Martin Miller’s Gin has graciously brought me to London and Iceland for a week of gin education, touring, and merriment at some of the finest bars in the world.
While I can’t bring each and every one of you with me, I’ll be sharing everything I learn here with you over the next week. So continue to check back for updates and information as I experience them first-hand.
After a slow start this morning and some shopping for new clothing (thanks a lot, British Airways) it was time to settle in for some afternoon cocktails as I was judging the UK finals of the Martin Miller’s Mixology Competition. Seven contestants battled fiercely on the stage at Miller’s Academy of Arts and Science, an exquisite little lecture hall in Notting Hill that – over the course of the next four hours – would become a booze-fueled den of iniquity.
I was joined at the judges’ table by Martin Miller himself, fresh ray of morning sunshine Jon Santer, and fellow blogger Jay Hepburn. We braced ourselves for a round of seven different variations of the contestants’ take on the venerable English classic, the gin and tonic.
It wouldn’t be a modern mixology competition without molecular gastronomical techniques, so the first drink out of the gate was a plate of tonic gelée finished with a Martin Miller’s gin caviar and a dusting of citric powders. As we slurped away on our tasting spoons, one of the judges did note the problem of textural issues in molecular mixology. Personally, I feel that contrasting consistencies are an important element that many forget to address in molecular bartending.
Anyway, there were some highs and some lows, as there are in any bar competition, yet this was definitely the finest line-up of any competition I’ve witnessed so far.
As the crowd, fueled by cast-off remnants of drinks long judged, began to turn on host Liam Davy, he introduced the final round: the gin and tonic speed pour. Each contestant would have one minute to turn out as many gins and tonic as humanly possible, all the while making an enormous mess of exploding Fever Tree tonic bottles, discarded lime wedges, and ice.
Some of you may recognize Paul Mant above, who, while undisputedly the fastest bartender in the United Kingdom, is definitely not the tidiest. So as I sat staring at the mess that was accumulating around the contestants’ bar area, I thought to myself, “Whoa, look at the time!” and snuck out the door to rest up before dinner.