Mount Gay Black Barrel Manchester Heat

The Mount Gay Black Barrel competition made its penultimate stop in Manchester to pick two more bartenders to head to Barbados.

As the judging team of BarLifeUK, Mount Gay Ambassador Miguel Smith and one of last years Mount Gay Apprentices Milos Popovic boarded the train to head up to Manchester there was a definite air of excitement. We knew that judging comps in the north is always an entertaining day, judging rum comps is next level and with two places to Barbados up for grabs….. well who knew what was in store.

Simon and his machine
Simon and his machine

The one thing you can guarantee with bartenders from the north of our fair land is you will be entertained and as the bartenders started turning up at our home for the day Epernay, and the props and ingredients started to be unpacked there was no doubt this was going to be no exception.

Adam Binnersley from Mojo has a habit of picking number one out of the hat and once again he managed it, stepping behind the bar first. He certainly set the tone for the day with a presentation based on the little known fact (by fact we mean lie) that his mum is Bajan. She had rustled up a batch of her ‘world famous hot pepper sauce’ that was going to be a key ingredient in Adam’s drink.

Balancing spice in a cocktail is a skill that is often the undoing of competition serves but Adam took a novel approach to this by turning his homemade pepper sauce into a shrub and the resulting drink, with banana and cashew flavours added, was superb. He certainly set the tone for the day and the rest were up for the challenge.

Next up and at the other end of the competition experience spectrum was Will Owens from Rum House in Nottingham in his first ever competition. No matter how many times you practice a drink sometimes the gods are just against you on the day and in Will’s case science had decided it didn’t like him.

The Mount Gay was added to a small barrel and then grapefruit peel smoke was added to flavour it whilst the rest of the drink was prepared. When it came time to pour out the liquid from the barrel it had disappeared. Completely gone. The drink was made with straight Black Barrel instead and whilst still nice but we will definitely be checking out the real deal next time we’re in Nottingham.

Rum ‘n Sing

One of the most entertaining and original presentations we have seen in a long time came from Simon Taylor of 81 Ltd in Liverpool. Not only did he have the one liners ‘like any tiki drink it takes 2 minutes to make and 10 minutes to garnish’ but one of the best homemade drink making machines… well ever.

Liz and her lineage serve
Liz and her lineage serve

Apparently Simon had once been told by a 70 year old Bajan guy ‘If I ever see you mixing rum with anything other than music I’ll slap you’. Simon really took this to the next level building a kind of boombox that the drink sat on and when the music played the machine swizzled his drink for him. Pure gold.

Matt Soares from Cloud 23 took a more cerebral approach to his drink, in what he confided in us was going to be his last comp. He focused on the link between Manchester and Barbados through the historic cotton trade.

His presentation was great and took a step away from his normal serve style with a blended beauty with a cotton candy garnish (oh and a tourtoise). It tasted as good as it looked and took us right back to the beach in Barbados.

For Liars Club’s Elizabeth Ward it was the family lineage of Mount Gay that provided the inspiration for her drink Joseph’s Daughter. It was also one of the few drinks during the competition which incorporated local Bajan ingredient Mauby which we actually enjoyed. In was in the form of a spray which gave a hint of the flavours and aromas without it overpowering.

Liz was unlucky not to make the top two just being pipped out in an exceptionally strong heat. In the end it was Adam Binnersley and Matt Soares that booked their spot in Barbados for the grand final.

Unsurprisingly with Manchester the fun had only just begun and after a couple of celebratory drinks in Epernay we moved onto Crazy Pedro’s and Cane & Grain before BarLifeUK had to jump a train back leaving the Mount Gay gang to party late into the night.

Thanks to the guys at Epernay for looking after us and bringing some much needed food at just the right time. Well done to everyone who turned up to compete and thanks to all those that came to cheer them on. Next stop for Adam & Matt are sun-kissed beaches and rum shacks galore. Good luck boys.

Mama Knows Best
Mama Knows Best

Adam Binnersley – Mojo Manchester

Mama Knows Best

  • 60ml Mount Gay Black Barrel
  • 20ml banana and cashew nut syrup
  • 5ml hot pepper sauce shrub

Stirred in an old fashioned glass and garnished with a picture of Adams mum.

*banana and cashew syrup recipe – toast 200g cashews with salt at 50 degrees, in another pan add 6 bananas, 1kg caster sugar and 1ltr water, bring to boil and reduce by 50%. Combine, blend, strain.

*hot pepper sauce shrub recipe – reduce 200g caster sugar, 200ml malt vinegar and 25ml mama’s homemade hot pepper sauce to 50% volume.

Matt Soares – Cloud 23

Mr Mercers Cotton Peculiar
Mr Mercers Cotton Peculiar

Mr Mercers Cotton Peculiar

  • 50ml Mount Gay Black Barrel
  • 25ml passion fruit puree
  • 25ml homemade spiced syrup (cloves, cinnamon, vanilla pods, fennel seeds and star anise)
  • 2 scoops fine vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 scoop crushed ice

Blend and pour into a wine glass/goblet top with a splash of ginger beer. Garnish with fresh cotton candy on top of the glass.