A team of bartenders from London triumphed against Paris, New York City and Singapore in a challenge to build and open a new bar in just 24 hours.
At yesterday’s event in east London, they created and ran a Mexican-inspired bar (pictured above), with distressed walls and cactuses, selling cocktails with Patrón Tequila.
They were captained by Richard Woods of Duck & Waffle, with Iain Griffiths of Dandelyan, Sly Augustin of Trailer Happiness, Nathan Shearer of Callooh Callay, Luca Missaglia of Aqua and Andy Shannon of The London Edition hotel.
The 24hr Bar Build Challenge was devised by the teams at Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands and Patrón Tequila as part of London Cocktail Week. Taking place at N&C Showrooms in Shoreditch, more than 700 people watched 24 of the world’s best bartenders complete the challenge last night.
Each team represented a different city and drinks brand: Paris was supported by Bombay Sapphire gin, Singapore was backed by Bacardi rum and New York City was partnered with Grey Goose vodka.
All were judged on their bar aesthetic, drink quality and invention and how well they captured the spirit of the individual cities. The winner was voted for by the public and industry experts.
On winning, Richard said: “It’s amazing and a relief. Ultimately we’re the best cocktail city in the world – we were given a brief and we delivered. The best bar won.
“The biggest challenge was the timing. It was a huge ask putting something like this together in this time period. We wanted to create a space that captured the sustainable ethos of Patrón and would capture consumers’ imaginations.
“It’s about giving tequila a second chance, that emphasised the idea of second chances by demolishing the preconceptions of what tequila is.”
The winning team (pictured below with representatives from Bacardi) will receive flights to next summer’s Tales of the Cocktail festival in New Orleans.
Paris, representing Bombay Sapphire, came a close second with its Grand Bleu bar, featuring a disco ball suspended above a bath tab full of ice cubes. The team was captained by Carina Tsou from Candelaria.
New York City, captained by Leo Robitschek from Manhattan’s NoMad Hotel, went for a hip hop-style club while Singapore, led by Joel Fraser from the Cufflink Club, opted to turn their bar into a Cuban boxing ring.
Matthew Sykes, marketing director for Patrón Tequila, said: “We couldn’t be prouder of team London. They are a super group band of bartenders and have worked incredibly hard to devise a concept consumers love and deliver it in record timing.
“I have not seen a trade competition like this before that has focused on what really matters, delivering a great bar experience as well as great drinks to consumers.
“The reaction from guests tonight was amazing. London is a city that really loves its cocktails and has world-class bartenders to match, as seen tonight.”
Simon Difford of cocktail website Diffordsguide.com, who was one of the judges, said: “We chose these cities because they’re the cocktail capitals of the moment and the style of drinks is different for each one.
“It’s a brave thing to do as it could have gone horribly wrong but it’s been fabulous. What it really drove home was the teamwork from all the bars – it’s like a football team full of talent that don’t play together, coming together and pulling off an amazing performance.”
The other judges were: Sandrae Lawrence, editor of magazine The Cocktail Lovers; Simon Mills, bespoke editor of Wallpaper* magazine; bartender and drinks entrepreneur Ben Reed, founder of Cocktail Credentials; Siobhan Payne, London Cocktail Week festival director; and brand representatives from Patrón, Bombay Sapphire, Grey Goose and Bacardi.
Talking about their winning bar called “Second Chances”, Richard said: “Truth be told, tequila can have a bad reputation. People’s nervousness around tequila is often caused by the less premium tequila they were drinking back in their student days but Patrón is an ultra-premium white spirit, made with 100% Weber blue agave – it is a world away from those nasty memories.
“Tequila is often a misunderstood spirit and we wanted to embrace that, giving people a second chance to have a first impression of what tequila can be, what tequila is and what Patrón is all about. I think we’ve done that tonight.”
Another ambition of Team London’s bar was to have zero waste. Iain from Dandelyan said: “So we thought if we are asking consumers to give tequila a second chance, we wanted to give our waste a second chance too. We wanted to produce a zero-waste bar or as close to zero waste as humanly possible.
“Patrón leads the industry in reducing the environmental impact of tequila production. They have a reverse-osmosis system which allows them to reclaim water used in the production of tequila, which they then use in their cooling towers and to irrigate the fields. They also use the leftover agave fibre to create organic compost. And so we wanted to reflect all of that.”
20ml Patrón Reposado
20ml Martini Rosso
Build over ice.
Into the bleu (Paris)
30ml Bombay Sapphire
15ml Lemon juice
10ml Raspberry leaf cordial
Bombay Sapphire wine glasses
Build over ice.
Ringside Breezer (Singapore)
30ml Bacardi Carta Blanca rum
10ml Luxardo Maraschino
90ml Orange juice
2 Chunks of pineapple
Stick of lemongrass
Pinch of salt
Dash of bitters
Block Party (New York City)
45ml Grey Goose vodka
30ml Fresh watermelon juice
20ml Simple syrup
6 – 8 Mint leaves, lightly muddled
Solo cup with ice.
Updated October 31, 2015 with recipes.