Top bartenders, a ticking clock, 80 dubious drinks and the piss-taking Paul Mant. Rematch Beeyatch!!! arrived in Berlin last night in its usual riotous fashion.
The speed-serve cocktail competition headlined Mixology magazine’s 10th birthday party in the newly opened Rocco & Sanny bar in Berlin. It was a rip-roarer of a shindig, festooned with the German bar industry’s leading lights.
For the unaccustomed, the aforementioned Beeyatch!!! is UK bartenders Paul Mant and Tim’s Stone’s creation. A less than formal contest in which the bartender has to serve nine tiki cocktails, plus a beer, in the least amount of time. The Berlin edition’s assembly of eight bartenders included Hamburg bartender Jörg Meyer, Mixology magazine’s Helmut Adam - a former bartender himself - and Modern Masters’ Torsten Spuhn.
Paul Mant, with his inimitable shouty yet compelling style, orchestrated proceedings - mostly from his wide-legged standing position that straddled both back and front bar. The winners and losers of this organised chaos are decided by the clock alone, though bartenders aren’t able to serve up any old slop. Time penalties are incurred for drinks that a customer could not be expected to pay for. In short: ‘unservable drinks’.
Which, a good few were. The complete deterioration of the highest of bartending standards is amusing to witness. As one of the judges perched at the bar, I can say that most of the drinks presented to me were crudely assembled and exhibited less balance than a drunk bear on a tightrope. But then, not many of us can make 10 different drinks in 5 minutes. Indeed this particular punter would struggle with just one in that period.
Jörg Meyer was a joy to behold. The man who brought us the Gin-Basil Smash and is surely one of the world’s great working bartenders, delivered ten drinks last night that were possibly the worst the world has ever seen. In true Rematch Beeyatch!!! spirit Meyer finished his round by pulling the cap off the beer intended for judges and drinking it himself. He seemed pleased to have been instantly disqualified.
Torsten Spuhn managed his drinks haul in 4 minutes 22 seconds, the fastest of any bartender on the night. His cocktails were also fit for purpose – that is to say they were all drinkable. He had chosen the right spirit and remembered to use it, achieved a semblance of balance between sweetness and bitterness and all his drinks contained garnishes that didn’t look like they had fallen out of a tree. Though, it was not a flawless display from Spuhn. In attempting to spray an unknown liquid from an atomiser onto one of his cocktails, he delivered a devilishly accurate, but not deliberate, shot to the face of an unexpecting woman standing next to me.
When I left “early”, at 1am, the party was really starting to swing. Rematch Beeyatch!!! indeed had set the tone – it took the piss out of an industry which at times can take itself too seriously. Being served a mojito that would have made a nice home for a newt by one of the industry’s biggest names summed that sentiment up. Add to that, a distinct paucity of sponsors at the party – also a strict rule of Rematch Beeyatch!!! – made for a very unserious, unpretentious event populated by real cocktail aficionados. An eminently fitting way to mark Mixology magazine’s achievement of ten years' serving and informing the bartending world.