Last week we were telling you you can't build a bar in a week... But you can in 24 hours, if the whole cocktail world's watching and you're competing against the greatest drinks cities in the world, it seems. On Saturday London proved it was the best bartending city in the world, after its Second Chances bar beat Paris, New York and Singapore in 24hr Bar Build.
The competition asked four teams of bartenders to create a concept for a bar built around a brand from the Bacardi Brown-Forman portfolio. Each bar was judged on its aesthetic, the quality and innovation of its drinks, and how well it captured the spirit of its city.
The London team, led by Duck & Waffle's Rich Woods, worked with Patrón Tequila and created a bar that combined a Mexican feel from cacti and distressed walls, with what looked like a hole in the wall revealing the London skyline.
The team, also made up of Iain Griffiths of Dandelyan, Sly Augustin of Trailer Happiness, Nathan Shearer of Callooh Callay, Luca Missaglia of Aqua and Andy Shannon of The London Edition Hotel, served a Negroni, a Green Sour, a tiki Walking Dead using three Patrón age statements, plus a non-alcoholic cocktail.
Second Chances took its name from tequila's position as a spirit that's sometimes frowned upon by consumers. 'It's about giving tequila a second chance [...] by demolishing the preconceptions of what tequila is,' said Woods. 'We want people to [leave] their hand prints on the wall as it takes 60 hands to make Patrón but loads more for a great night.'
The bar also focused on sustainability. Griffiths explained: 'We thought if we are asking consumers to give tequila a second chance, we wanted to give our waste a second chance too. We wanted to produce a zero waste bar or as close to zero waste as humanely possible.
'Patrón leads the industry in reducing the environmental impact of tequila production, they have a reverse osmosis system which allows them to reclaim water used in the production of tequila, which they then use in their cooling towers and to irrigate the fields. They also use the leftover agave fibre to create organic compost. And so we wanted to reflect all of that.'
Matthew Sykes, marketing director for Patrón Tequila, added: 'We couldn't be prouder of team London, they are a super group band of bartenders and have worked incredibly hard to devise a concept consumers love and deliver it in record timing. I have not seen a trade competition like this before that has focused on what really matters, delivering a great bar experience as well as great drinks to consumers. The reaction from guests tonight was amazing. London is a city that really loves its cocktails and has world-class bartenders to match, as seen tonight.'
Paris' Le Grand Bleu bar took second place, thanks to excellent entertainment and a giant disco ball. New York created a hip-hop club, while Singapore went for a Cuban boxing ring.
The London team wins tickets to New Orleans to attend Tales of the Cocktail next summer.