Tincup’s Year of the Barback has reached the moment of judgement. After its committee of industry heavyweights whittled entrants down to just eight barbacks – championed by their bar managers for a display of barback heroism – it was time for the finalists and their bar manager to face the ultimate barback challenge on Independence Day, 4 July.
An urban adventure and treasure hunt across London, starting at Imbibe Live and finishing at Cocktail Trading Co, awaited.
After meeting for a briefing at 11.30 sharp, the teams had to pick up items from an obscure shopping list, scrounge lemons (each one worth a vital five points) and collect body hair in a ziplock bag for the Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow challenge (the less said about that the better). These elements were optional, but the more the barback and bar manager collected, the more points they could accumulate.
Two compulsory challenges had to be completed throughout the day: The Psychic Challenge and Broke Box Mountain.
The former tested the barback’s ability to ‘read the mind of his/her fellow bar manager’, a vital skill for any barback in a busy, noisy bar environment. So, how did it work? The bar manager was given a set of 10 cards that included typical barback tasks – i.e. needing more ice or changing a barrel. The bar manager had to non-verbally communicate these requests to the barback who had to guess what was needed. 10 points were awarded for every card they managed to guess correctly in a 90 second time period.
When it came to Broke Box Mountain, barbacks had to breakdown 10 boxes as quickly as humanly possible. Points were awarded based on the time taken to complete the challenge.
Cocktail Trading Co
Mentally and physically wiped, the chosen eight arrived at Cocktail Trading Co, where they were told to hand over their shopping list items for point counting.
The points from the Shopping List, Scrounge a Lemon, Hair Today Gone Tomorrow and the two compulsory challenges were totted up.
Eight were then slashed to just four at the start of the semi-final. Only one challenge now stood in their way between victory and an all-expenses paid trip to Colorado.
Composure regained, the four teams had to step foot behind the hallowed Cocktail Trading Co bar for a ‘Hero Shift’. With 15 minutes to work alongside the bartending team, the semi-finalists had to display lightning reactions and support the Cocktail Trading Co team as they did their thing.
Committee members Elliot Ball of Cocktail Trading Co, Highballer's Chris Dennis and Gareth Canny of London Union were joined by Sara Pearce of Proximo Spirits to keep a watchful eye on the teams. Speed, communication, tidiness, execution and banter were all under scrutiny.
After much deliberation, barback Calum Currie and bartender Calum Adams of Barlounge, Chester were named the winners after amassing a whopping 1,888 points.
All the finalists and semi-finalists were given a bottle of Tincup Whiskey to take home and will participate in a professional photoshoot to appear in the 2018 Tincup Whiskey Hero the Barback calendar.
The two Calums are able to pack their bags for a trip to Colorado in November where they’ll get to visit the distillery, embark on a craft beer and SUV tour, stay in mountain lodges, visit the mining ghost town of Tin Cup and take part in outdoor adventuring.
Abbas Mandela Nourollahi and Carmel Healy, The Whiskey Jar, Manchester
Will Anderson and Jack Wakelin, Picture House Social, Sheffield (runner up)
Ste Boaden and Becky Grinton, Dusk Til Pawn, Manchester (runner up)
Antoine Dubois and Stephanie Dawson, El Gato Nero, Manchester
Calum Currie and Calum Adams, Barlounge, Chester (WINNERS)
Jack Burke and Michael Borland, The Five Points, Belfast
Danny Park and Ross Parker, Almost Famous GN, Manchester
Dario and Michal Kobza, Oblix, London (runner up)