Checking out the city of Madrid and checking into Alicante

Before we get on to the daily stuff, let’s just rewind and provide a rundown on what the competition is all about.

Here’s how Bombay Sapphire describe it:

“Imagination is at the heart of both Bombay Sapphire and the World’s Most Imaginative Bartender competition. Over the course of the week, each bartender will be challenged to deliver the best amongst their peers and create a new Bombay Sapphire based cocktail that combines individual influence and creativity, with the cultural experiences discovered during the VIP trip.

“The global competition celebrates bartenders by empowering them to discover the sublime beauty in experiences, people and places in order to encourage great cocktail making,”

Here’s how we describe it:
Downright awesome.

True to their word, day two (or let’s say day one as this is where the competition really got started), began with a tour of two markets in Madrid: one for bartenders to find inspiration for props, the other to source ingredients to enhance their reimagined gin and tonics.

After a belt-buster of a lunch, time for the train to Alicante where the bartenders were faced with their first challenge. We liked this one – think of it as a l’il warm up; time for the tenders to loosen up and show each other what they’re packing in the presentation department.

Their task was to create a riff on a gin and tonic in five minutes. They had to give their cocktail a name, explain their inspiration for it and tell judges Raj Nagra and Sam Carter why it worked with Bombay Sapphire.

Luis gave us a Sunset of Marrakesh tea and green pepper infused gin and tonic, Sigrid added beeswax and absinthe to hers, Mitsuhiro kept both his presentation and his reimagined gin and tonic light and playful with his mix of clover syrup and rosemary bitters, while Lukas went for a more contemplatative blend featuring a coffee infusion and a dehydrated black olive rimmed glass.

Dan added a syrup made from three teas to his tonic and went heavy on the garnish, including mint, basil, rosemary and peas; Ran reworked his gin and tonic into an ice cream, serving it up in cones and garnishing with the Mr Whippy soundtrack playing in the background. Robin added sherry and tonic syrup to his, finishing the drink off with a wodge of Spanish clementine, star anise and a spritz of sherry. Last we had Laura who found inspiration for her drink in Alice in Wonderland, using tea bitters and pineapple to create a floral infusion which she topped off with the tonic.

Mitsuhiro had the X Factor. Not only did he dress in a lab coat, Mad Professor style, and base his entire presentation on a doctor prescribing a ‘tonic’ to a patient, complete with test tubes, beakers and instructions to drink the potion three time a day; he poured his drink into a bottle and handed it to the judges in a prescription bag. The cocktail was every bit as good as his show, too. Light, fresh and different enough to get the tastebuds to take notice. Very nice job indeed.

Highlight of the day:
Mitsuhiro’s performance. See above

Where we found sublime:
From our privileged vantage point, perched in the mountains at La Etera in Alicante, drinking gin and tonics, looking down on the city and soaking up the sights. Happy days.

Tomorrow: Discovering the botanical locations in Murcia, then heading to London



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