Ultimate Bartender Championship Update

Monkey Shoulder’s epic road trip across the UK to find the top 5 Ultimate Bartenders reaches its conclusion this weekend, we take a look at what’s happened so far.

Over the last week we have visited the Bristol and first London heats of the UBC and can tell you Monkey Shoulder aren’t using the word Ultimate lightly. It really is about as tough as it gets.

Neave holding everyones attention.....
Neave holding everyones attention…..

The look on experienced and knowledgable bartenders faces after the quiz round is one of abject terror, and that’s only the first round of seven. The quiz involves 100 multiple choice questions fired out at rapid speed by Brand Am-bad-assador Grant Neave, in fact he aims to get through all 100 questions in 18 minutes.

From there they have the Mixiodic Table round where a drink style periodic table is used to give the ingredients of a series of cocktails, simply figure out the ingredients and name the cocktail. We use the word simply lightly, we gave it a go in Bristol and our head exploded after approximately 2 minutes.

From there the bartenders are divided into groups for the next four challenges.

Pouring Test – A series of pours which can be done either free or with jiggers but with a margin of error of only 1ml, oh and there is 95 seconds to do it.
Tray Service – Orders taken and drinks served to 10 people. Drinks must be served to the right people with women being served first, clockwise, before the men. All up against the clock.
Nosing – 10 spirits to be nosed only. Write down the spirit category and the brand for full points. The kicker? You have to do it all in 2 minutes.
Stock Take – 10 bottles containing different amounts of liquid, figure out how much is left (to one decimal point) and then figure out the wholesale value of the remaining stock. In a rare moment of generosity calculators are allowed.

It’s exhausting just writing it down, thankfully on the day there were a few Monkey Shoulder drinks knocking about to help calm the nerves and give an energy boost.

Once the bartenders have congratulated each other for making it through and compared notes on where they think they have buggered it up the top three are announced.

In Bristol the successful three were Chelsie Bailey, Daniel Bovey and Lee Champion. In Central London it was James Drummond, Erik Holmberg and Pierre Bisson. Each of these six then had to compete in the Round Building challenge, 8 drinks in under 5 minutes served with garnishes and bev naps. Fastest time wins with 15 seconda added on for any drinks that wouldn’t be paid for.

In London Stuart Hudson who has been on the road overseas with Dean Callan was on hand to show how it could be done. He knocked them all out in 2:20, 4 seconds quicker than anyone else had managed (Dave White from Brighton is officially the quickest in the world currently with 2:24 – video below). Unfortunately Stu forgot to serve them on napkins and was therefore disqualified, bad luck Hudson.

Chelsie knocking out the drinks
Chelsie knocking out the drinks

Top Of The Charts

With UBC however you are not just competing with those in your heat but also with the whole country. The top five scores across the country will be winning the amazing prize of a trip to Tales of the Cocktail to battle it out for the ultimate prize of their own pop-up at London Cocktail Week.

There is one, mega-sized, heat left at Loves Company on Sunday which could easily see a change to the top of the table but currently the UK’s top five looks like this:

  1. Jonathan Arthur, Aberdeen
  2. Dave White, Brighton
  3. Nick Gordon, Aberdeen
  4. Chelsie Bailey, Bristol
  5. Cameron Woodger, Aberdeen

So it is up to London to see if they can break Aberdeen’s hold on the top spots in the country and more importantly to see if they can get the UK to the top of the Global Leaderboard, where Jonathan currently sits in 5th place.

We have been given a sneak preview of some of the proposed challenges the top five will be facing in New Orleans and we can tell you there will be no letting up. However with a prize that could easily be worth £20K to the winner that is no surprise.

Good luck to all those competing on Sunday and if you want to go along and watch grown bartenders cry then feel free to head down to Loves Company after 3pm.