A series of regional heats culminated in two bartenders taking top spot in yesterday’s Four Pillars Australian [Gin] Open, and earning themselves a trip to Australia to produce a gin of their own.
Joseph Brown of Lady Libertine in Edinburgh and Tom Hughes of Hide Below in London competed against four other bartenders at Imbibe Live yesterday, ultimately winning the trip to the home of Four Pillars Gin.
For his cocktail, entitled Captain Cook’s Endeavour, Hughes drew on his experience of living and working in Australia, as well as finding inspiration from the ship captain’s famous trip. A pea soda represented the origin of the journey, England, with a vanilla syrup for Tahiti, while Four Pillars itself represented Cook’s stop in Australia. Judges wore various nautical props provided by Hughes, including squid-related headgear for co-founder Stuart Gregor.
Brown, in a kilt, meanwhile dedicated his drink, Paid Fourward, to his fellow bartenders. ‘We spend a lot more time with our bar families than we do with our real families,’ he explained. He combined Four Pillars with Martini Riserva Speciale Ambrato, grapefruit sherbet and more, serving the finished cocktail in a traditional Scottish quaich.
The four other finalists were Adam Smith of Jake's Bar & Still Room in Leeds, Kylie Shannon of One Percent Forest in Liverpool, and Alice Morrissey of Panda & Sons.
Gregor described the decision-making process with fellow judges Nate Brown and Eleonora Biason, last year’s winner, as ‘agreeably contentious’ – the culmination of more than 100 entries.
In addition to creating their own gin with Four Pillars, Hughes and Brown will spend a week in Australia with the brand, visiting Melbourne and Sydney, and dining at Icebergs at Bondi Beach.