A barback from Barlounge in Chester is off to Colorado after winning a competition with Tincup Whiskey designed to champion the importance of good barbacks.
With bartender Calum Adams, Calum Currie was put through a series of challenges after the pair were selected for the UK final of Tincup’s Hero the Barback competition.
Along with seven other pairs of bartender and barback, they were sent on an adventure and treasure hunt across London, aiming to score points through a variety of tasks.
Both Calums will now enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to Colorado, the home of Tincup Whiskey in November, including a distillery visit, a craft beer tour, an SUV tour, staying in mountain lodges, visiting the mining ghost town of Tin Cup and taking part in outdoor adventuring.
The competition called on bar managers across the country to nominate their own “Barback Hero” – someone who in their eyes deserved recognition for their sterling efforts as a barback.
The “Hero the Barback Committee” of Elliot Ball from The Cocktail Trading Co, Chris Dennis from Highballer, and Gareth Canny of London Union selected the top eight pairs for the UK final.
The other finalists were:
- Abbas Mandela Nourollahi & Carmel Healy, Whiskey Jar, Manchester
- Will Anderson & Jack Wakelin, Picture House Social, Sheffield
- Ste Boaden & Becky Grinton, Dusk Til Pawn, Manchester
- Antoine Dubois & Stephanie Dawson, El Gato Negro, Manchester
- Jack Burke & Michael Borland, The Five Points, Belfast
- Danny Park & Ross Parker, Almost Famous Great Northern, Manchester
- Dario & Michal Kobza, Oblix, London.
The finalists initially set out to earn enough points to win one of four places in the semi-final to be held that evening at The Cocktail Trading Co. They met at the Imbibe Live show at Olympia for a briefing and set off to pick up items from a shopping list of obscure items, from lemons to body hair that was kept in a ziplock bag for the “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow” challenge, where points were scored by weight of hair.
All of these elements were optional but the more they collected, the more points they could accumulate. There were two compulsory challenges: The Psychic Challenge and Broke Box Mountain.
The Psychic Challenge tested the barback’s ability to “read the mind of his/her fellow bartender” – a task they need to be good at in a busy, noisy bar environment. The bartender was given a set of 10 cards that included typical barback tasks such as needing more ice or changing a barrel. The bartender had to non-verbally communicate these requests to the barback who had to guess what was needed.
For Broke Box Mountain, barbacks had to break down 10 boxes in as quick a time as possible.
The four pairs that reached the semi-final at The Cocktail Trading Co were put through a “Hero Shift” – a 15-minute session working with the bartending team at the bar, reacting to their needs during service, while the bartender of the team managed the floor taking orders and keeping things tidy.
The judging panel included the three members of the Hero the Barback Committee along with Sara Pearce of Proximo Spirits, distributor of Tincup Whiskey. They assessed the teams on speed, communication, tidiness, execution and banter.
The runners-up were Will Anderson and Jack Wakelin from Picture House Social, Ste Boaden and Becky Grinton from Dusk Til Pawn, and Dario and Michal Kobza from Oblix.
All the finalists (pictured below) received some Tincup Whiskey point-of-sale merchandise and a bottle of Tincup, while the semi-finalists also got a GoPro Hero. All the finalists will also receive a professional photoshoot to appear in the 2018 Tincup Whiskey Hero the Barback calendar.