After 4 months of judging across the country and 4 finalists already decided the final heat took place in London recently.
In actual fact that isn’t entirely true. Due to the huge response to the competition (well over 150 entries were received) it was decided that there would be two not one final heat with 2 more spots going for the final in Ibiza.
The two heats would be taking place on consecutive days at Loves Company and LAB. The competition was going to be fierce but that had been standard for all of the heats. There was a trip to Ibiza up for grabs after all.
Both heats followed the same format for the competitors as the other heats, 10 minutes to make the judges both their Red Snapper twist and their Mediterranean Inspirations original. Make the drinks tasty, entertain the crowd and get in some good Gin Mare knowledge and they were in with a shout of a seat on that flight.
Loves Company provided shelter from the rain and the drinks certainly helped everyone focus on the sunshine of Ibiza. Ivan Villegas, entering his first comp since his move from Madrid, entertained the judges with tales of his childhood in Ibiza and his early memories of fig trees.
It was another Ibiza staple of olives however that provided the wood which he ‘speed aged’ his Gin Mare with. Ehren Khoo-Steel had left the sunshine of Brighton for the comp and but also had a fig motif for his Inspiration drink, combined with some very English mulberries in his Golden Coast cocktail.
Ollie Hampton from ROKA won the award for unusual ingredients however with greek yogurt in his Inspiration drink and the tamarillo (tree tomato) adding an unusual twist on a Red Snapper. Unusual ingredients are of course no use unless the work and Ollie managed to get both working superbly in his drinks.
LAB, as always, brought the crowds out with supporters packing downstairs and knocking back the Triple Orange Gin Mare & Tonics that Jorge (over from Spain) was handing out.
Throughout the previous heats competitors have tried all sorts of things to impress the judges from food matching to outrage garnishes, entrance music to fire. At the final heat it was glassware that was front and center which led to some excellent etchings from Stuart Ekins who draws every cocktail he judges on his score sheets.
Top of the glassware tree were Johnny Florea from One Canada Square who dusted his glass with blue sugar to give it the real deep sea look and Troels Knudsen from Mash who bottled his Inspiration drink in Bullfighter and Senorita glass bottles. The drawings were very special.
Food matching and garnishes were also on full show with Dawid Samulczyk from The Folly managing both in one go with a fried squid garnish on his Red Snapper twist. Damiano Madeddu of the Rivoli Bar went a step further with his salmorejo soup not only providing the base for his Red Snapper but also the food matching.
As always the judges decisions were not made easily with the quality of the drinks more than matching the thought and effort that had gone into the serves. Gin Mare competitions always get bartenders creative juices flowing and, it seems, no ingredient is too obscure to be discounted.
On this occasion the winners were Ollie and Damiano. They will be joining the winners of the other 4 heats in Ibiza for the UK final. One of those 6 will go on to represent the UK at the global finals.
BarLifeUK will of course be on hand to bring you all the news from the comp and the various other Ibiza based activities that go on. We will even check the quality of the gin and tonics over there for you, as that’s the kind of guys we are.
Big thanks to Russell, Loves Company, Drew and LAB for looking after us all so well.
Ollie Hampton – Roka, Shochu Lounge
50ml Gin Mare – Cinnamon infused
15ml peach liquor
40ml peach purée
40ml greek yogurt
15ml egg white
1 cinnamon quill
Put all ingredients into a shaker. Hard shake. Double strain over a piece of hand carved ice and garnish with 1 cinnamon quill as a straw.
Red Snapper Twist
Fish Out Of Water
50ml Gin Mare
1 tamarillo (tree tomato)
12.5ml yuzu juice
17ml All Spice sugar syrup
1/4 green chilli
Peel and cut the Tamarillo and place in a shaker with the cut up chilli and muddle. Add the rest of the ingredients plus ice and hard shake. Double strain into the coupe glass and garnish with slice of green chilli on the rim.
Damiano Madeddu – Rivoli Bar @ The Ritz
45 ml Gin Mare
15 ml cucumber juice
10 ml lime juice
10 ml elderflower cordial
5 ml Green Chartreuse
All hard shaken. Garnished with cucumber slice, and angostura drops.
Red Snapper Twist
60 ml Gin Mare
90 ml salmorejo spanish cold tomato soup (Ripe tomatoes, white bread crumbs, garlic, sherry vinegar, salt, pepper)
Rolled, and strained over ice, served with typical salmorejo sides.