Cocktail competitions are a big deal in the bar world and are usually fiercely competitive brand sponsored events held locally, nationally or internationally, with entrants competing for prize money, trips and illustrious CV building titles.
Competitions such as the Diageo World Class are the largest and most prestigious annual competitions, however smaller brands are also beginning to get involved as a means of building awareness and credibility within the bar scene.
Recently, Edinburgh’s very own Daffy’s gin - the recent winners of World’s Best London Dry Gin (IWSC 2015) - held two very successful and very alternative cocktail competitions.
The first of which involved a slightly more fun theme with cross dressing, nerf guns and confetti cannons while the second pitched some of the best cocktail bars from Scotland and Ireland against each other.
These competitions force the competitors involved to continue to push the boundaries of mixology, science, theatre and showmanship. The entrants are given a ‘brief’ or theme for a competition and are typically held over several rounds with weighted scores being earned on taste, presentation, cocktail name and aesthetics.
The first of Daffy's two competitions in the capital was held at The Jolly Botanist and was eventually won by Calvin Politi of Tonic Bar Edinburgh.
The 'brief’ was to create Daffy’s next core serve to be published on every bottle being sold throughout the world.
Over three rounds, the competitors were challenged to use their mixology skills in a variety of ways. The first, known as ‘the backing track round’ involved cross dressing and music in the theme of the drink while round two, the ‘pressure under fire’ round, involved making up the drink as fast as possible before running the gauntlet whilst being shot at by confetti cannons and nerf guns.
Round three the ‘repeatability round’, saw the finalists selecting a team from those competitors who had fallen by the way side in earlier rounds to make as many consistent cocktails within 2 minutes as they could, all the while being scored by a panel of the country’s top drinks experts. In the midst of the fun and chaos some truly inspiring drinks were invented.
The second competition saw the cream of two country's cocktail scenes go head to head. Ireland’s Vintage Cocktail Club (2015 winner of Ireland’s best cocktail bar), the famous Peruke and Periwig and 4 other top Irish bars submitted six drinks to be made up and judged by the some of the best of the Scottish bar scene.
One Scottish mixologist, Ted Blackwell was given the recipe for each drink and tasked with making up all of the cocktails for his peers to judge in a blind tasting at his resident bar in the East End of Edinburgh, Beer and Skittles.
The standard of drinks was extremely high and the winner by a long way of the best Irish cocktail and the Daffy’s Golden Bar Spoon was Ashling Barrett of Peruke & Periwig, Dublin.
This cocktail ‘The Stoned Goddess’ (as the stones are removed from the plums and apricots in the drink) is available to try at Beer and Skittles, 14 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, over the month of October.
The Winning Cocktail Recipes:
(Calvin Politi, Tonic, Edinburgh)
40ml Daffy's Gin
10ml Courvoisier (Cognac)
3 sage leaves
1 heaped tea-spoonful of plum jam
5ml white cider vinegar
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, breaking up the jam with the spoon. Shake hard for 10 seconds, then, double strain the cocktail (through a tea strainer) into a martini style glass, straight up (no ice).
The Stoned Goddess
(Ashling Barrett of Peruke & Periwig, Dublin)
40ml Daffys Gin
20ml Apricot Brandy
15 ml Noilly Prat Vermouth
2 dashes Plum Bitters
15ml Lemon Juice
10ml sugar syrup (2:1)
15ml Egg White
2 sweet blackberries for colour
Orange and Mint garnish
Combine all ingredients in a Boston Shaker with ice, shake for 10 seconds, double strain into a coupette glass and garnish.
• Daffy’s can be found in most independent offsales across Scotland, via their website shop and you can try the famous ‘D&T’ and other great Daffy’s cocktails in Juniper, Jolly Botanist, Mothers, Brauhaus, 56 North, Harvey Nichols bar and many others across the capital.