Liverpool’s Danny McNeill is the new Northern Bartender of the Year

Big thanks go to Jameson Irish Whiskey for making this competition possible

Liverpool’s Santa Chupitos tender Danny McNeill is crowned Northern Bartender of the Year

For the first time since its inception over five years ago, the Northern Bartender of the Year competition, sponsored by Jameson Irish Whiskey, staged regional heats to select the best Northern bartenders in 2011.

Held in Leeds, Machester, Liverpool and Chester, 40 bartenders competed in the heats, with 8 going through to the final at the BarLife Show during Northern Restaurant & Bar.

The regional heats were judged by Jameson UK brand ambassador Ed McAvoy and BarLifeUK editor Andy Ives, and tasked entrants to create any kind of drink, with the only stipulation being the inclusion at least 30ml of Jameson.

The standard was incredibly high, and at more than one heat the judges struggled to separate the top three contenders in order to put the best two through.

In the end however, 8 finalists were selected:

  • Lee Jones – Mojo, Leeds
  • Dan Crowther – Angel’s Share, Leeds
  • Jody Monteith – The Liquorists, Manchester
  • Ossie Daniels – Black Dog Ballroom, Manchester
  • Paul Murphy – Living Room, Chester
  • Jamie Jones – Amber Lounge, Knutsford
  • Chris Edwards – Aloha, Liverpool
  • Danny McNeil – Santa Chupitos, Liverpool

The Final

The Northern Bartender of the Year 2011 final took place on the BarLife Stage at the Northern Restaurant and Bar Show on March 1st and recruited UK rum ambassador, Ian Burrell as a third judge.

The competitors were clearly all avid readers or BarLifeUK, as competitions shakes seemed absent for the most part, and everyone coped well with the pressure of performing on a big stage in front of over 300 spectators.

However, as close as the drinks were, only one competitor could win the title of Northern Bartender of the Year and the a trip to the Jameson Irish Whiskey Bartender’s Ball.

Danny (and his hair) in action at the final

The Winner – Danny McNeill, Santa Chupitos, Liverpool

Danny’s drink, Szechuan Jameson, was scored very highly by all of the judges, both in the heats and the final, and his delivery and knowledge of Jameson at the final made him the clear winner.

Danny told us: “I thought the standard of the competition was EXTREMELY high. Going on last made things harder, I had to watch everyone perform exceptionally well! I felt like every single competitor could have won. Fortunately, it was my day, and it’s a great honour to have won the competition.”

Jameson UK brand ambassador, Ed McAvoy, said: “I was amazed by the overall standard of the entries. The level of creativity and imagination was outstanding. I thought Danny’s food pairing was spot-on and he managed to create some really intense flavours without detracting anything from the whiskey itself. I particularly liked the Jameson-plum dipping sauce.”

Danny’s winning Drink

Szechuan Jameson

  • Bspn Szechuan peppercorns
  • 70ml Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • Dash Plum Bitters
  • Bspn Amaru Averna
  • Star Anise
  • Garnish with vegetarian spring rolls and Jameson plum dipping sauce

Both Jameson Irish Whiskey and BarLifeUK would like to congratulate Danny on such a great performance, and also thank all of the other competitors for getting involved, and the bars who hosted the regional heats and made the competition possible.