Bartenders vie for competition cup for Winchester Cocktail Week

winchester cocktail week

The first Winchester Cocktail Week is under way in bars and restaurants across the Hampshire city, including a new competition for bartenders.

The festival is taking place in 13 different venues, offering people with special wristbands 16 cocktails at £4 as well as discounted entry to 11 events taking place over the week.

A hub has been created by organisers Cabinet Rooms in the bar at the Theatre Royal Winchester. Wristbands and accompanying souvenir guides can be collected and bought there.

Gary Whiter of Cabinet Rooms said: “At Cabinet Rooms, we love learning all about food and drink so we’re delighted to welcome industry experts to the Hub to run free workshops for wristband holders.

“Whether people want to learn how to mix a cocktail from professional bartenders or just to know more about the spirits and mixers going into their favourite drinks, we think there’s something on the programme to enlighten and entertain everyone.”

Today (February 1), five of the region’s most imaginative and skilled bartenders will compete to win the first-ever Winchester Cup trophy for their bar or restaurant.

The competition opened for entries at the beginning of December, inviting bartenders within a 55-mile radius of Winchester to submit details online of a cocktail they had created to champion local produce.

The five finalists competing today in the Wintonian Room of the Guildhall will be:

  • Chris Hoare of Milk bar in Reading, making Dark Sails using dandelion coffee made locally by his mother
  • Maurizio Anders Laudato of Chewton Glen Hotel in the New Forest, with New Forest’s Nest using locally sourced ingredients including estate-foraged quince jelly
  • Andy Gallagher, also of Chewton Glen Hotel, making the Thai and Dry Martini using locally produced seaweed syrup
  • Luke Condell of Mango Thai Tapas Bar & Restaurant in Southampton, making Straight Out The Common using key ingredients foraged within one mile of Southampton Common.
  • James Harding of Lime Wood Hotel in the New Forest, making The Smokehouse using Lime Wood pancetta, cured and smoked on site.

Gary said: “We didn’t design the Winchester Cup competition as a technical test – rather, its purpose is to showcase creativity and local produce.

“Our hope is that the Winchester Cup will promote a sense of community in the local bartending scene as well as celebrate those bartenders who are already doing exciting things in and around the city.”

The competition will be held in front of an audience of the event’s sponsors Lasercell, Guildhall Winchester and Hartnett, Holder & Co, with local hospitality professionals and a panel of judges.

The judges will include Sam Carter, senior brand ambassador of Bombay Sapphire Gin which is made at Laverstock Mill in Hampshire, north of Winchester. The others will be master of wine Susie Barrie, who appears on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen, and Marcus Roe of Cabinet Rooms. Points will be awarded for the name, the appearance, the aroma, the taste and the use of local ingredients in the drink.

The winner will be awarded the Winchester Cup, which will be held by his bar for the next year. Based on the work of local illustrator Simon Harmer, the cup features famous Winchester landmarks cut from steel by local company LaserCell.

The winning bartender will also receive two places on a cookery course at Hartnett, Holder & Co Backstage, the purpose-built cookery school kitchen at the Lime Wood Hotel in the New Forest.

Cabinet Rooms has worked with Winchester Business Improvement District, the partnership of local businesses, to develop the cocktail festival. It is sponsored by Rooster Creative Marketing, Paris Smith, Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands and Winchester Distillery.

For details of bars and events, visit

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