UKBG National Cocktail Competition

Words by Difford's Guide

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Hosted at London bar, Kwãnt, eleven competitors went head to head with their rediscovered classics for first place in the UKBG National Cocktail Competition 2019 Grand Final.

In collaboration with Pernod Ricard, the United Kingdom Bartenders Guild National Cocktail Competition 2019 challenged UK bartenders to take inspiration from Ian Fleming's classic Vesper Martini to create their own two unique recipes - the best Classic Vesper Martini and a New Modern Classic. Competitors were required to use at least 40ml of Absolut Elyx Vodka or Plymouth Gin per cocktail.

Following national heats and a maritime heat, eleven finalists earned their place in the final round. On 16th September 2019, the finalists came together in London for the Grand Final and showcased their drinks to the judging panel, comprising Erik Lorincz, owner of Kwãnt, Paloma Alos, Difford's Guide, Gareth Evans, Global Ambassador Absolut Elyx and Elysa McGuire, winner of UKBG National Cocktail Competition 2018. The judges scored the finalists and their cocktails against the following criteria: name, technical execution, relevance to the brief, appearance, aroma and taste.

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After twenty-two drinks and presentations, it was Lawrence Woodrow Smith from The Domino Club in Leeds who emerged the deserving winner. He received a unique one-year guest bartending tour of the UK plus the opportunity for personal mentoring from drinks industry legend Peter Dorelli. Not only that, he also has the chance to represent the UKBG at the IBA World Cocktail Competition in 2020. We present the winner and two runners-up, in order, below.

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Lawrence Woodrow Smith

The Domino Club, Leeds

Vesper Martini interpretation - Forgotten Classic

Garnish: Discard grapefruit zest
Glass: Coupette
45ml Plymouth Gin
5ml Absolut Elyx Vodka
50ml Lillet Rosé
2 dashes Orange bitters
1 dash Absinthe

Martini interpretation - The Silver Fox

Garnish: Orange twist, rosemary spring and olive
Glass: Small wine glass
45ml Plymouth Gin
5ml Absolut Elyx Vodka
15ml Waqar Pisco
5 dashes Homemade olive bitters

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Alessandro Vella

45 Park Lane, London

Vesper Martini interpretation - Equality

40ml Plymouth Gin
40ml Absolut Elyx Vodka
15ml Vin Santo
3 dashes Vanilla bitter
Almond foam

Martini interpretation: Don't get dry

Garnish: Micro basil
Glass: Martini
75ml Plymouth Gin
15ml Vermouth di Prato
2 dashes Orange bitter

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Tom Kirk

Below Stairs, Leeds

Vesper Martini interpretation - Our Lass

Garnish: Lemon zest
Glass: Coupette
40ml Plymouth Gin
15ml Chivas 12yr
20ml Lillet Rouge
5ml Sparkling Wine Syrup

Martini interpretation - Pagala

Garnish: Pickled trimmed spring onion
Glass: Nick and Nora
45ml Plymouth Gin
10ml Sake
15ml Ginger Wine
2 drops Maggi Seasoning