With sherry being a firm bartender favourite, it was no surprise that competition for the title of Tio Pepe Challenge UK champion was fiercer than ever this year.
Beating out 10 other competitors from around the country at Hush Mayfair, Cameron Moncaster of Waeska at the Mandrake Hotel was crowned the 2018 national winner.
In some intense rounds of competition, finalists were tested on both theory and practice, including the use of the traditional venencia implement, as well as creating a sherry cocktail. Judging them on their skills and knowledge was panel that included the Mandrake's Walter Pintus, cocktail expert and bartender Stuart Hudson and González Byass' Boris Ivan.
Moncaster will go onto compete with other winners from around the world at the International Grand Final in Jerez during the world-famous Feria de Jerez next month. He will go head-to-head with the winners from Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Australia, China, USA, Germany, Spain, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Italy for a chance to be crowned overall winner of this year’s International Tio Pepe Challenge.
Organised by leading Spanish producer González Byass, the annual cocktail competition takes place in 14 countries, seeing over 400 entrants apply. This year, UK entrants included those from top industry bars such as Bar Swift, Quaglino's, Galvin at the Windows and sherry-focused Sack.
'This year’s competition was of an extremely high standard and it was very difficult to choose a winner as all the participants demonstrated their passion for Tio Pepe,' said Ivan on the level of competition. 'However, Cameron’s knowledge of the González Byass sherry range, his venencia technique and exceptional cocktail presentation made him stand out as the UK winner. He will go on to represent all of the UK bartenders in the international final this May in Jerez.'