The final, held at creative hub Crucible in London, saw six mixologists shake and stir their hearts out in front of a panel of judges, which included Crucible founder Stuart Bale; Aiste Valiukaite, Funkin Innovation Champion 2017, and Imbibe’s very own Clinton Cawood.
Shaun Hall, Vice & Co
Jack Selby, Riverside Bar & Kitchen
Horace Buckenham, Gravetye Manor Hotel
Romeo Manasturean, Bluebird Café
Fabrizio Donno, Aqua Shard
Ben Howells, Popolo City Bar
This last round of the championship took place in three parts. First, the bartenders were challenged with creating a unique Funkin cocktail. Next, they got the opportunity to use Crucible’s state-of-the-art lab equipment, taking part in a ‘flavour immersion session’ with Stuart Bale and Geoff Robinson.
Finally, they were asked to put their skills to the test in a surprise challenge. Each bartender was given 10 minutes and £10 to buy props from a nearby party shop to accompany their second original cocktail.
Judged on the basis of creativity, flavour combinations, ‘Funkin knowledge’ and presentation skills, Hall’s final cocktail particularly impressed the judges. His drink, dubbed Waking Reality, married Funkin Pro strawberry purée and Funkin Pro jalapeño syrup.
‘Shaun showed superb Funkin product knowledge and tied it in excellently with his presentation,’ said Bale.
Glass: Old Fashioned
‘His drinks tasted great and his inspiration was tangible. He performed consistently well across both rounds and used the equipment in our lab to make his final drink, which was versatile and incredibly easy-drinking.’
For Hall, a bartender and biology student, the championship was a platform for teaching and learning.
‘My approach to bartending is very experimental and the Funkin Innovation Championship really facilitated this expression of creativity,’ he said.
‘My goal is to educate people about unusual flavour combinations and change their perceptions about certain pairings. Waking Reality is a refreshing cocktail that provides an education of flavour, strictly through the palate. I am humbled to have claimed the title of Funkin Innovation Champion 2018.’