It's been a busy few weeks for our industry, with convents, cocktail weeks and some exciting competitions taking place. We've rounded up the most recent winners to get you up to speed.
Amber Blood wins Britvic's Pepsi Max
Bang in the midst of London Cocktail Week, Amber Blood of everyone's favourite party bar, the London Cocktail Club, was crowned winner of Britvic's Pepsi Max cocktail competition.
The brief was to create a twist on a Cuba Libre (using Pepsi Max, of course) and to create an original cocktail using Britvic brands.
Blood's She's My Cherry, a combination of Bacardi, Pepsi Max, Cherry Heering, lime, vanilla and chocolate bitters came out on top. Her original cocktail Ginger Ninja used Britvic Ginger Ale, Gosling's rum, Finlandia Vodka, Wray and Nephew Rum and lemon.
'I took my inspiration for She’s My Cherry from the flavour profile of Pepsi Max, choosing ingredients which I knew would complement it; chocolate, cherry and cola work well together and I’m delighted that the judges agreed,' gushed Blood. 'Ginger Ninja was developed when I was feeling a bit poorly – the combination of ginger and lemon is a perfect pick-me-up and it tastes fantastic!'
Only bartending for seven months, Blood has won herself an all-expenses paid trip for two to Ibiza Rocks in 2018...
Aiste Valiukaite – Funkin's new Innovation Champion
Bagging herself a year-long contract with syrups, purees and mixers brand Funkin, Original Sin's Aiste Valiukaite was named this year's Funkin Innovation Champion.
At a fierce final at TT Liquor in Shoreditch, syrups and purees went flying as three rounds got underway. First, they were tasked with presenting their innovative concept. Second, to recreate their entry cocktail. Last but not least, make a surprise cocktail using Funkin's new Apricot Puree.
After all that, it was Valiukaite's innovative idea of a range of nut syrups, and her two cocktails, Berry Cake and Blaine Road that won her the role (worth £6,000), and a neat £500 cash prize.
Taking place at the start of London Cocktail Week, she also had Berry Cake – a raspberry cheesecake-inspired serve – sold at Funkin's stand.
'Funkin Innovation Championship is a unique competition that provides bartenders with a platform to develop and present the idea for a whole new product, a product which would be a great addition to our industry,' said Valiukaite on her win. 'I believe it is a great opportunity to combine creative and business-forward ideas.'
Rhys Wilson scoops The Next Whisky Cocktail Classic top title
Wowing judges at the inaugural Next Whisky Cocktail Classic grand final, Rhys Wilson of Happiness Forgets wowed with his Claymore cocktail.
Taking place at The Whisky Show, the competition aims to find the next classic Scotch whisky cocktail, allowing bartenders to challenge themselves and get really creative.
Wilson’s Claymore, a blend of 45ml Chivas Regal 12yo and 15ml champagne cordial, was described by himself as ‘a delicate Scotch Gimlet’. Co-founder of Speciality Drinks, Sukhinder Singh headed up the panel of drinks journalist Alice Lascelles, Matt Whiley of Scout and bartending legend Brian Silva.
'Simplicity is key and this is a cocktail that most bartenders would be happy to replicate, it’s certainly something I would try,' commented judge Silva. 'And it’s just the beginning for the future of champagne cordial!'
His prize? Wilson won himself a trophy, of course, along with a case of 12 whiskies specially chosen by the Speciality Drinks team. We've heard it was worth around £2,500 and included Chivas Regal Ultis, Laphroaig 20yo Masterpiece, Glenfarclas 25yo and Ardbeg Supernova... we're not jealous at all!
If you're kicking yourselves for not entering, then keep up to date with entry deadlines at our comps page.