It was a close run thing for the Raconteur’s Kevin Griffin when he finished Â second at this yearâ€™s Appleton Estate Bartender Challenge.
Richard Tring from The Milk Thistle has been crowned UKâ€™s Best Bartender but only after 3 months, 300 cocktails, 500 miles and 6 heats stretching the length of the UK. 500 bartender hopefuls were whittled down to the 8 regional finalists who travelled to London’s Docklands to show what they could do.
The first day of the challenge consisted of a written exam, blind tasting and individual presentation with only 4 bartenders making it through to round 2. The second day invited the public to judge each bartenderâ€™s individually dressed pop-up bars and bespoke cocktail menus whilst also assessing their skills and ability to interact with the customer.Â The British finalist will go through to the World finals in Jamaica where personality and entertainment value are highly prized attributes.
Kevin was unlucky to miss out. He said, â€œWhat an experience. My highlight of the night was a note handed to me from a member of the public, stating that it was the best cocktail experience he had ever had and that I was the â€˜Picassoâ€™ of cocktails.â€
Suppertime with Shakespeare
40ml Appleton Estate 8 year old
15ml Licor 43
15ml Mantineia sherry (smoked with pink grapefruit zest and Granny Smith Apple smoke â€“ using smoking gun)
Stir down over block ice
Serve over balled ice in a tea cup
Serve with a large slice of good Ginger Cake on the side â€“ to be enjoyed together.
Since The Raconteur Kevin Griffin has been working with Tigerlily, Edinburgh, training staff and assisting with the delivery of the new cocktail list. He will soon be working with his boss Jamie MacDonald again on an exciting new project.
West London: Joshua Reynolds from Pollen Street Social
Bristol: Richard Tring from Milk Thistle Cocktail Bar
Edinburgh: Murray Drysdale from Rickâ€™s Bar & Restaurant | Kevin Griffin from The Raconteur
South East UK: Alex Proudfoot from Raoulâ€™s Cocktail Bar
Leeds/Manchester: Jamie Stephenson from Corridor
East London: Lee Potter â€“ Cavanagh from Marks Bar @ Hix | Stuart Hudson from Hawksmoor