Now in its third year, Imbibe‘s Shakes & the City competition sets out to determine which city in the UK is the best for cocktails, and the whole thing came rumbling to a grand climax on Centre Stage at the end of Imbibe Live.
Three tough heats were held in Manchester, where Sheffield triumphed; in Edinburgh, where the home team won; and London, where the team representing North and East London got through.
And so it was that the three finalists came together at Centre Stage at Imbibe Live to close the show and determine which is the best cocktail city in the UK in 2018.
Compere Jake Burger shepherded proceedings along masterfully, while all three teams made the drinks they created for a famous face from their city.
Team Sheffield (Jack Wakelin, Rebecca Ladyman and Lydia Jennings) took the floor first, recreating their cocktail for Dame Jessica Ennis, a fruity gin number with rhubarb, grapefruit and lemon that incorporated vermouth – with the fresh fruit for the athlete’s healthy diet and the vermouth to represent her love of Italian food.
Edinburgh (Sian Buchan, Lachlan Rooney and Jemma Scarr) had taken on the dastardly duo Burke & Hare, mass murderers who used to sell their victim’s bodies to Edinburgh University for medical research.
Serving their sharing drink in a skull glass and incorporating ingredients stolen from all over Auld Reekie – ‘just like Burke & Hare stole their victim’s lives’ – the finishing touch was an ice block complete with tied Barbie legs frozen into it. Macabre.
Bringing up the rear was North & East London (Sam Boevey, Amber Blood and Thibaud Bichet), comprising a team of London Cocktail Club bartenders. With a big supporting crowd yelling ‘One, Two, Three!…’ they transported everyone to the Blind Beggar pub, where Ronnie Kray had murdered George Cornell.
Creating a drink that looked like a half-pint of stout as a way of psychologically profiling the Kray twins, they’d kegged their entry and poured plenty to hand out amongst the thirsty crowd.
The esteemed judging panel of Philip Duff, Ryan Chetiyawardana, Roy Evans of competition sponsors FMV and Imbibe‘s Laura Foster huddled to discuss the entries, but in the end, it was Team Edinburgh who triumphed, on the strength of their delicious drinks and highly entertaining presentation.
‘We’re delighted to win,’ enthused Buchan. ‘The competition was really tough. We’re just happy to represent our city and come down to Imbibe Live for the final.’
The winning team walk away with a £1,000 prize and a bottle of No 3 gin to toast their success.
Many thanks to FMV for sponsoring this year’s Shakes & the City and the huge amount of No 3 they gave that greased proceedings in the heats – it wouldn’t have been possible without you.