The line-up is Stuart Hudson and Andrea Montague from consultancy Forgotten Hospitality, Matthew Coates from Jake’s Bar & Still Room in Leeds, Daniel Redman Hubley from Trailer Happiness in Notting Hill, London, Steven Dick from Suburban Bar in Wimbledon, London, and Dave Thompson, group bar manager for restaurant group Bodean’s BBQ.
The final will be at Nightjar in Old Street, London, on September 30 when the competitors will be challenged to come up with a future concept for the Funkin range that they believe would shake up the cocktail industry. They will also have to create an original cocktail using a new fruit puree developed by Funkin in conjunction with Nightjar.
As Innovation Champion brand ambassador, the winner will have the chance not only to bring their own perspective and creativity to future product development at Funkin but also play an integral part in maintaining the brand’s strong relationships with bartenders.
The judging panel comprises drinks writer Simon Webster from BarLifeUK, Nightjar bar manager Marian Beke, mixologist and Funkin consultant Ben Reed and Funkin founder Alex Carlton. They will be looking for creative vision, flair and imagination as well as the ability to create a well-balanced and impressive-looking drink.
Alex said: “We are dedicated to be working closely with bartenders to ensure our range develops alongside emerging trends within the cocktail movement and that it provides the perfect solution to creating high-quality mixed drinks.
“The introduction of an Innovation Champion who works behind the bar will embed this ethos further and strengthen communication with the trade.”
Funkin’s senior brand manager Joana Lenkova said: “We’ve been delighted by the level of interest in this role and the number of incredibly strong entries from a host of talented bartenders and rising stars in the on-trade.
“The final is going to be an exciting opportunity for the six finalists to demonstrate their skill and expertise and ultimately explain to us why they deserve to become the Funkin Innovation Champion.
“We’re also excited to be collaborating with Nightjar to provide a brand new Funkin puree, which is on-trend and highly desired by bartenders. We look forward to unveiling the new flavour very soon.”
The Innovation Champion will join the Funkin team on a paid, part-time freelance basis for one year and receive an up-front £1,000 cash prize.