Three challenges. Four days. Four nights. 10 finalists. 10-year anniversary. London, England.
This was the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Most Imaginative Bartender competition.
Building up for months all across Canada and the United States, top bartenders have been competing for their big moment – the finals of the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Most Imaginative Bartender competition in the U.K. Here, the 10 finalists would go head-to-head over intense challenges, where the cocktail was the hero but the process of getting there was just as epic.
These 10 young professionals were pushed to the limit – from ticking timers to unfamiliar bars, ingredient sourcing in foreign markets to being evaluated by celebrity and iconic judges. With each glass a blank canvas, they demonstrated their artistry and created mixology masterpieces.
Oh, and did we mention restaurant icon, inspirational entrepreneur, and all-around awesome gent Jamie Oliver brought some star power to the mix by appearing as a surprise judge? His passion added an exciting dynamic to the already thrilling competition.
Additionally, finalists got the chance to experience unforgettable nights at the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, the most iconic London cocktail bars, restaurants, markets, and more.
The MIB was centered around three main challenges, each one relying on a different strategy needed from the bartenders to win.
The first challenge was incredibly nerve-racking, especially with the added pressure of loads of spectators and cameras. The bartenders needed to select their ingredients from an overflowing pop-up pantry and create three perfect cocktails in 12 minutes.
One of the highlights of the experience was seeing notable Canadian master bartender Chantelle Gabino, who won the Canadian competition, wow the judges with her take on a Pimms cup. If you’re ever in Toronto’s west end, be sure to head over to Parts & Labour to sample one of her creations.
The second challenge brought the competitors to five of the most exclusive and respected cocktail bars in London to complete a guest bartender shift.
The third and final challenge had each bartender showcasing their skills at the rooftop of the Rumpus Room in the Mondrian London. Here, these artists had to make a tough choice: show off the cocktail that led them to the finals, or go with a brand-new concoction inspired by the week’s experience.
The BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Most Imaginative Bartender competition is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; a unique combination of the most sophisticated yet relatable mixology, culinary expertise, hospitality trends, local and sustainable product sourcing, cross-border connections, and overall great vibes.
Getting to witness the best in the bartending business put their skills to the test against the backdrop of a world-class city like London was an adventure we will never forget, and we can’t wait to share that experience with you.