From all over the UK, bartenders came together on their own field of dreams for this year’s Bacardí Classics Softball Tournament. For the fifth year running, teams representing some of the UK’s top bars competed earlier this month, bringing the spirit of Cuban softball to London Mets Baseball Club in Finsbury Park in north London.
As well as teams from London, bartenders from bars outside the capital took part for the first time, with the Northern Rebels, captained by Iain McPherson of Hoot the Redeemer and Panda & Sons in Edinburgh, and the South West Jets, captained by Ben Alcock of HMSS in Bristol.
In a thrilling final, the tournament was won by The Underdogs, a team captained by Geoff Robinson from 7 Tales at Sosharu in London, who achieved a glorious grand-slam hit. This led them to victory against Reigning Champs, captained by Olly Brading of The Cocktail Trading Co – last year’s winners. The champions won themselves a trip to Ibiza.
The other teams were the High Flyers, captained by Luca Missaglia of Aqua Shard in London, Hotel Heroes captained by Iain Griffiths from Dandelyan at the Mondrian London hotel, the Independent All Stars captained by Barney Toy of Little Bat in north London, and Members Only, captained by Tom Kerr of Soho House Group.
The softball tournament harks back to Bacardí’s sponsorship of baseball during the 1920s and 1930s in its native Cuba. The teams and spectators in Finsbury Park enjoyed Bacardí rum and Hatuey beer just as the fans did back in Cuba, with the added ingredients of cocktail from The Cocktail Trading Co and a menu of burgers and ribs from London’s Dirty Bones restaurants.
Bacardí’s UK brand ambassador, Metinee Kongsrivilai, commented: “We introduced the first Bacardí Classics Softball tournament to the UK five years ago to bring the country’s bartenders together for a day of fun and we’ve never looked back. Huge thanks from all of Bacardí to everyone who took part in this year’s event – the teams were so enthusiastic and certainly displayed great competitive spirit and the catering was as ever outstanding.
“The Bacardí Classics Softball tournament is a great way to celebrate the people at the frontline of our industry and rewarding the winners with a trip to Ibiza shows just how much Bacardí truly supports bartenders around the UK. Same time next year, everyone?”