Northern Heat – Gin Mare Mediterranean Inspirations Comp

With two spots down and three to go we headed to Manchester to see who would be getting onto the plane to Ibiza with the chance to win £4,500.

The downstairs bar at Kosmonaut Bar in Manchester’s Northern Quarter has happy memories for me, being the location of my epic table-tennis victories against Jamie Jones and Yan ‘Iain’ McPherson. But with the table cleared away and the bar the focus, only one of the 12 finalists in the Northern heat would share my warm fuzzy feeling for the venue.

Jamie’s a sucker for an usual serve

Up for grabs was not only blagging rights amongst some of the North’s finest bartenders but also a seat on the plane to Ibiza at the end of August for the UK Final and the chance to represent the UK in the global final the following day with a £4,500 top prize. There is also the little matter of a few days of partying in Ibiza to add to the mix.

With that in mind it was no surprise that the competitors pulled out all the stops with some of the most original serves I have ever seen in a cocktail competition.

The judging panel was made up of the marvelously moustachioed Stuart Ekins from CASK Liquid Marketing, Joe Caro from Gin Mare, Laura Foster from Imbibe and BarLifeUK.

The Drinks

The people from the north of our fine land are renowned for their sense of humour (or so they tell me every time I go up there) and there was certainly some firmly tongue in check presentations from the assembled crowd.

Kicking us off was Matthew Hastings from Sheffield who, despite some nerves, got the competition off to a really strong start. His first drink (each competitor having to make one drink inspired by the Mediterranean and one twist on a Dirty Martini) was nicely tied together by a story of Romans conquering the Med many moons ago.

Manchester’s Jamie Jones won the serve of the day award when, despite an aversion to seafood, served his ‘Inspired’ drink under a glass bell with a whole octopus on top! The chat for his second drink revolved around the fact last time he used the machine in his hand he nearly forgot to put the sponsors liquid in. He was so intent on telling us the story he nearly forgot to put the sponsors liquid in!!!

The following presentations included a musically themed 24 hours in Ibiza through the medium of the cocktail from Chester’s Paul Murphy. A superbly creative serve from Liverpool based Laurie Eaton (who took third place), which also was very different in style from the other drinks and tasted fantastic.

Laurie’s superb looking and tasting drink

Another local boy Tim Laferia (placing second) produced a great looking and great tasting twist on the Red Snapper (all be it a green one) which was particularly useful to a couple of my fellow judges who had been out in Manchester the night before – enough said….

In the end it was a Leeds based competitor who ensured another of the North’s top female bartenders was representing the area over in Ibiza, as Mojo’s Sam Fish produced two very strong drinks and superb presentations to impress the judging panel (be wary if Sam offers you a Mezcal soaked olive… you have been warned!). Sam’s winning drinks are below.

I would like to give a huge thanks to all the competitors on the day, it was great to see bartenders coming from across the area with Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Chester, Nottingham, Burton On Trent and Sheffield all being represented. It goes to show just how strong this neck of the UK is when it comes to great bars and great bartenders knocking out superb drinks.

Also a thank you to Gin Mare for putting on this fantastic comp and keeping everyone topped up with G&T’s, and Chris and his team at Kosmonaut for being such fantastic hosts (and a particular thanks to Chris for the Oysters and Prawns in his drinks presentation), next time your in Manchester be sure to pop in a chack the bar out..

Sam and her winning Dirty Martini Twist

Next on the Gin Mare Mediterranean tour is Edinburgh followed by the final heat in London. There is still time to enter so get involved for your chance to join us in Ibiza and grab £4.5K right here.

Sam Fish – Mojo, Leeds

Dry Martini Twist – Immundo Martini

50ml Gin Mare
25ml grapefruit and pink peppercorn infused Vya extra dry vermouth
Olives soaked in Illegal Mezcal

Mediterranean Inspiration – Ocean Sour

40ml Gin Mare
10ml Manzanilla
10ml Yellow Chartreuse
25ml lemon juice
10ml cane syrup
30ml honeydew melon juice
Egg white

Garnished with a basil leaf and a Yellow Chartreuse and Manzanilla spray.