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London Cocktail Week

by Nicki Dallison, Senior Account Director

So last week was London Cocktail Week, the world’s biggest cocktail festival – if you missed it, where were you?!!!

Run by DrinkUp.London, this was a seven-day cocktail party celebrating the capital’s top bars and mixologists, with special offers on at more than 250 bars and restaurants, as well as pop-ups all over the city. Not only that, but there was a whole village devoted to the cocktail scene – Old Spitalfields Market was literally buzzing with cocktail masterclasses, parties and events.

In amongst all of that was The Max Lounge, a cool cocktail hangout with a laid-back main bar, a plush, deluxe cocktail bar, a special sensory room – and a silent disco, no less! (If you haven’t tried it, I can highly recommend the experience!)

It was here that the Britvic cocktail competition took place, and the tension really mounted as the four finalists arrived to prepare their cocktails in front of a panel of expert judges. Each had been challenged to develop two recipes for the competition: a twist on a Cuba Libre, made to complement the unique blend of flavours in great-tasting, no sugar Pepsi MAX® and their

Best Original Cocktail – in this category, there were no rules, other than to include at least one product from the vast range of Britvic brands.

Two of the finalists had never entered a competition before: Jack Docherty, from Alston Bar and Beef in Glasgow, travelled south to prepare his ‘Conquista de Cuba’ and ‘Bitter Truth’ for the judges – and Eloise Stevenson from Lost Property in Nottingham made her way to London for the very first time to serve up her ‘Raspberry Coco Libre’ and ‘Purdey’s Elixir’. Both contestants did incredibly well and I’m sure we will see them entering more competitions in future.

Salvatore Cipolla from BYOC London was a more experienced competitor and he wowed the judges with the creativity he put into the presentation of his ‘Maxi Cubana’ and ‘Britvic Dark Fashion’. But ultimately there can be only one winner – and the much sought after prize of an all-expenses paid trip to Ibiza Rocks 2018 went to Amber Blood, a 20 year old bartender from the London Cocktail Club.

With only seven months experience in the industry, Amber impressed judges with the confident presentation of her two winning cocktails: ‘She’s My Cherry’ made with combination of Bacardi, Pepsi MAX®, Cherry Heering, lime, vanilla and chocolate bitters and ‘Ginger Ninja’, a ginger ale version of a ‘Dark and Stormy’, containing Britvic Ginger Ale, Gosling’s Rum, Finlandia Vodka, Wray and Nephew Rum and lemon.

Commenting on her win, Amber said: “I took my inspiration for ‘She’s My Cherry’ from the flavour profile of Pepsi MAX®, choosing ingredients which I knew would complement it; chocolate, cherry and cola work well together and I’m delighted that the judges agreed! ‘Ginger Ninja’ was developed when I was feeling a bit poorly – the combination of ginger and lemon is a perfect pick-me-up and it tastes fantastic!”

The art of cocktail-making is clearly a very serious business and I have to say I was thoroughly impressed by the professionalism, enthusiasm and dedication of all four contestants. Sampling their winning cocktails on a Friday afternoon made for a nice end to the week too!