Bartender Shaun Hall (pictured) from Vice & Co in Lincoln has been crowned Funkin Innovation Champion 2018.
Earlier this year, fruit purée brand Funkin opened up the Funkin Innovation competition to bartenders, asking them to create an original serve which would be a top seller in 2019 and easy to replicate.
The cocktail had to feature one FunkinPRO Purée and FunkinPRO Cocktail Syrup or FunkinPRO Beetroot Shrub with a minimum of 25ml of purée.
Six talented mixologists from different corners of the UK were picked to go head-to-head in a final which took place at Crucible in London on 11 September 2018.
Esteemed judges on the day included Stuart Bale, founder of Crucible, Aiste Valiukaite, Funkin Innovation Champion 2017 and Clinton Cawood, freelance drinks writer.
The first round saw each finalist create their unique Funkin cocktail, followed by a two-hour bespoke immersive flavour session led by Stuart Bale and Geoff Robinson, using the Crucible lab’s range of cutting-edge equipment.
For the last round, they were set a surprise challenge where they were allocated ten minutes and £10 to source props and garnishes from a local party shop to accompany their second original creation.
The contestants were given free reign of the ingredients and equipment housed within Crucible and Bale and his team of experts offered guidance and reassurance to the finalists along the way.
The aim of the challenge was to demonstrate the bartenders’ creativity, flavour combinations, Funkin product knowledge and presentation skills.
Shaun impressed the judges with his Waking Reality cocktail which featured FunkinPRO strawberry purée and FunkinPRO jalapeño syrup.
He said: “I am humbled to have claimed the title of Funkin Innovation Champion 2018. My approach to bartending is very experimental and the Funkin Innovation Championship really facilitated this expression of creativity.
“My goal is to educate people about unusual flavour combinations and change their perceptions about certain pairings. Waking Reality is a refreshing cocktail that provides an education of flavour, strictly through the palate.”
“I’m looking forward to working closely with Funkin. The team were very supportive throughout the whole competition and I’m excited to personally contribute towards the company, whilst gaining some unique experience.”
Stuart Bale said: “Shaun showed superb Funkin product knowledge and tied it in excellently with his presentation. His drinks tasted great and his inspiration was tangible.
“He performed consistently well across both rounds and utilised the equipment in our lab to make his final drink which was versatile and incredibly easy-drinking.”
Aiste Valiukaite added: “The calibre of drinks and presentation was high and it was interesting to see Funkin products being incorporated into cocktails in very unusual yet precise manners.”
“For some of the contestants it was their first time competing but they showed some real flavour knowledge and flare in their performance.”
As Funkin Innovation Champion, Shaun landed himself a one-year, part-time contract with Funkin worth up to £6,000, a trip to Bar Convent Berlin and £500 in cash.
Waking Reality by Shaun Hall
37.5ml El Jimador Blanco
12.5ml Ancho Reyes Verde
25ml FunkinPRO Strawberry Purée
12.5ml FunkinPRO Jalapeño Syrup
25ml Funkin PRO Pure Pour Lime
1tsp Smoked salt
Shake, serve over crushed ice. Garnish with a strawberry-stuffed jalapeño.