Last week saw myself invited down to judge once again a cocktail competition with a difference. Hosted within 1812 Lounge Bar in Bournemouth, De Kuyper were supporting the UKBG and their Mystery Box competition semi-final, which saw 20 bartenders from across the south coast of England battle it out, yet having no idea what their recipe would be.
Essentially, each bartender drew a number upon their arrival, with the number corresponding with an unopened hamper, filled during the day with 6 ingredients. Only being able to use 4 of the 6, as well as any of the De Kuyper expressions, including Lemongrass and Lapsang Souchong, and a further sponsored spirit from a range such as Conker gin, Evan Williams bourbon and Remy Martin cognac.
With 10 minutes time-limit, the hamper opens and each bartender has to come up with a winning recipe using their knowledge, skill and presentation skills to impress the judges (myself, James Fowler, 2014 UK winner of World Class, and Paul Curry, brand manager of De Kuyper). Not always easy ingredients though, as some found out that they may need to use rather irregular brands such as tomato ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard alongside their chosen two base spirits!
It’s odd to say that I have tried a mayonnaise foam upon a cocktail.
10 bartenders would go through to the final, set to be next week in Bournemouth. Here’s a sneak peek at the lineup –
Niall Percival competing for Remy Martin 1738
Tommo Quy competing for Jinzu Gin
Cameron Moncaster competing for Conker Dorset Dry Gin
Andy Hardwick competing for Evan Williams extra aged
Gemma Terry competing for Evan Williams extra aged
Dave Hall competing for Flor de Cana 4yo
Luke Sheppard competing for 3 Barrels Brandy
Joe Prout competing for Tarquin Gin
Johnny Brissenden competing for Casamigo Tequila Blanco
Sarah Owens competing for Cinzano 1757
Now, the above have impressed so far with some innovative drinks, but they have to sweep that away and work alongside their given brand (drawn randomly) to be in with a chance of the star prize, whilst also incorporating De Kuyper in their serve and brushing up on their knowledge of the Schiedam brand.
I’ll let you know how it goes, I’m on the judging panel!
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