No. 209 Gin Duel Winners Headed for San Francisco

Two UK bartenders will be mixing cocktails in California after seeing off strong competition to win the London final of the No. 209 Gin Duel.

BarLifeUK is always happy to head to Graphic bar and doubly so when Hi-Spirits are there with No.209 Gin. The occasion was the final of the No.209 Gin Duel competition which saw nine top bartenders competing to visit the home of No. 209 Gin San Francisco and the Napa Valley region in March next year.

No 209 Gin Duel Alessandro Paludet
Alessandro in full flow

In a format which used the brand name at every given opportunity (even starting at 2:09) each competitor had 209 seconds to make and serve their winning aperitif-style cocktail from the Gin Duel heats. The second round saw them given another 209 seconds to create a new cocktail from a selection of mystery ingredients including fresh herbs, fruit and flavoured liqueurs.

In this particular duel it was London bartenders which came out on top with the winners being:

  • Ian Goodman, bartender at Oxo Tower, SE1
  • Alessandro Paludet, of 22 Below, W1

The finalists’ cocktails all used No.209 Gin, distilled San Francisco, as a base. They were judged on the taste of the cocktail, as well as their presentation skills and product knowledge. To add to the pressure, the judging panel at Graphic was chaired by the creator of No.209 Gin, master distiller Arne Hillesland who said:

“It was great to see No.209 inspire such passion and flair among UK bartenders.  What was interesting was the emphasis on different cocktail styles, such as the aperitif. We don’t see that so much in the US, and it shows a real attention to detail. It was a very tough contest to judge.”

Joining Arne on the judging panel were award winning bartender Jamie Stephenson, Gin.209 brand manager Wendi Webster, Graphic Bar manager Sarah Mitchell and Hi-Spirits very own Ian Bayliss.

No 209 Gin Duel Ian Goodman
Ian is a picture of concentration

Ian Goodman shared a little behind the scenes competitor gossip after his win: “There was such a wide range of drinks created in the competition, it was hard for all of us to gauge how we’d done. I’m delighted to have won.”

The winners trip will include a final duel of gin-mixing ability at Presse restaurant in Napa Valley, home of the No.209 cocktail. Sounds good doesn’t it? Want to join them? Well good news folks you still can.

Two more bartenders have the chance to join the Gin Duel finalists in San Francisco through a new sales incentive launched by Hi-Spirits. The two bars which sell the most No.209 Gin between 2.09am on December 1 2010 and 2.09 am on March 1 2011 each win a place for a member of staff in the trip to San Francisco – provided, course, they sell a minimum of 20.9 litres. To register, email

To stock No.209 Gin, please contact Hi-Spirits on 01932 252 100, email, or see the Hi-Spirits website.