Three of the UK's best cocktail cities came together to fight it out in Shakes and the City and establish who's top at the close of Imbibe Live. Taking to the Centre Stage in various team outfits and managing to handle Ian Burrell's fast and loose compering with style, all the teams really brought their A-game.
First up was Birmingham, aka The Cheeky Blinders, who really went to town talking about Birmingham's many famous creations and characters. Their drink incorporated chocolate- and custard-flavoured Langley's No. 8 gin, a curry spice infused wine liqueur and mango lassi tincture. The result was a very complex Martinez twist that judge Thomas Aske described as a 'taste sensation'.
Team Leicester warmed hearts with their incredibly well thought-through drink and presentation. They looked to Narlborough Road, the most multicultural city in the UK, for their drink, Cheek by Jowl. Having gone out into the community and conducted painstaking research, they served a Gimlet twist containing Burleigh's Gin, locally foraged nettle syrup and lemon thyme. In a heartwarming touch, they got other bartenders from Leicester to hold up a chain of flags from other countries across the audience while they presented, and served their drink with lots of specially created snacks. 'I loved the effort that these guys put in, there's a lot of heart in there,' said judge Laura Foster of their entry.
Last but not least, London took to the stage decked in tiki shirts. They took inspiration from the Thames and the amount of spices that would flood the city, and created a Daiquiri twist with Plantation Pineapple, lime juice, sugar syrup and the Weird Beard Mariana Trench beer. The beer was a great addition, lifting the fruity characteristics of the rum. Judge Monica Berg was impressed with their drink, saying 'It may be a simple recipe, but it really works.'
It was a really close call, but eventually it was decided that Birmingham were the champions of Shakes and the City, taking the title home to the Midlands.
The teams were...
Birmingham: James Bowker (The Edgbaston), Chris Bellingham (The Kenilworth Hotel), Samuel Bolton (The Bureau)
Leicester: Kal Ruparell (33 Cank Street), Xander Driver (The Attic), Charlotte Wood (Blue Orchid)
London: Chris Tanner (Milk & Honey), Matt Uden (Shrub & Shutter), Fabiano Latham (Chotto Matte)