The second heat of Shakes & the City 2019 took place in Scotland last week as teams from Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen converged on Panda & Sons in Edinburgh to determine which city would be going through to the final at Imbibe Live.
This year’s challenge is to create a drink inspired by a famous event in a team’s home city, something that this heat’s challengers did with aplomb.
Dundee stepped behind the stick first, paying homage to the Tay Bridge disaster of 1879, where the bridge collapsed during a huge storm, causing a train to crash and killing everyone onboard.
This cheery tale was regaled by Sarah Berardi from Draffens of Dundee, The King of Islington’s Dimis Savvaidis and Turtle Higgins of Bird & Bear, who cleverly linked their drink back to the disaster through a giant pear tree near Lindores Abbey that had been blown over in the same storm.
They presented a highball of Lindores Abbey with a pear cordial, fresh pressed apple juice, fresh pressed citrus and a soda top, producing a refreshing drink with a rich, malty base thanks to the Lindores.
Hosts Edinburgh were up next, and Kin’s Jody Buchan, Sian Buchan from Panda & Sons and Paul Donegan of Royal Dick Bar sidestepped the ‘obvious’ choice of the first Edinburgh Fringe Festival to celebrate the opening of the Golden Wonder crisp factory in 1947.
Inspired by salt and vinegar crisps, they mixed the local Pickering’s Gin – whose recipe was also created in 1947 – with a Sauvignon Blanc white wine vinegar, homemade raspberry shrub, oloroso sherry and saline solution, served straight up with a Tangy Toms crisps salt garnish. It was an austere, boozy affair, and to top it off their cocktail name drew groans from the crowd as Jody announced it: Tater’s Gonna Tate.
Aberdeen brought up the rear, and Bar 99’s Cameron Woodger and Sean Moggach took everyone to a rather surreal place, celebrating the 2012 incident whereby a man called William Middleton got his head stuck in a bin and made international news.
Having apparently ‘interviewed’ Middleton to find out what he saw whilst stuck in the bin and basing their drink, Big Willie, upon these discarded items, they made a tiki drink consisting of used coffee grounds infused in Chivas Regal, a used citrus cold-infusion cordial, a citrus stock, aquafaba and tepache, before garnishing it with a humongous banana leaf.
The judges retired to deliberate the closely fought comp, with each arguing in favour of the different teams on many different points.
‘Aberdeen’s presentation was completely surreal, but I thought their drink was a really enjoyable tiki cocktail,’ opined Julian de Feral, while Mojo’s Sam Fish declared that she’d drunk a lot of both Edinburgh and Dundee’s entries without realising, ‘which must be a good sign,’ she laughed.
‘I thought Dundee’s presentation was really well put together and researched, and the way they linked all the ingredients back to the event, right down to a pear tree being knocked down in a storm, was impressive,’ thought Imbibe’s Laura Foster.
After much deliberation, it was agreed that Dundee triumphed with their theatrical presentation and refreshing fruity, malty highball. They’ll face Birmingham and two other teams at the final of Imbibe Live on Centre Stage on 2 July.
Meanwhile, the competition rolls into Manchester for the northern heats next…