A London bartender will go head to head with two other cocktail makers in the UK final of the Bourbon Battle on Monday.
Mikey Pendergast has been crowned best in the South of England, but will he make it as the World’s Best Bourbon Bartender?
The winner of the global final, to be held at Rebel Yell’s distillery in Kentucky, USA in September, gets to take home an entire barrel of the wheat-based bourbon – equivalent to 60 bottles.
Just as well he loves the whiskey, which dates back to 1849. “Winning the competition would be personally gratifying,” he said.
The regional battle was against seven other bartenders at The Vault in Soho where spectators watched in awe as each stepped up to create in just seven minutes their ‘Lucky 7s’ combination, an original Rebel Yell cocktail with no more than seven ingredients.
The cocktails were then rated on appearance, aroma, creativity, taste and overall impression and Mr Pendergast’s ‘If You Don’t Dance Then Sit Down’ won over the judges.
The taste of the spirit varies depending on the ingredients used.
Mr Pendergast said: “Rebel Yell, which is very high in wheat content has a lot of room for aromatic ingredients, so things with naturally aromatised compounded wheat helps carry things that are sweet rather than rye or barley.”
His mix – which he admits took a few attempts to get right – is made with a combination of herbs, fruits and spices with notes of fermented cayenne, mango and eucalyptus.
“They ride on the vanillin and amino acids in the whiskey to transform the taste of those ingredients into an almost tropical guava,” he said.
“I’m absolutely delighted to have made it through the regional semi-finals and be going on to represent the South of England at the national Bourbon Battle! Wish me luck for the next stage, I can hear Kentucky calling!”
With the final only days away, John Rempe, master blender and head distiller at Lux Row Distillers, could not have been more complimentary.
He said: “The semi-finalists all showed amazing creativity and flair when it came to their serves but Mikey’s had that extra ‘wow’ factor that I’m sure will stand him in excellent stead when it comes to the UK final.”