Yesterday, following a prosecco-soaked battle on Centre Stage at Imbibe Live, the bartenders took home the eternal bragging rights for having won the 11th and final Bartenders v Sommeliers (BvS) competition.
Sommeliers: The Viña Coladas
Quentin Loisel, Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms
Mattia Mazzi, The River Café
Charles Pashby-Taylor, Justerini & Brooks
Romain de Courcy, Trade Soho
Gergely Barsi Szabó, Bibendum
Bartenders: The Team Formerly Known as Bartenders
Georgia Billing, City of London Distillery and Bar
Will Hawes, Callooh Callay
Jordan Moore, Trullo
Gergő Muráth, Trailer Happiness
Robyn Wilkie, Genuine Liquorette
The inimitable Craig Harper (on-trade manager at Fever-Tree) hosted the showdown, introducing the judging panel – wine consultant Nigel Lister, B&H Buildings’ Jim Wrigley and NoMad’s Pietro Collina – and getting the enthralled audience up to speed on the competition thus far. Off the back of the semi-final round, The Team Formerly Known as Bartenders were in the lead as the day’s challenges got underway.
As per BvS tradition, the first round consisted of a magnum pour. The somms unsurprisingly nailed it, with Justerini & Brooks’ Charles Pashby-Taylor elegantly and effortlessly dividing his magnum between 16 flutes – though the bartenders’ representative, Gergő Muráth of Trailer Happiness, also made a valiant effort.
Next up, the dreaded champagne cascade. Trullo’s Jordan Moore and Bibendum’s Gergely Barsi Szabó faced off, stacking coupettes with laser-sharp focus. Szabo built his coupette tower and poured with panache, but it all came crashing down on the dismount. Meanwhile, Moore managed to construct a sturdy tower of three coupettes – but three is, of course, two short of the required stack of five (we can do maths!). The judges ultimately ruled Szabo the winner, allowing the somms to make up significant ground.
Finally, it was time for the mystery box cocktail challenge. Both teams were tasked with using a variety of weird and wacky ingredients to craft a rum punch.
The somms delivered a gripping performance as they crafted their decidedly high-concept Walk Through an English Garden cocktail, complete with rum in a watering can. However, the bartenders ended up winning this last round with their flamingo-inspired Put Our Foot Down punch, which impressed the judges with its well-balanced flavour profile.
This final victory was enough to land the bartenders the overall win. Equipped with their trophy and the privilege of gloating for the rest of time, they sailed off to celebrate with their comrades.