Bartenders are a naturally inventive lot. Which is why the Bombay Sapphire World’s Most Imaginative Bartender competition is such a hugely anticipated contest. Now in its fourth year and as refreshing and inspiring as it was at its inception, it’s easy to see the appeal.
The beauty is in its intention – to elevate the classic gin and tonic to sublime territory using Bombay Sapphire gin. It’s a simple idea in theory but one that puts bartenders to the test as it calls on precision, knowledge, passion for the craft and an extra dollop of ingenuity.
But the rewards are huge. The chance to be mentored by the experts at Bombay Sapphire? Tick. A major opportunity to elevate your career? Tick. Your passport to travel to one of the 10 exotic locations where Bombay Sapphire sources its unique botanicals? Tick. All this and a prestigious title to boot.
In short, it’s every ambitious bartender’s dream. If you’re naturally curious, extremely driven and ready to advance to the next level in your work, then get ready to express your creativity in a Bombay Sapphire glass – the Bombay Sapphire World’s Most Imaginative Bartender competition is on!
A Bombay Sapphire glass waiting to be filled with your interpretation of sublime beauty
Rules are out, creativity is in
Forget rational thought, this is a challenge for bartenders to take the classic gin and tonic to a thrilling new territory. In keeping with the ethos behind Bombay Sapphire gin, don’t hold yourself back with tried-and-tested formulas, the aim is to conjure up a new Bombay Sapphire Gin and Tonic that is not only original, exciting and delicious to taste but one that is visually appealing as well.
Obviously, the inspiration behind each drink will be varied – that’s one of the many attractions to this particular competition. Last year the cocktails that earned their makers a place in the finals were inspired by everything from a no-nonsense but beautifully executed curry and pint from Brick Lane in London’s East End through to a foraging adventure in Glasgow. One contestant based his cocktail on a handful of grass he cheekily snipped from the gardens at Buckingham Palace in his quest to create a right royal gin and tonic fit for the Queen, while another focused on the delicate beauty of English country gardens. Visionary ideas can strike in any form. The one characteristic your creation will have in common with the rest is the distinctive character of Bombay Sapphire gin.
You can be guided by the 10 sublime botanicals that go into its making, their origins (which shouldn’t be difficult seeing as they take exotic landscapes like Indonesia and West Africa, and inspiring locations closer to home in Spain and Italy* – see the latest ad campaign here). You may choose to focus on the unique vapour infusion process that gives Bombay Sapphire gin its crisp, balanced and aromatic profile, for one person the unmistakeable blue bottle might provide the backbone to their cocktail while another will be influenced by its new home at Laverstoke Mill – it’s your call.
Think Sublime Beauty
This year bartenders are asked to concoct their fresh new take on the Bombay Sapphire Gin and Tonic with the theme Sublime Beauty in mind. What does that mean? Again, there are no rules – it’s your interpretation that counts. Think garnish, glassware, ingredients, the backbone of your cocktail that challenges convention – anything that conjures up the idea of sublime beauty in liquid form.
View from the top
Whatever your creation, you’re asked to take an aerial shot of your reimagined Bombay Sapphire Gin and Tonic – this can be on your phone, camera or you might choose to show off your arty skills with an illustration or drawing. The choice is yours – just make sure your picture captures the beauty of your sublime cocktail to best effect. See examples below:
Are you ready for the challenge? Then get your submissions in now! It couldn’t be easier. Just email for your submission pack and you’ll find all the Ts and Cs inside. The top line details are:
Create your new take on a gin and tonic
Give your cocktail a name
Don’t forget to give your cocktail a personality by describing the rationale behind its conception
List your ingredients and instructions on how to make it
And remember to get your cocktail to smile for the camera – you’ll need to submit that essential aerial picture to show it off
Email Sean Ware at firstname.lastname@example.org for your submission pack. But hurry, entries close 4th March.
Dates for your diary
4th March: Closing date for entries.
11th March: The 10 going through to the next stage of the competition will be notified.
16th March: A day of discovery and mentoring with Nik Fordham, Master Distiller at Bombay Sapphire Distillery – Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire for the final 10.
30th March: UK finals in The Rumpus Room at the uber glamorous Mondrian hotel in London.
Early June: Global finals in the Bombay Sapphire distillery at Laverstoke Mill.
Last year’s UK winner
Richard Woods, Duck & Waffle
Richard dazzled the judges with his originality, knowledge and passion for balancing cocktails and food. “His drinks were absolutely superb,” said top chef Simon Rogan who was justifiably impressed by the culinary approach to Woods’ cocktails. “They were original and very well-balanced – he was very impressive throughout”.
Since winning the competition, Richard has gone on to open his own cocktail bar in Mayfair, regularly contributes to consumer and trade publications and has made appearances on national television. “The competition is called the World’s Most Imaginative Bartender for a reason and it calls on pulling something different out of the bag to get through,” he said immediately winning the title last year. “It was tough but it encourages you to think about all aspects of cocktail creation, not just the ingredients in your drink but the stories and inspiration behind it.”
Top: Richard Woods creates his cocktail and goes on to take the top prize in last year’s competition (above)
10 is the magic number
Ten people will make it through to the Bombay Sapphire World’s Most Imaginative Bartender UK final taking place on 30th March. Ten is also the number of carefully chosen botanicals sourced from around the world that go into Bombay Sapphire gin. Who couldn’t be inspired by this little lot?
Juniper from Tuscany
Lemon peel from Murcia
Grains of Paradise from West Africa
Coriander from Morocco
Cubeb berries from Java
Orris root from Florence
Bitter almonds from Spain
Cassia bark from Indonesia
Liquorice from China
Angelica from Dresden
A few of the botanicals that give Bombay Sapphire its distinctive taste
10 things to inspire you making your cocktails:
A analytical thinking
G going for it
N not being frightened to experiment
A artistic approach
T thinking outside the box
V valuing the base product
and a sneeky one: