So…what can I say?
To say the the standard of drinks was doubled this year would be an understatement.
So here were the rounds:
Remy Martin 1738 - reinvent the long cognac cocktail, taking into account seasonality and current drinking trends.
This already put our competitors on their A-game. Ask any bartender and a long cognac drink, isn’t exactly the most ordered thing on the planet.
Bols Genever “House Party” Round - Blindly chose 2 ingredients to make your drink.
This is how you test a bartender. Give him some random ingredients like, oh I don’t know, anchovies and see what happens. Entertaining!
This is where stuff starts to go down hill.
Jack Daniels Rye - Comp 3 was the “Bartender Classics” round sponsored by Jack Daniels Rye Whiskey. It already sounds delicious!!
Bartenders were challenged to make 4 rye whiskey based drinks using only the specs and knowledge in their heads. We confiscated their phones so no cheating was possible. The room went pretty quiet and serious after that. Don’t worry, it livened up again once there was loads of JD Rye in the air.
Black Cow Vodka - This was the service round. We challenged our bartenders to serve the judges at their table, as if they were in service.
To give you an indication of how the atmosphere was at this point, a particular contestant, rather than saying “hello guys, what can I get you?” how question was “what the hell do you guys want?”. So it’s safe to say, it was on its way downhill. But, just to remind you, the drinks were all still on point.
TEQUILA!!!! EL JIMADOR
OK, this has to end sometime…The Finale
THE ALMIGHTY SPEED ROUND - make 4 drinks to our spec as quick as possible. 1/2 points for taste 1/2 for speed.
This was genuinely amazing. The quickest time was 01:51m. 30 seconds per drink. Next time you wait for a drink at the bar, show the bartender this.
So after all that, 7 bartenders down to 1, knockout round style, it is my pleasure to introduce the winner of this years Cheltenham Bartender of the Year Competition…
Right, so, to close, its 02:19am in the morning, we have judged 5 rounds in 5 venues with 5 spirits and 7 bartenders…bring on day two!!
I need a nap.