The time has finally come, after a six month UK-wide search, the wait is finally over! The UKBG’s National Cocktail Competition culminated in a show-stopping final, and our winner has been crowned! Huge congratulations to Matteo Basso of The Malt Bar & Lounge, London – the UK Bartenders Guild’s 2021 Champion. This year’s competition was the most technically ambitious event that the UKBG have run to date, from the format to live-streams and to the judging criteria.
This year, we wanted the NCC to be all about community learning – giving something back to an industry and its workers who have lost a lot in the last few years. Our competitors embraced that ethos, with every final presentation that we saw, being dedicated to sharing the product knowledge, culture and creativity that they had learned via our seminars.
It was a great point of pride for the UKBG team to see, hear and taste the result of the last few months. The competition was extremely close, with only a handful of points separating the top of the leaderboard – an example of the talent on show.
Matteo’s two winning recipes, his Sake cocktail ‘Yon’, and Gin Fizz ‘Enogu’, along with his performance in the customer service round, earned him the highest score.
His cocktail ‘Enogu’, accompanied by a rice paper-snack with three different ‘colour palette’ sauces that when paired could tweak the cocktail’s flavour to the guest’s preference was phenomenal.
Matteo’s prize is a trip to Japan alongside the opportunity to represent the UK at the International Bartender Association’s World Cocktail Championship in Russia.
Grand Final Winning Gin Fizz:
Served in: Highball Glass
50 ml 135° East Gin
10 ml Flavoured rice syrup
30 ml Citrus blend
Topped with Beebolin Kattegat Club Soda
Garnish: Rice paper and ‘Fizz’ sauces
Grand Final Winning Sake Recipe
Served in: Rock glass
70 ml Akashi-tai Honjozo Genshu Tokubetsu
10 ml Akashi-tai umeshu
5 ml Sugar syrup
3 drops teapot bitters
Garnish: Pandan leaf, discarded grapefruit peel
2nd Place – Gabor Molnar, Pig on the Beach Hotel, Swanage
Gin Fizz Cocktail
“Royal East Fizz”
Served in: Highball
50ml 135 East Gin
25ml Acidified Lemon Verbena Juice
20ml Ginger Syrup
Top up with Coconut Soda
Garnish: Sour Candied Ginger
Method: Build & Stir
“Big In Japan”
Served in: Coupe
35ml Akashi Tai tokubetsu honjozo Sake
25ml Hatozaki Blended
35ml Coconut Water
25ml Lemon verbena & Ginger Cordial
Method: Mix all ingredients in a shaker and throw it 4/5 times to chill and dilute the drink enough. Strain into a chilled coupe glass
3rd Place: Tom Kirk, Below Stairs, Leeds
“The Oldest Tree In The Orchard”
Served in: Stemless Flute
40ml Akashi-Tai Umeshu
20ml Kingston Black Apple Aperitif
100ml Meadowsweet Tea
6 drops Saline Solution
1 part dried meadowsweet to 20 parts cold water
Mix together + leave to brew for 15 minutes then strain through a coffee filter.
1 part sea salt dissolved in 9 part cold water.
Garnish: Ghost Leaf
Method: Prepare glassware by brushing a spiral around the outside of the glass with simple syrup. Stick the ghost leaf to the outside of the glass, pressing along the syrup to make sure it adheres. Build all ingredients in the glass + stir gently to incorporate then add ice.
The Youngest Leaf On The Branch
Served in: Flute
40ml 135 East Gin
10ml Akashi-Tai Honjozo Sake
5ml Malic Acid Solution
15ml Fennel Seed Syrup
Malic Acid Solution
1 part malic acid powder dissolved into 12 parts water.
Fennel Seed Syrup
1 part fennel + aniseed tea to 20 parts boiling water and 20 parts granulated sugar
Mix all ingredients together until sugar is fully dissolved then leave to infuse until the syrup has fully cooled. Strain out the solids then bottle.
1 part barley to 10 parts boiling water
Cover barley in boiling water + infuse for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain through a cheese cloth (saving the barley for the garnish) + chill before carbonating using a carbonation rig.
Garnish: Green Apple Aroma Spray, Puffed Barley
Method: Shake all ingredients except the soda with plenty of ice then fine strain into a chilled flute then top with the barley soda. Draw a spoon from the bottom of the glass up to make sure the soda fully incorporates. Spritz with green apple aroma and serve with puffed barley.
We have so many people to thank for making the UKBG’s NCC2021 as successful as it was. We’d like to send a huge note of thanks to Beebolin for providing the mixers for our grand final, and to the Zetter Townhouse Marylebone for hosting our afterparty. We’d also like to thank the following venues and organisations for their support throughout the year
Mango Thai Tapas Bar
Mango Thai and Tapas Cocktail Bar (Hampshire Heat)
The Domino Club (Northern Heat)
ROKA (London Heat)