Words by: Jane Ryan
“I've got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell."
There’ll be tie-dye aprons, references to bunga bunga parties, world-renowned Glaswegian DJs and Scotch cocktails – this is one London Cocktail Week pop-up not to miss.
September 18th saw The Cowbell, a team comprising of Stuart Bale, Abigail Clephane and Ervin Trykowski, take the grand prize in Monkey Shoulder's Ultimate Bartender Competition. After impressing a mixture of trade, media and cocktail enthusiasts, the trio will be running their own bar during London Cocktail Week, 6th - 12th October.
Through the gruelling stages of the competition, from taking on the twittersphere to presenting their concept and finally winning the tightly fought final, The Cowbell will be bringing a Glaswegian party vibe straight into the heart of Seven Dials. Monkey Shoulder's challenge wasn't about one drink and a 10 minute presentation, instead the brand turned competitions on their head and asked bartender's to create a concept that was more inclusive and more reflective of how real bars work where everyone has to pitch in. The request? To imagine and create their vision for the ultimate bar.
The Cowbell's bar will be based on the Saturday Night Live sketch, 'More Cowbell', which sees Will Ferrell play a rather eccentric '70s band member whose instrument is the cowbell. It's Christopher Walken, playing a famous producer, who defends Ferrell to his band mates, saying "I've got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell." The sketch is a long running joke between Stuart and Ervin, who laughingly say everything can be improved with more cowbell.
Promising fun in the form of cowbells, pallet tables, festoon lighting, the focus will be on the phenomenal line up of DJs as much as the cocktails. All Glaswegian natives, the musicians are helping out their fellow Scots, and names who usually sell out arenas will be playing to the 40 capacity bar to create a great atmosphere. As Stuart says, "it's not often in London you can find a bar with good drinks that isn't too serious and has killer tunes".
"It will be light hearted, Glaswegians aren't known for taking ourselves too seriously but it will draw attention to Monkey Shoulder and ourselves for the right reasons. Once we have people in the door, we are confident we can keep them," the team say.
As for the drinks, the bar will serve Scotch cocktails including the team's signature serve Berlusconi's Love Child, equal parts Monkey Shoulder, Amaro, Crème de Pèche. Why the name? Quoting from the menu: "3 times prime minister, father of 5, 2500 court appearances and lead instigator of many bunga bunga parties. This drink has a complex character."
Commenting on the competition, Monkey Shoulder UK brand ambassador Grant Neave said "The Ultimate Bartender Challenge is a competition about getting bartenders to work as a team... We wanted to support the next generation of bartenders and this is a fantastic way to give these up and comers their first major foray into bar ownership. The pop-up will showcase a team and idea that we, alongside industry mentors have deemed to representative of the best the UK has to offer. It's going to be exciting!"
The Cowbell on Monkey's Shoulder pop-up bar at London Cocktail Week can be found at 9 Shorts Gardens, London, WC2H 9AT.