Bartenders rule the day at the Bartenders v Sommeliers 2018 final

Drinks: Drinks
Location: UK
Other: Competitions

In one of the most surprising upsets in Imbibe Live history, after a dangerously close semi-final, the bartenders smashed the sommeliers and snatched a resounding victory at the final of Bartenders v Sommeliers (BvS).

BvS – which sees a team of bartenders pitted against sommeliers, with each group showing off their mastery of the other profession’s techniques – was kicked off by host Craig Harper who introduced the infamous job-swapping competition, now in its 10th year. After welcoming the teams, Harper then moved over to the judges for opening comments on what they expected from the day’s challenges.

‘Chaos. Total chaos. Nothing else,’ remarked one. ‘I expect something to break, something to not break, and to break my tastebuds,’ predicted another.

Tonic Wine
Luke Robinson, Cub
Jess Hellicar, Satan’s Whiskers
Kris Grimes, Milk & Honey
Georgia Billing, Sexy Fish
CAPTAIN: Gergő Muráth, Devil’s Darling

The Grand Crew
Timothy Connor,
Heddon Street Kitchen
Aurel Istrate, The Connaught
Euan McColm, Beaverbrook
CAPTAIN: Melody Wong, Ten Trinity Square Private Club

The judges’ predictions promptly came true. Granted, the first round, in which captains Gergő Muráth and Melody Wong had to evenly divide a magnum between 16 glasses, was a more measured chaos, with both teams keeping their composure even as the bartenders nailed the round.

But things soon spiralled in the Cascade challenge, with somm Euan McColm acing his pour only to knock over two of the five glasses in a sad twist of fate.

Bartender Kris Grimes, on the other hand, managed to pour his cascade and drink it too – all five glasses of champagne remained intact, and he passed them out to the audience with panache.

Round three was the most raucous nail-biter of the bunch. Both teams had five minutes to prepare a punch using ingredients from a shared mystery box and Penny Blue Rum. The somms took a fruity route with a drink they called Millionaire’s Punch, while the bartenders chose to use everything AND the kitchen sink – literally. They served their batch out of an old metal sink, complete with a bottle of Fairy liquid on the side.

Though the competition was close enough to induce at least moderate amounts of anxiety (within 10 points!), the bartenders ultimately ruled the day and tied up the competition – meaning in ten years the bartenders and somms have won five times each.

Who will break the tie next year? Only time will tell…

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