Would you like to come and try some new cocktails? At the top of the BT Tower? Yes please. We responded as quick as, well, as quick as the express lift that got us to the 34th floor when we arrived…
And that’s pretty damned quick. That express lift travels at 7 metres per second. Yes sir, whoosh and 20 seconds later we were 158 metres up in the air. The famous revolving space once housed a very swanky restaurant and now plays host to very special events. Ones like this – finding the best two cocktails to serve at the manifold events that BT will be hosting with the British Olympic Association and the British Paralympic Association over the summer.
The first thing we saw when we stepped out of that lift was the view. “Wow” doesn’t even come close to describing it. We did eventually pick our jaws up off the floor but it was impossible to stop us staring. However, there was work to be done – cocktails to try.
The four finalists in this exceptional cocktail comp were drawn from the Compass Group who had organised the event for BT and also ran the earlier rounds to find the shortlist. The challenge was to devise cocktails (one regular and one non-alcoholic) that had to be both outstanding to taste and practical to make – seeing as how they would be mixed on a massive scale at those BT events.
Amongst the finalists Abdulai Kpekwa worked the classic BT advertising lines: “It’s for you” and “It’s good to talk” into his presentation, Alex Ricketts cleverly used seasonal berries to incorporate the BT corporate hues of purples and lilacs into his cocktail, while Joanna Hollick entertained with some good patter. But the top prize went to Matthew Hastings. His alcoholic cocktail mixed up London dry gin, Plymouth sloe gin, fresh lemon, basil leaves, light brown sugar and soda water, while his non-alcoholic tipple blended apple juice, lime juice, sugar syrup, mint leaves and ginger beer.
Matthew has worked for Compass part-time for seven years to support himself through Sheffield University and having graduated in November is currently taking a year out working as a relief manager for the Ministry Of Justice and part time in a sports bar. He’s passionate about cocktails and recently started creating his own and entering competitions – BT being the first he’s won.
The judges were Suzi Williams, Brand and Marketing Director, BT Group, Simon Difford, Diffordsguide.com, Ramon Puente, General Manager at Tom’s Kitchen, Somerset House and Graham Copeman, General Manager of The Goring. What particularly impressed them was that whilst all the drinks on offer made the cut in terms of taste and presentation, Matthew’s really ticked the box when it came to making them on the mammoth scale required.