On 15 May, 35 of the nation’s top bartenders competed in a three-challenge showdown to test their prowess and palates. Naturally, all cocktail creations were made using brands from Diageo’s portfolio, including Ketel One, Ciroc, Bulleit and Don Julio – you know the ones.
The first task involved taking part in a guided workshop, then using the techniques to craft a new drink. The second was a speed round in which competitors had to whip up two classic cocktails and pour a Guinness in 119.5 seconds, which is apparently the amount of time it takes to pull the perfect pint according to very official science.
The competition was rounded off with a grand finale all to do with brunch (we don’t know if bacon was involved, but we can only hope). In this third and final round, contestants had to use standard household ingredients to create a drink and present it, talk show-style, to the judges.
Each contestant’s ultimate goal was to win a spot at the GB World Class final, which will be held in June in Edinburgh. After an impressive show from the competitors, the judges had their work cut out for them.
‘The level of talent in the competition was incredibly high this year, and it wasn’t an easy task to whittle down our top 35 bartenders to just 10 World Class finalists,’ said Stephen Martin, manager of Diageo Reserve World Class GB.
Of course, the judges managed to choose their top people in the end: Dave Hall of Terroir Tapas, Kieran Grieves of Bonbar, Georgia Billing of Sexy Fish, James Bowker of The Wilderness, Adam Day of Peggy’s Bar, Manachain Monaghan of Below Stairs, Luke Robinson of Cub, Daniel Warren of Last Chance, Daniel Bovey of Hyde & Co, and Cameron Attfield of Dandelyan have all been chosen to compete at the at the World Class GB final in June.
So what exactly will they compete for in the ultimate GB showdown? Aside from the title of 2018 Diageo Reserve World Class GB Bartender of the Year and the exposure that comes with it, the winner will receive a 12-month contract with the World Class team; a trip to Schiedam for a ‘culinary experience’ at the Ketel One Distillery; a malts advocate course with Dave Broom or Charles MacLean; the opportunity to guest bartend in top bars in three European countries; a £300 Cocktail Kingdom kit voucher; a professional industry photoshoot; and the chance to compete in Berlin at the World Class Global Finals 2018 against winners from other countries. And breathe.
This competition is nowhere near over – stay tuned for more challenges to come.