For the love of (BEEFEATER) GIN

Beefeater London Distillery:¨Όλα αρχίζουν από εδώ.
Beefeater London Distillery: Everything starts here

A very quick trip, ten cocktails and too much gin. Everything that happened in 36 hours in Tel Aviv at the Beefeater MIXLDN cocktail contest . – by Maria Th. Massoura

The invitation came from Pernod Ricard company, which includes Beefeater Gin in its portfolio of drinks and Beverages Tempo representing the PR products in Israel. At the beginning of December, I found myself in Tel Aviv, in order to participate as a judge at the final local Beefeater MIXLDN cocktail contest. The winner would go to the World Final which was to be held end of January 2016 in London.

Good Morning Tel Aviv!

The plane landed at Ben Gurion Airport at dawn on Monday. David, my driver, took me to the hotel, which I did not have the faintest idea where it was. He left me at the hotel and I  got to my room, opened the window and I heard  waves. ‘OK, I’m by the sea ‘ I thought and I went to sleep with my window open.

In the morning, I woke up and got ready. When looking out of my window, I realised that I was opposite a marina. I went down for a hearty breakfast. “Shakshuka” eggs – poached eggs cooked in tomato sauce with chilli – and a piece of halvah. After all, I had to prepare my self for the drink-filled day.

In the lobby, I met Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge, an amazing guy, who has the  coolest job. Sebastian is the Global Ambassador of Beefeater Gin. Travelling around the globe, from Latin America to Asia, he is responsible for  spreading the culture of Beefeater Gin through various master classes, competitions etc.

Let the contest begin

Our taxi left us out of French 57 bar, where the competition would be held. Inside there was much going on.  The bar, where the ten contestants would be preparing their drink, was decorated with Beefeater bottles and the garden was decorated in the Union Jack style.

Ένα gin πριν την έναρξη του διαγωνισμού. Δύο από τους φιναλίστ, Omri Blutstein και Ben Sheridan
A gin before the contest begins for two of the finalists, Omri Blutstein and Ben Sheridan

The contest begins.

In the bar, the 10 contestants made their cocktail in turns, in the presence of friends, other bartenders and executives of Tempo Beverages. When one competed, the rest  9 ones had to rank. Their own rating would be taken into account in the final result, while that procedure gave a sense of togetherness.

For the Beefeater MIXLND contest, contestants had to consider two criteria :

  • To create a drink inspired by a classic cocktail.
  • That new cocktail should give out a sense of the culture of London.

Outside, in the garden, the second part of the competition was taking place. Three judges would try the cocktails and take mini interview of each contestant at the same time. On the Chesterfield style sofa,  myself , Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge, and  Kester Thompson, an English guy who has been living in the recent years in Tel Aviv and, is a bar consultant.

beefeater judges
Maria Mordvinov presents her drink to the judges

Firstly, our job as judges by tasting the cocktail  was to look at its character and, most importantly, to see if the base, Beefeater Dry Gin or Beefeater 24, was the star of the drink. Secondly, we had to see whether that drink was successfully inspired by a classic cocktail and if there was a balance between ingredients. Thirdly, through the chat we would have with each contestant, we should  get to know whether the reason behind creating that cocktail, welcomed the culture of London successfully.

Το κοκτέιλ του Ben Sheridan είναι εμπνευσμένο από τα παιδικά του χρόνια στο Λονδίνο
Ben Sheridan’s cocktail was inspired by his childhood years in London

The last point was my favorite part of the process. London and its culture, was interpreted in various ways while its multiculturalism enabled the use of interesting materials.

A contestant had, as reference, the tea houses in Chinatown. So he ‘played’ with the ritual of tea. Another one served the cocktails on a vinyl record of an English rock band. The concept of the afternoon tea could not be out and a contestant served us his cocktail (which contained black tea) in a tea cup.

Το κοκτέιλ του Omer Gazit-Shalev, θυμίζει τα tea houses του Λονδίνου
Omer Gazit-Shalev’s cocktail was inspired by London’s tea houses

3 hours, 10 cocktails and a break with ‘ fish ‘ n ‘ chips, later on,  we looked at our notes, brought the taste and smell of each drink in our minds, and, by gathering the scores of the other bartenders, we chose the person who would take the ticket to the finals of Beefeater MIXLDN in London.

And the winner is…

The winner of the Beefeater MIXLDN in Israel was Maria Mordvinov. The 22- year- old Maria  works as a bartender at the bar of the boutique hotel Alexander in Tel Aviv.

Beefeater winner
The winner, Maria, prepares her cocktail

The drink she created is called B-Honey and is based on the classic cocktail Bee’s Knees. Her inspiration was a London Porter beer.  Maria told us that she usually drinks lager. One day, when she went to the liquor store in her neighborhood, she was convinced to try a London Porter. To her surprise, she liked it. So she thought to use it for creating her cocktail.

Therefore,  she took a London Porter beer – more specifically Fuller’s London Porter  made in Fuller’s Griffin Brewery, one of the few remaining family breweries in London – honey, cinnamon, cloves and lime and made a homemade syrup. Then she used it to create the cocktail, the base of which was Beefeater London Dry Gin. The use of the beaten egg white gave the foam effect of  a glass of beer.

The result was a balanced cocktail, where beer, honey and spices blended harmoniously with the Beefeater London Dry Gin, which was distinctly present in the final result and in the correct proportions.

Winning cocktail
The winning cocktail, B-Honey

The night was young in Tel Aviv

After the competition, it was time to ‘conquer’ the city within the time we had! Walking, in the streets of the old city and passing beside a huge synagogue – where I went inside had a quick look and it was stunning – we ended up in a traditional restaurant. The table was full of grilled and stuffed vegetables, lahmajoun, kebab and a superb deconstructed hummus. It was what I needed after a long day and, as planned, a great night.

Our next stop was bar 223. Behind the bar is  Omri Blutstein, one of the finalists of Beefeater MIXLDN. Four Pink Martinis – a classic recipe based on Plymouth Gin and Angostura Bitters-, enough shots of Beefeater Gin was the total of the first part of the evening.

beefeater 223
At 223: From left to right, Azi Azizoff of Tempo Beverages, Maria Mordvinov, Sebastian Hamilton – Mudge, and Rani Cohen of Tempo Beverages

At about 1 o’clock we left for the next bar. Night time in Tel Aviv, as I noted, never ends. By entering a mall through an arcade, we were in front of a narrow door. By getting inside, we found ourselves in another world, in the ambient Jasper bar. ‘ Do try this ‘ told us the friendly owner and cocktails kept coming onto our table continuously. People were coming in and going out, bartenders entered to say ‘hello’ and our company was getting  bigger and bigger. When shots started and drinks were accompanied by the words  “one for the road” I realized that this city is not joking! We left at 5, shortly before dawn. Deep down, I would have liked to walk in the streets of Tel Aviv…Before Sunrise.

beefeater Jasper
A night at Jasper Bar

The next day was too short as my flight was due very early.

I may not have had the chance to see much of the city, but I got a very nice taste, or better to say, a very nice sip based on Beefeater Gin.

See you, Tel Aviv, and good luck to Maria Mordvinov !

beefeater contestants
Congrats to all the finalists!

The world final of the contest Beefeater MIXLDN takes place in London on Wednesday, the  27th of January 2016.

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