With dry January firmly confined to the history books for another year. Beefeater Gin hosted the world’s largest Bartender competition to celebrate, MIXLDN 7, seventh year running.
Circumnavigating the globe collecting the best bartenders along the way. The annual event is the largest of its kind drawing over 1,500 entrants eager to flex and express their mixology skills. The brief? Create a cocktail inspired by your local city considering flavour, appearance, innovation and originality. While embracing the diversity, people and culture of your home. The same foundations that make Beefeater Gin the global icon it has become.
With all this in mind The Bike Shed, Shoreditch in heart of East London was the perfect place to host the party.
The rise/return of gin is by no means a new trend, but it isn’t showing any signs of falling out of favour with the masses.
The final had come down to just 8 bartenders stretching as far as Canada and as wide as Hong Kong seeing off stiff competition from every other corner of the map. Winning was no easy task, the strategy was two-fold: Impress the panel of expert judges of which includes Desmond Payne MBE, Beefeater’s Master Distiller with over 50 years in the industry.
Or the more daunting task. Win over a thirsty mob of journalists, bartenders and most importantly gin mad members of the public!
With such a task ahead, the glory must surely be worth it? Being crowned Beefeater MIXLDN Global Champion would certainly be enough, but if not… A once in lifetime chance to create a limited-edition signature gin, working with the master distiller himself to help curate the perfect botanicals for the blend. Game On!
The eight bartenders each took their place in the room letting the masses come to them on a mini voyage of discovery. These are men and women that take great pride in their work and art. A story and possibly memento comes with each sample to help secure that all important vote.
Imagination and personality are put on full display as the finalist’s charm, educate and indulge the people. These samples are not for the faint hearted. No two stories or cocktails are the same even with Beefeater being a base to build upon. MIXLDN 7’s recipe of craft, diversity and gin really is a winner.
Trying to keep up with the flowing narratives and inventiveness along with the gin, more gin and even a mention of absinthe was a struggle but that is another testament to the skills of the last finalists. From the strawberry fields that surround the city of Oslo, served with pancakes, to a trip back in time to the pre-war Warsaw and its sophisticated social scene, don’t forget your postcard/recipe.
The night would not be complete without a champion crowned and history made. First up was the People’s Champion (not The Rock). Jason Seele’s ‘Bright Idea’ is a celebration of the Silicon Valley he calls home. A conductive copper coupe provides the last piece of the puzzle to illuminate a home-made circuit board. The mix of Beefeater 24, yuzu juice, pink peppercorn syrup, matcha tea powder (stencilled into a microchip décor) and house-made bitter artichoke foam is sharp and refreshing innovation of a drink.
As good as a ‘Bright Idea’ is, the MIXLDN 7 crown belongs to one Maxim Schulte representing Hong Kong and Macau. He wagered his ‘Stack of Fortune’ against the rest of the world and won big. Inspired by his home, the appropriately knick-named Las Vegas of Asia, the highball concoction resembles a stack of casino chips. Beefeater 24 with homemade bitter orange blossom sherbet, orange bitters, white crème de cacao, fresh mint, fresh lime, soda and butterfly pea flower was the perfect balance of flavours to seal the deal. A well-deserved win for the resident of The Ritz-Carlton Macau Bar & Lounge.
Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Schulte’s limited-edition gin, taking centre stage in the Kennington Distillery for visitors from all over the world to purchase. Maxim will take his creation back to his bar for friends, family and customers to sample.
Sam Brady is a London based freelance writer and photographer covering travel and lifestyle.
Main photographs by Sam Brady