There were tears and laughter last night as the eight regional finalists in the Bacardí Legacy UK competition battled it out to be chosen as one of the three most promising.
The great and the good from the UK drinks industry gathered at the old Central Saint Martins building near Holborn to support the contenders (and sip freely from a flowing Daiquiri fountain).
At the end of a very long evening (and incredibly closely fought competition), Iain Griffiths from Dandelyan, Santiago Michelis from Happiness Forgets and Oliver Pluck from The East Village in Leeds emerged victorious.
They now go on to market their drink over the coming months with the aim of elevating it to classic status and winning the chance to represent the UK in San Francisco at the global finals next year.
Pluck’s drink, Amistat, was inspired by Barack Obama and Raul Castro’s meeting this year to improve relations between America and Cuba, and was created to celebrate friendship and peace. It was serious stuff, containing Bacardí Carta Oro, amontillado sherry, some Woodford Reserve, coffee liqueur and chocolate bitters.
Argentinian bartender Michelis announced that his drink was a tribute ‘to everyone that left home and everything behind for a dream’, drawing parallels between his family and the Bacardi family, who both left Europe for South America. He was cheered on by family who’d flown over from Argentina as he mixed The Knot, with Bacardí Carta Blanca, mandarin juice, lemon juice, honey syrup and Martini Bitter.
Finally, Griffiths announced that ‘a true legacy starts in the hands of those who work the hardest’, before presenting his Carta Switchel, inspired by a recipe he found in the 1853 Domestic Cooking & Economy Kitchen Guide. He explained that a switchel is equal parts sugar, spice, vinegar and water, taking its origin from the sugarcane farmers in the Caribbean, and ‘is the very first rum swizzle that came about’. He mixed up Carta Oro with apple vinegar, Fernet-Branca, grapefruit juice, sugar syrup and Angostura bitters to create a long, refreshing drink.
‘Huge congratulations to all the bartenders who competed in the UK final of Bacardí Legacy, the standard was once again incredibly high,' said Metinee Kongsrivilai, Bacardí UK brand ambassador. ‘However there can only be three most promising and Iain, Oli and Santi not only showed off their mixing skills, but the stories behind their cocktails also showcased great imagination. It’s going to be great to see the guys show their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit as they get the marketing campaigns for their Legacy cocktails underway in the next few months.’
Good luck to the final three for the coming months of competition ahead of the UK final in March 2016.
Pictured top, L-R: Griffiths, Pluck, Michelis