Home is where the gin is…
If there’s one place the eight competitors are going to be inspired for their final cocktails on Thursday, it’s at the home of Bombay Sapphire at Laverstoke Mill.
For those who hadn’t been there before, this was the ideal opportunity to dig a little deeper into the whys and wherefores of Bombay Sapphire and delve into the history and heritage of the mill. Even the weather played ball and came out to play especially for the occasion, showing off the breathtakingly beautiful building and gorgeous Hampshire countryside to best effect.
Of course, the Thomas Heatherwick designed greenhouses with the 10 botanicals found in Bombay Sapphire were the star of the show, but so too was the Empire Room where they discovered the newest addition to the portfolio, Star of Bombay, a big hitter of a gin coming in at a bold, Martini friendly 47% abv.
What better way to put it to the test than in a Martini challenge? Again, like day three, this was a mini competition designed to limber up the bartenders, ready for the real showdown the next day.
Despite the fact the marks didn’t affect their semi-final presentations one jot, being professionals, they all still wanted to win. We won’t lie, there was nothing too earth-shatteringly fancy on the whole although Ran Duan added an artistic flourish by getting the judges to paint their glasses with vermouth according to their taste preference (red for Martini Rosso, yellow for Martini Dry and do on), and Sigi opted for honey and gold dust paint and added her vermouth frozen in ice cubes. Other than that, most of the competitors played it fairly straight. That said, when you’re dealing with something as classic as a Martini and a gin as good as Star of Bombay (yes, we are fans), why mess around?
Laura won this challenge. Master Distiller Nik Fordham is normally a fully paid up member of the Dry Martini club, but was totally sold on her subtler, wetter version. She kept her Martini simple but effective, first adding a touch of mineral water to her glass and allowing it to freeze to form a layer of ice at the bottom. Then instead of dry vermouth she opted for Martini Rosato and a touch of mineral water to the Star of Bombay, giving a delicate pink blush to her drink.
Well done to Laura. Tomorrow, it’s the real thing…
Highlight of the day:
Martinis in the Beaufort Bar, White Ladies in The American Bar and Pina Coladas in the Artesian bar, what’s not to like?
Where we found sublime:
Looking out to the River Test, through to the Thomas Heatherwick designed greenhouses at Laverstoke Mill – it never fails to impress.
Tomorrow: It’s showtime folks. Check our Twitter feed throughout the day for live updates.