowed and next thing I know there I was looking at the arse end of my journey home disappearing into the distance.
A huge thanks to the contestants and supporters for being so generous with their encouragement of all the competitors. Also to the staff at Long Lane Bar for keeping them just lubricated enough. As always thanks for Flo, Nina, Dan and the rest of the Jägermeister team for putting on such a fun comp. Next up Brighton & Glasgow (now missing that train home would be a lot more troublesome).