Nightcap storms Classic Cocktail Competition

Ed Garner has been crowned a UK cocktail champion after winning the Classic Cocktail Competition.

Ed Garner, area training manager for bar group Nightcap, has been crowned a UK cocktail champion after dominating the inaugural Classic Cocktail Competition.

Garner, who was representing Nightcap’s Barrio Bars on the day, was one of 15 bartenders to present six classic cocktails to a selection of industry judges.

While a number of drink-specific awards were up for grabs, Garner took home the Bartender of the Year title and the £1,000 prize that came with it after delivering consistently high scores in each round.

Headline sponsored by Sanpellegrino, The Classic Cocktail Competition saw each bartender compete in six rounds: Spirit and Mixer of the Year, Negroni of the Year, Whiskey Sour of the Year, Old Fashioned of the Year, Vodka Martini of the Year and Margarita of the Year.

After Garner (pictured above with host Nigel Barden and Nicolas Medicamento, founder of Doctor Cocktail, on behalf of lead sponsor Sanpellegrino) triumphed in the Vodka Martini and Spirit and Mixer rounds, it soon became clear he was going to take home the top prize.

“I’m on a huge, euphoric high,” said Garner on the night. “My heart’s beating – I think I need five minutes to relax. 

“With my vodka martini, it’s a drink that I’ve been thinking about for a really long time. I put a lot of thought and effort into it. I’ll be having many, many drinks now – that’s the only way to celebrate!”

Negroni of the Year (left) and Whiskey Sour of the Year (right)

Drinks of the year

With the other rounds, awards went to The Coconut Tree’s Rashintha Rodrigo, who took home the Negroni of the Year title. It was made with Whitley Neill Distiller’s Cut, Suez, vermouth, lemon peel and a sour lollipop garnish.

Gabriel Fashion from Be At One, who finished third overall, produced the Whiskey Sour of the Year, featuring Oggs, bourbon, rosemary syrup, fresh lemon juice and mulled wine syrup.

Old Fashioned of the Year (left) and Margarita of the Year (right)

The New World Trading Company was represented by Megan Jenson from The Smugglers Cove, who scooped the Old Fashioned of the Year award with her recipe of Jameson Black Barrell, chamomile syrup, Ms Better Bitters Orange Tree bitters and smoked salt saline solution. Jenson took second place overall.

Jackson Green from All Bar One prevailed in his very first competition by winning the Margarita of the Year accolade with a recipe featuring coffee tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, agave syrup, Ms Better Bitters Chocolate bitters and Maldon Salt’s Chilli Sea Salt with Aleppo & Bird's Eye Chillies.

Garner's Spirit and Mixer winner and his Martini of the Year

Garner’s Spirit and Mixer was made up of Sanpellegrino Ginger Beer, rum, lime juice, caramel syrup, aromatic bitters and Ms Better Bitters Cafe Maderas bitters. His Martini of the Year included Les vergers Boiron’s Raspberry Purée, truffle butter fat-washed vodka, Noilly Prat, olive brine, Chambord and Champagne.

The 2023 Classic Cocktail Competition was sponsored by Sanpellegrino, Anton Studio Designs, Broken Clock, Jameson Black Barrell, Les vergers Boiron, Maldon Salt, Ms. Better's Bitters, Oggs, TeaJoy and Whitley Neill Gin.