Kelly Harrison from American bar and restaurant Coast to Coast in Birmingham has been named Young Bartender of the Year in the annual competition run by the UK Bartenders’ Guild.
In a closely fought final, she came top out of 10 young bartenders under the age of 28 to win the prize of an all-expenses-paid trip to the BA Elite Bar School in Estonia. She is pictured above with UKBG national vice president Mike Sweetman.
She fought off tough competition with her creation Ad Moira Alexander, a tribute to the French origins of the base liqueur, Bénédictine, which sponsors the competition.
The cocktail (pictured below) was a mix of Bénédictine, orange liqueur, double cream, ginger syrup and chocolate bitters, with a chocolate orange rim and garnish of twisted orange peel.
In second place, and winning a WSET Professional Bartending Course, was Enrico Gonzato from the Coburg Bar at The Connaught hotel in London, while Kristaps Freimanis from Hix Mayfair at Brown’s Hotel in London came third.
Enrico also won the best technical award, impressing judges with his exceptional bartending ability. Tommo Quy from The Captain’s Club Hotel in Christchurch, Dorset, received a special mention for achieving the highest score on the competition’s written test.
The final took place at The Red Bar at Grosvenor House in London. It consisted of a multiple-choice paper of 50 questions on a range of topics, a blind tasting of five products from the William Grant & Sons portfolio and a challenge for the bartenders to create their own personal cocktail containing at least 35ml of Bénédictine. Contestants were tested throughout the competition on their knowledge of the brand.
Paul Curry, Bénédictine brand manager, said: “The UKBG Young Bartender of the Year competition is always a real indicator of ‘ones to watch’ in the Industry, and once again it’s been an absolute pleasure to have been involved this year.
“Bénédictine’s unique flavour is a great ingredient for cocktails, and as such we were expecting some really exciting creations – we were not disappointed.”
Pictures by Tom Elms Photography.