A bartender has won £6,000 to invest in marketing at his bar and a £2,500 holiday in the first-ever Schweppes National Bartender Competition.
Karol Terejlis (pictured centre) from Baltic in Southwark, south London, impressed judges with his cocktail-making skills, from a speed round through to creating original cocktails.
His prize was a £2,500 holiday voucher and £6,000 to invest in marketing or media spend to help drive consumers to Baltic.
The first round saw entrants judged on the speed of their service, challenged to see who could open six Schweppes tonic bottles the fastest.
The focus then turned to drinks creation, with competitors asked to prepare an original serve using Schweppes Sparkling Juice Drinks as a mandatory ingredient, with marks awarded for taste, presentation, and overall entertainment.
Karol’s winning cocktail was the Chilli Sunrise, made with home-infused chilli vodka, grapefruit vodka, fresh lemon juice, gomme syrup, egg white and Schweppes Sparkling Blood Orange and Grapefruit Juice, garnished with grapefruit peel.
Other winners at the final, which followed a series of regional heats, included Sophy Roseaman (pictured right) from Three cocktail bar in Southsea, Portsmouth, who was given an award for most innovative cocktail for her Southsea Beach Burst. This combined Tanqueray Gin, Cointreau, cloves, cinnamon, Schweppes Sparkling Grapefruit and Blood Orange Juice, marmalade, sugar, salt, grapefruit and chilli, served with grapefruit jelly and salted crisps.
Lewis Marshall (pictured left) from The Anchor Line bar and restaurant in Glasgow city centre won the title of best-tasting cocktail for his Schweppes Garden Party. This was made with First Dawn Sauvignon Blanc, Briottet Fraise de Bois, strawberries, mint, blackberries and Schweppes Sparkling Lemon and Elderflower Juice, garnished with berries and mint leaves.
The final round saw each competitor presented with a mystery box of ingredients, which included sweet foods, herbs, fruit and vegetables. From this they had to pick three ingredients and create an “innovative and mouth-watering” cocktail.
The competition was developed as part of Coca-Cola European Partners’ investment in the Schweppes brand which has already seen a bold, premiumised revamp of the brand’s pack design.
Paul Grace, director of GB field sales at CCEP and a judge at the final, said: “We placed a brand with more than 230 years’ heritage into the hands of the future of our industry, and the innovation and craft displayed was remarkable.
“Schweppes is still the classic mixer chosen by those in the know and the competition showed yet again that the brand is as relevant today as when Jacob Schweppes put the bubble in the bottle in 1783.
“The competition was a chance to engage with some of the rising stars in the sector and learn from their ideas and hopefully inspire them to create the next Schweppes signature serve.
“All of the contestants gave the event so much energy and Karol fused old school bar craft and knowledge to create a couple of gems that looked every bit as good as they tasted.”
Karol (pictured below) said: “This is my first cocktail-making competition and I’m really pleased that everyone enjoyed my original Chilli Sunrise creation.
“There are 120 vodkas at Baltic Bar and I always use Schweppes mixers and juices to make new exciting cocktails. My CCEP rep Will Barratt encouraged me to enter this competition, and I’m so glad I did.
“I had Liquorice Allsorts in my mystery box and I’d never tried them before, but after this competition they’re my new favourite sweets! I was looking for some inspiration for a new vodka flavour to celebrate Baltic’s 15th birthday – well, seems like I found one!”
The grand final was held at The Steel Yard in London, hosted by TV presenter George Lamb together with BBC food and drink expert, Nigel Barden.