Author: Amanda Baxter
Two months ago we laid down the gauntlet to the UK’s bartenders, asking them to deliver us their finest cocktail recipe; the only guidelines were it must include our No.3 Gin and feature an ‘English Garden twist’ – following our No.3 G&T bar’s hugely successful summer residency at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. We received over 100 entries, which then had to be narrowed down to the best three bartenders across our three chosen ‘northern’ and ‘southern’ cities.
Then came the arduous task of dispatching our judging teams the length and breadth of the country to assess the shortlisted cocktails whilst quizzing the bartenders on the inspiration behind their show-stopping thirst-quenchers. Safely returned from their travels, our adjudicators then had to decide which were worthy of a place in the final to compete for a unique ‘Berry Bros & Rudd experience’.
Thus, on Monday 29th September, a bartender from each chosen city gathered in the stunning surroundings of Roundhay Park, Leeds – a quintessential English Garden encompassing 700 acres – to battle it out for the title of 2014 champion.
Representing the north were Will Farquhar of Orchid Bar, Aberdeen; Tim Ward of Two Fifths in Newcastle, and Charlene Holt of Manchester’s Apotheca. From the south we had Kate Ling of The Bureau in Birmingham; Isaac Windsor of Pata Negra, Bristol; and Wayne Chapman from London’s City Social. We strongly suggest you visit all of the above, or at least begin with whichever establishment is the closest to you.
Our tripartite judging panel consisted of last year’s victor Matt Fairhurst, Amanda Humphrey from the Mixxit training team and, from Berry Bros. & Rudd Spirits, myself. The judging was not made easy by the fantastic range of homemade ingredients offered up alongside the inspired stories behind each cocktail, but after much deliberation we came to a unanimous decision.
In third place was Will Farquhar from Aberdeen, whose ‘My Fair Maiden’ recipe was inspired by summer evenings around the fire in his aunt’s garden, the air thick with the scent of herbs. The cocktail itself is a combination of:
50ml No.3 Gin
15ml homemade capillary syrup (a simple, honey-based syrup with ferns)
15ml lemon juice
Dash of Dr Adam Elmegirab’s Dandelion & Burdock bitters
Three basil leaves
Narrowly missing out on the top spot was Tim Ward from Newcastle. His ‘The Mary Lennox’ may be familiar to avid readers of Frances Hodgson Burnett, as it references the orphaned girl and lead character from the literary classic, The Secret Garden. It is made up of:
50ml No.3 Gin
5ml Suze (Gentian apéritif)
5ml gum syrup
7.5ml homemade summer tincture (The Glenrothes infused with summer fruits)
Dash of absinthe
All of which means our winner was Wayne Chapman from our hometown, London, who impressed us all with ‘Mr Tod’s Redemption’, based on the Beatrix Potter stories of Benjamin Bunny. Its largely leporid-friendly constituents are:
50ml No.3 Gin
30ml homemade carrot and ginger purée
10ml lemon juice
10ml homemade clementine cordial
Pinch of homemade carrot salt
Best served in a picnic basket complete with checked blanket and topped with a ginger wafer.
As to Wayne’s reward, at a time of his choosing he and a friend will enjoy an exclusive lunch for two in the wood-panelled grandeur of our Director’s Dining Room at St James’s, before heading over to the five-star Dukes Hotel for refreshing No.3 Gin martinis. Then it’s on to the Royal Albert Hall for a show of his choice – and further libations at our No.3 Gin Bar there – before returning to Dukes for a complimentary overnight stay.