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Off to Alfresco on the beach with its iconic view of the West Pier as a backdrop to round 3 of Mixology Group's Brighton Mix Off Cocktail Mixing competition - the mystery round. Sponsored by Monkey Shoulder Whisky in association with First Drinks the judges for this round were regular Andrew Kay [Latest Magazine], First Drink's Emily Warner, Mixology Group's Zoe Cunliffe and Host bar Alfresco's Ivana Korenova.

Tonight's task was to come up with a cocktail, based on Monkey Shoulder Whisky sass the main spirit, using as many ingredients as possible from a "Mystery Box" each contestant was given. These had once again 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 Exotic and more familiar fresh and dried fruits along with sticky substances such as treacle and chutney, spicy and herby challenges After a couple of minutes familiarising themselves with the ingredients contestants had 5 minutes in which to devise their drink.

Some interesting newcomers in this round, not the least of whom was young Dan Warren of Brown's who put up with a lot of good natured ribbing about whether he was actually old enough to drink, never mind mix a cocktail. This must have made what was to become his victory all the sweeter! Paulina Michalak of Brighton Rocks had to put up with her own share of the jesting when her [what I thought was rather a tasty] cocktail turned out to have been missing the main ingredient - Monkey Shoulder whisky [But then I don't like anyone messing with my whisky either, preferring it straight, so its a good thing I wasn't judging!] Other contestants were Ben Manchester [Hotel du Vin], Ehren Khoo-Steel [Caprichios], Flo Quillere [Above Audio], Francois Monin [Lucky Voice], Emma Fearnley [MyHotel] Piotr Mierzwa [Hotel Seattle], and Yann Rabasse [Merkaba]

Tuesday 23rd is the final qualifying round at Madame Geisha - so come and join in the fun from 7 and sample a cocktail or two. Last free entry before Brighton & Hove Food & Drink Festival finals on Brighton Pier on September 1st!

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