Winners of Reyka Vodka's cocktail competition announced

Kate Malczewski

Kate Malczewski

10 September 2018

Reyka Vodka tasked an adventurous group of bartenders with capturing the spirit of Iceland in a cocktail – and it’s time to reveal the winners

After a summer of tireless travel, intense adventure and truly pioneering cocktails, Icelandic vodka brand Reyka has determined the winners of its latest bartending competition.

Brand ambassador Fabiano Latham, captured by Grant Anderson
Brand ambassador Fabiano Latham, captured by Grant Anderson

The Reyka Expedition saw brand ambassador Fabiano Latham harness the daring spirit of Iceland by cycling 1000km across the UK to discover the country’s most creative bartenders. The journey was undoubtedly a challenging one, but he prevailed thanks to the strength of the community that rallied around the competition. ‘I was overwhelmed by the support I received during the harder points of the cycle; it really spurred me on to finish the expedition,’ says Latham.

The intrepid ambassador stopped in no less than 10 cities to put some of the country’s top talent to the test. Competitors were asked to craft Icelandic-themed serves with Reyka, gathering inspiration from the geothermal energy and glacial spring water used in the distillation process. As an added twist, the cocktails also had to showcase vodka’s classic partner, the tomato, which is grown across Iceland using the same energy sources as Reyka’s distillation process.

Orchid, Aberdeen
Orchid, Aberdeen

Creativity rules the day
‘The calibre and variation of tomato-based Reyka Vodka cocktails was astounding,’ Latham says.

The entries were judged by a panel of experts and adventurers, including Reyka’s master distiller Thordur Sigurdsson and record-holding rower Jamie Sparks. The judges certainly had their work cut out for them, as the bartenders demonstrated an abundance of creativity in their serves. Each managed to highlight the crisp complexity of Reyka vodka through a variety of innovative ingredients and techniques – and there wasn’t a single Bloody Mary in sight. Still, only five regional champions could claim victory in the end.

The winners of the 2018 Reyka Vodka Expedition are Cal McMillan of Tabac in Glasgow; Elysa McGuire of Epicurus: Death and Taxes in Leeds; Rueben Clark of The Wilderness in Birmingham; Harry Cosmo Boardman of HMSS in Bristol; and Josh Powell of Ladies and Gents in London.

These inventive bartenders will get to take the trip of a lifetime to visit Iceland, home of stunning fjords, powerful volcanoes, arctic glaciers and, of course, Reyka Vodka.

The champions may be gearing up to enjoy their victory trip, but Latham knows that an adventurer never rests. He’s already preparing for the Reyka experiences that are yet to come.

‘Next year I’ll be bringing much more of this adventurous element of the Icelanders to the fore within the UK bar industry,’ says the brand ambassador. ‘Watch this Puffin.’

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