Last weekend, top bartenders from the length and breadth of the county went head-to-head in the Monkey’s Shoulder Ultimate Bartender Championship to win the much-desired title of the Bartender of the Year.  A crowd of cocktail enthusiasts (myself included) attended the cocktail-filled grande finale to help judge the winner.  The cocktails certainly did bring all the boys (and the girls) to The Yard, Shoreditch, where the event was held.

The night saw a three-bar face-off, with each team competing for a chance to win an all-expenses-paid pop-up bar at this year’s London Cocktail Week.  Earlier rounds of the Monkey’s Shoulder Championship had whittled the contenders down to just three teams representing Newcastle, Bristol and Horsham.

There were some ultra-talented artists who created some Money Shoulder themed artwork to set the scene.
Each of the teams (which were three bartenders strong) had to orchestrate a wholly-entertaining experience through the atmosphere, banter and of course expertly concocted cocktails on a chosen theme.  First up, we checked out the team named ‘Dead Parrot’ from Horsham, whose theme was a ‘raucous night at the circus’.

Their aptly-named cocktails included ‘Bearded Lady’, ‘Hook a Buck’ and ‘Tin Can Alley’, served in plastic cups.  From the wacky outfits to the amusements, they really nailed the circus theme.  There was even a cotton candy stall, much to the delight of myself and the hoards of people who flocked to get their fix of the sugary stuff.  Everyone seemed to make a beeline straight for it, in fact, I’m pretty sure the queue for cotton candy was longer than the one for cocktails.  Cocktails and cotton candy are winning combination if you ask me.

Representing the South West was Bristol’s ‘Stirred Down and Brown’ team, who immersed punters in the ‘best of Bristolian West’.
Next up was the Newcastle team ’21st Century Re-amendment’ who hosted a 1920s themed prohibition party.  From classic cars to the great looming chandelier, these guys really pulled out all the stops to make it feel a party at Gatsby’s.
So who was the winner of the 2015 Monkey’s Shoulder Ultimate Bartender Championship?  It was, of course, the ‘Dead Parrot’ team, with their circus-themed shenanigans.  They are one to watch out for at London Cocktail Week, which will be held on 5-11th October.

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