Bartenders draw swords in Blood Mary challenge

Seven of London’s top bartenders did battle at the inaugural Tabasco British Bloody Mary Challenge in Selfridges’ Hix Restaurant & Champagne Bar.

Contestants created a classic and alternative Bloody Mary, before a judging panel that included chef Mark Hix, mixologist Nick Strangeway and food writers Tom Parker-Bowles and Charles Campion.

The classic round, won by Jake Burger of Portobello Star in London, saw bartenders mix the staple ingredients of tomato juice, sauce, Tabasco, vodka, lemon, salt and pepper.

Burger said: “The Bloody Mary is the benchmark for any barman; I just did the one I make in the bar. I didn’t want to over complicate things with anything flash.”

Winner of the alternative round, Pete Jeary of Hawksmoor Seven Dials in London, joins Burger in winning a three-day trip to New Orleans.

Jeary’s version of the Bloody Mary saw Tabasco Chipotle and a broth made from bacon and clams mixed with the base ingredients.

He said: “I’ve been making Bloody Marys for 17-18 years, but I’ve never known what my favourite cocktail is. Now I know it’s the Bloody Mary.”

Strangeway, who in 2008 won the title of Best Mixologist at Tales Of the Cocktail World in New Orleans, and currently works with Hix at two of his London restaurants, noted an “incredible difference” between the Bloody Marys on show.

Speaking about Burger’s winning classic Bloody Mary he said “it was the best balanced of them all”, while in the alternative category he described Jeary’s drink as “the most innovative”.

“In both cases I would go back and have another one,” he added.