London Heats Of Bacardi Legacy

The Bacardi Legacy UK judging road trip reached its climax in London.

The number of entries in this year’s Bacardi Legacy comp was, unsurprisingly, huge and no area more so than London. In actual fact the numbers and quality were so high that the decision was made to run two heats over two days – a decision my liver was very happy with.

May in full briefing mode

The road trip had taken the judging panel of Metinee ‘May’ Konanddotheconga, UK Bacardi Brand Ambassador; Chelsie Bailey, reigning UK Legacy Champion and BarLifeUK to Manchester and Edinburgh the week before (click on the city for the relevant heat article). To help out with the massive number of drinks we were going to have to work our way through in London we were joined by one of last years UK Finalists, Clare Marrow.

We have been judging Bacardi Legacy with May for 6 years now and are repeatedly amazed by not just the quality of the drinks and presentations, or indeed the amount of effort that everyone puts in, but more the ability to keep surprising us.

Sometimes it is a combination of flavours that catches us off guard, sometimes it is the inspiration for the drink, the techniques used can also keep us guessing. Whatever it is, it makes Bacardi Legacy, even after 6 years and hundreds of cocktails, consistently one of (if not the) most enjoyable competitions to judge.

With all that in mind London had a lot to live up too. We are very happy to let you know they did not disappoint.

Day One

There is another thing that surprises us, the fact that people can be presenting in their first cocktail competition at a Bacardi Legacy heat and come across like a seasoned pro making a drink in their own bar.

On day one it was Alice Ford from LCC who pulled of this achievement. The presentation was relaxed and funny, drawing on her mums love of Bacardi Carta Blanca and her ways of smuggling into parties and events. The drink was always going to make me happy as soon as she reached for the Midori bottle, what a way to start your comp career.

The serious job of judging

It wouldn’t be a London Legacy heat without some Japanese technique I struggle to spell being used and Stevie Kame from CUB was on hand to oblige. His drink The Root Stock was a fantastic idea with a bit of education leading into flavours from his personal roots, in banana and chocolate. Carta Blanca once again was reached for with salted chocolate bitters, gentian liqueur and crème de banane all added, then came some chilled water and the mizuari was released.

From the Lobby Bar at the London Edition, Yoann Tarditi produced a fantastic presentation with a drink to match. Based around 3 revolutions (after pointing out his homeland of France are pretty good at them) – Cuban, rum and cocktail – his chat had the whole room entertained. The drink was one of the stars of the day with Blanca, Manzanilla, honey, raspberry and lime producing a drink that tasted as good as it looked.

Name of the day went to Albert David with the Straw Fedora. Line of the day went to Jumpei Yamamoto ‘None of my team are here to support me today as they’ve all gone to a Japanese Whiskey Tasting – fair call I say’. Bonus joke points went to Giovani Bruno with a non-stop barrage of jam puns for his serve Cuban Jam.

However we needed a winner. Thankfully as we went off to deliberate there was plenty of Legacy legends in the room to keep the competitors entertained with Matthew Dakers, Leon Back, Kaitlin Wilkes and 2015 Global Champion Franck Dedieu all in the building.

The wildcard spot went to Yoann (one wildcard from each heat being chosen with the best joining the other four finalists) for a superb performance and drink. However the winner was unanimous amongst the judges – William Campbell-Rowntree from the Artesian.

Will seemed suitably shocked when his name was announced

Will didn’t let being last up on the day put him off and was engaging from start to finish. His drink, Changing Waves, was inspired by surfing back home at Whitley Bay as well as three things he is passionate about – the planet, bartenders health and Caribbean market stalls. The drink was another inspired by the mizuari style.

He also stood out using Bacardi Cuatro which worked superbly in his drink combining with the Aperitivo, falernum and watermelon (full specs below). The whole package was hugely impressive and is yet another strong contender in this years UK Final.

Just one more heat to go, one more guaranteed space up for grabs and of course a decision on that wildcard So we found ourselves at:

Day Two

If the field for day one looked strong then day two was herculean. A look at the bartenders and bars represented and it didn’t take a genius to know it was going to be a good day to be a judge.

With such a strong field standing out from the crowd was going to be key and the Beaufort Bar’s, Leonardo Filippini certainly did that from the outset. His confident start woke the room up and he kept them engaged with his Lion based presentation. His drink backed it up with a Bacardi Cuatro base combined with grapefruit, lemon, Tio Pepe and bitters.

Sam Boevey from LCC stood out with a great concept and the line of the day. His drink inspiration was based on the idea that a classic cocktail should be one that can be twisted – his base being Bacardi Cuatro, vanilla, pineapple, lime and cardamom. As the clock was ticking down to his 6 minute limit he was fine straining his drink and finishing his presentation ‘I want people to enjoy this drink, I want bartenders to twist this drink and I want this strainer to have bigger holes!!’.

There was a fair bit of Legacy experience in the group as well, none more so than with Marco Corallo from Gong who represented the UAE at the Global Finals in Mexico in 2018. His experience of performing on the big stage was apparent with his engaging a very funny presentation backing up a drink with the DNA of a Legacy classic – Bacardi Carta Blanca, sweet vermouth, sauvignon blanc, bitters and tonic.

One of the drinks of the day came with a strong message about the distress call from our stripy friends the bees. The Artesian’s Emilio Di Salvo produced his drink May Day with Bacardi Cuatro, blanche absinth, salt, honey and champagne which had the judges fighting for ‘judging sips’ and, as he always does, he wrapped it up with a superb presentation.

On day one it was the final presentation of the day that got the win and day two also saved a gem for last. Ferdia Murray from The American Bar at The Savoy was last up as he was late arriving, he embraced this and turned his presentation to be based around his journey to the heat. It was one of the most complete presentations we’ve seen with stories of suits at dry cleaners, taxi’s driving off and cancelling on him being both funny and linked to his original idea and name of his drink The Principal.

The winner was going to have to really shine to beat this pack, it was always going to come down to fine margins and there was one competitor who managed to put it all together to get those extra few points.

Nicole remembering a key ingredient

Nicole Sykes from Lyaness had it all. The inspiration was based on ladders (also the name of her drink) and the importance of moving up the rungs, be it when building your personal legacy or your Legacy drink. During her presentation everything was linked back to this idea and let her personality shine through.

At the end of the presentation the drink was served (as is usually the way) and it was one of those moments you could see all the judges willing it to be a great cocktail. We were not disappointed, a refreshing highball that was described by one of the judges perfectly…. chinable.

So there we had our final four but there was still one place up for grabs and that was from the wild card group. Leonardo joined the wild cards from the other heats. It was a couple of days later that we sat down with May to decide who would be getting that all important fifth spot. By that point it had been 10 days since we had judged Ed Belshaw in Manchester but we couldn’t get his presentation or drink out of our heads so it was him that deservedly took the final spot.

So the Bacardi Legacy UK Finalists 2020 who will be joining May on an amazing trip to New York and Puerto Rico before battling it out for the No. 1 spot and a trip to Miami for the Global Finals are:

Alex Godfrey – Milk Thistle, Bristol
Matthew Galloway – Tigerlily, Edinburgh
William Campbell-Rowntree – Artesian, London
Nicole Sykes – Lyaness, London
Ed Belshaw – World Service, Nottingham

Things we have learnt on the Bacardi Legacy UK tour this year are that Bacardi Carta Blanca is still the bartenders go to (although Cuatro was also very popular), honey is going to be the ‘trendy’ ingredient for the Global Finals and the UK finalists are a hell of a group and any one of them could go all the way in Miami.

As always a huge thankyou to everyone who entered and those that made such an effort at the heats, to the supporters that gave up valuable free time to cheer them on and all of the bars and bartenders who looked after us so well.

We will be bringing you updates on the finalists continuing adventures on their Bacardi Legacy journey. Good luck gang.

Winner Day One

Changing Waves

William Campbell-Rowntree – Artesian, London

Changing Waves
50ml Bacardi Cuatro
20ml Martini Fiero
10ml falernum
25ml watermelon syrup (1:1)
60ml filtered water

Built in a hi-ball glass over cubed is and stirred to chill.

Winner Day Two


Nicole Sykes – Lyaness, London

45 ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
30ml pink grapefruit juice
5ml crème de peche
5ml honey water (3:1)
4 dashes orange blossom water

Shake and serve over cubed ice in a hi-ball glass with 60ml soda water top. Garnish with a pink grapefruit slice.

Wild Card Winner
Ed Belshaw – World Service, Nottingham

Field Marshall
40ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
50ml sauvignon blanc
30ml pineapple juice
20ml celery syrup

Shake and fine strain into a coupe, garnish with a grapefruit zest.