Fernet-Branca reveals winning UK coin for bar industry network

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A Dundee bartender has won a nationwide search for a new UK coin for members of Fernet-Branca’s global bar industry network.

Turtle Higgins, general manager of Bird & Bear in Dundee, came up with the coin design that received the most votes in an online poll featuring the best entries submitted by bartenders.

With a competition theme of “What makes the UK bar scene so great?”, Turtle used the tools of his trade – bar spoons, a jigger and a bar top – to create a stylised union flag as a celebration of the unity and diversity of the bar trade (pictured).

First created in 2012, the challenge coins are carried and swapped by a selected group of bartenders around the world, with many countries creating their own annual designs. The coins mark bartenders’ membership of the exclusive Fernet-Branca Secret Society and are used as a proof of membership when they go into bars.

More than 1,100 people took part in the online poll, with Turtle’s design winning 254 votes. He said: “I’m both humbled and ecstatic to win with a design that I put a lot of thought into, and particularly because Fernet-Branca is a brand that means so much to the hospitality trade.”

Second place went to a design by Roy Varty of Night Caps in Carliol Square in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with a design commemorating a Fernet-loving customer who was tragically killed in a skiing accident.

Third-place winner Mariusz Plucinski of Johnny Foxes & The Den in Inverness created a cocktail shaker design to symbolise the broad mix of people who make up the bartending community.

Turtle will be the first person in the UK to receive the 2018 UK coin. He will be presented with one to keep for himself and four more to pass on to fellow bartenders on his travels, before the coins are released into wider circulation.

Dan Bolton, managing director of UK distributor Hi-Spirits, said: “All the entrants put real thought into their designs, so full credit goes to Turtle for winning the vote.

“The Fernet-Branca Challenge Coins are an important part of the international bartending community, and so we’re delighted to have given bartenders the chance to design the 2018 UK coin.”

This September also sees the annual global Fernet-Branca Barback Games for bartenders held in London. For updates on the event, visit www.Fernet-Branca.co.uk/BarBackGames.

Created in Milan in 1845 by Bernardino Branca, Fernet-Branca is a 39% ABV digestif amaro with a distinctive bitter flavour, still made to a closely guarded original recipe.

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