The rain didn’t damped the spirits, or stop the dreams of hot relaxing afternoons around the pool, at the recent London heat of the Gin Mare Mediterranean Inspirations competition.
Each year the Mediterranean Inspirations competition produces some of the best drinks we taste in competitions, but it also pushes the competitors both in the creative element and during the actual presentations.
This year the creative element involved coming up with a cocktail inspired by the artichoke (the drink could include artichoke or be inspired by our thistle-y friend) as well as the classic Mediterranean inspired cocktail. 2 of each of these serves had to be made for the judges within an 8 minute time limit during the presentations themselves.
The panel of judges for the London heat were BarLifeUK, Stuart Ekins and Jennie Rae Chuter of CASK Liquid Marketing as well as Leon Dalloway from Gin Journey. Our home for the day was Bloomsbury Hotel, in a bar which made Leon feel particularly at home – The Dalloway Terrace.
As always nervous energy filled the room before we kicked off, but to help out there were Gin Mare and 1724 Tonic’s as well as Hobo Cider on hand.
Duncan Raley from Worship Street Whistling Shop kicked us off in style with his drinks, in particular his artichoke inspired drink focusing on his time spent living in Alicante. His combination of Gin Mare, saline solution and a banana & artichoke vermouth was fantastic, it would also be remiss of me to not mention the use of catnip in his Med Inspired drink….. catnip.
Quaglino’s Davide Arcucci is a great storyteller and he kept the crowd entertained during his artichoke inspired presentation, talking about his granny and her cooking prowess. It did leave him a little tight for time for his second drink however, leaving him to announce ‘The other one, we make it very fast’.
Another great storyteller followed with Luca Milesi of the Artesian Bar, another grandparent story was told as he made his Med Inspired serve, about his grandfather, a sailor, and his grandmother waiting each day at sunset for him to return. The drink was based on this concept, with both the look and taste taking us to the beaches of the mediterranean.
The Negroni was a very popular drink to twist for the artichoke inspired drink however Jamie Rowe from Milk & Honey mixed things up with a Daiquiri twist. It was a daiquiri twist that utilised plenty of artichoke flavours with the stem being included as well as an artichoke tincture and artichoke sugar syrup.
Top Three Time
However there was only room for the top three in the UK final, taking one of the spots was Every Cloud’s Felix Cohen. His Mediterranean Inspired drink, in particular, caught the judges eyes, based around his time travelling around the mediterranean on diving holidays staying in hostels. The finished drink took ingredients from across the Med such as green pepper, verjus and pear to create a light and refreshing cocktail.
J Rivera from 15 reworked the Red Snapper for his artichoke inspired serve, creating a very light version with not just artichoke but also fennel as well as black olive bitters. His Med Inspired serve was equally as tasty and was one of the best looking drinks of the day.
Joining these two at the final is Dario Guaglione from Worship Street Whistling Shop who created a Med Inspired serve based on a favourite mediterranean salad and the festival that celebrates it. His artichoke drink included not just an artichoke juice syrup but also cream cheese, not a combination that would occur to everyone coming up with a cocktail recipe, but one that worked exceptionally well.
These three will be joining the three winners from the Northern heat to fight it out for the trip to Ibiza to compete in the global final.
Big thanks to the Bloomsbury Hotel and their staff for looking after us all so well, also thanks to our fellow judges (especially Jennie for her excellent ‘plusing up’ skills) and CASK for putting the competition on. Most importantly thank you to all the competitors for all your hard work and the supporters for coming down and cheered them on.