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What could be better on a Tuesday in Brighton than not one, but two Cocktail mixing competitions? The first, at Merkaba, was to choose 3 of the best of Brighton bar tenders to represent Brighton at the Bar Tenders Association finals in London in September. The event, sponsored by Maxxium and Brugal Rum, was judged by Andrew Scutts of Brighton's Boutique Bar, Chris Cox and David Miles of Maxxium/Brugal.
There was an excellent turnout of competitors - 11 in all - so competition was fierce. Elaine Larkin from Valentino, Adam Dempster and Thomas German from Madam Geisha, Emma Fearnley, Simon Robinson, Harry and Raf, all from MyHotel, and usual suspects Ehren Khoo-Steel from Caprichios, Francois Monin from Lucky Voice, Sam Sigwick from Above Audio, and 'Polish Pete' Mierzwa from Hotel Seattle completed the field.
The tasks they were set were to make two unique cocktails with Brugal Rum as the main spirit - the first using their own supplementary ingredients prepared in advance. The second task was to come up with a cocktail using as many ingredients as possible from a "Mystery Box" each contestant was given. These had been prepared cunningly [and in some case quite fiendishly I suspect!] by Mixology Group's Myles Cunliffe to stretch the creative skills of the participants. Each mystery box contained a selection from amongst the following: Exotic and more familiar fresh and dried fruits including tamarind, passion fruit, pomegranate, figs, dates, apricots and cherries, [and things I couldn't begin to guess at] were included along with sticky substances such as treacle, chutney and fig syrup, spicy challenges like chillies, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise, all garnished with fresh herbs: basil, sage, coriander, tarragon and mint. After a couple of minutes familiarising themselves with the ingredients contestants had 5 minutes in which to devise their drink.

Emma Fearnley of MyHotel was the overall winner, but I seem to have mislaid the results for the 2 runners up who will accompany Emma to the Bar Tender's Association finals in London in September. But after 22 cocktails one's memory does get a little compromised… An amazing job from the judges, the delicious Brugal Rum, all the contestants and Mixology Myles in the fabulous setting off Merkaba. Onwards and upwards to Alfresco for the evening round…

For more on Mixology Group fun go to

All photos ©Julia Claxton.
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Keywords:Brighton, Brighton & Hove Festival of Food and Drink, Brighton Bartenders Association, Brighton Mix Off, Cocktail, bartender, competition