Bartenders bring circus to town to win Monkey Shoulder pop-up

monkey shoulder winner The Dead Parrot

A team of bartenders from Sussex are set to create their own pop-up bar at London Cocktail Week after winning a competition run by Monkey Shoulder whisky.

In a close-run final, finalists Andrew Harrod, Adam Manning and David White from The Dead Parrot in Horsham, West Sussex, achieved the highest votes with a circus-inspired bar and cocktails.

They were pitted against two other trios of bartenders at an event in Shoreditch, east London, where members of the public picked their favourite concept.

The winners will run their own all-expenses-paid bar with Monkey Shoulder at London Cocktail Week from October 5 to 11 – and will keep all the takings. Last year’s winners took home over £12,000.

At the final, the Dead Parrot team immersed guests in a full circus experience, from a high striker and a candy floss machine to winning your cocktail through hook a duck. They created cocktails called the Bearded Lady, Hook a Buck and Tin Can Alley.

Monkey Shoulder’s Ultimate Bartender Championship aims to turn the traditional cocktail competition on its head, getting bartenders to work as a team to run an entire bar rather than just create one-off cocktails.

The three teams of finalists were chosen over the past six months from competitions around the country. The other teams were made up of Danny Walker, Isaac Windsor and Ash Bovey representing Hyde & Co in Bristol and Sam Boulton, Steve Arthurs and Jordan Moore from Tiger Hornsby in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Adam from The Dead Parrot – named after the famous sketch in Monty Python’s Flying Circus, said: “We are over the moon to be crowned Monkey Shoulder’s Ultimate Bartenders! The whole championship from start to finish was incredible and every team in the final was equally matched with some great ideas – a really tough one to call.

“As well as creating some killer cocktails, we also wanted everyone to have fun and I can safely say I think we achieved that. To sum it up all I can say is that The Flying Circus is for everyone.”

The Dead Parrot team won 489 votes – but, with only 37 votes between first and third place, it was neck and neck until the very end.

Grant Neave, Monkey Shoulder’s UK brand ambassador, said “The Ultimate Bartender Championship is all about getting bartenders to work as a team in order to create and deliver great cocktails in a fun environment.

“We were impressed with the skills, creativity and most of all the fun that The Dead Parrot brought to the final.

“We wanted to support the next generation of bartenders and the pop-up at London Cocktail Week will showcase the idea that we deem to be representative of the future.”

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