Hitting the right key with No.3

Running a successful food website takes a lot of work, but from time to time we get to reap some pretty fantastic rewards as well, and being invited to judge No.3 Gin’s latest cocktail competition, “Hit the right key” is one of those rather marvellous rewards.

No.3 is an interesting gin from the start, made by Berry Bros & Rudd, London’s oldest wine & spirit merchant. No.3 contains just six botanicals, it is both simple and perfectly balanced.

No.3 Gin - Garden 2

Juniper, grapefruit peel, orange peel, angelica root, coriander and cardamom give this gin a wonderful blend of spice and aroma to make a wonderfully refreshing G&T

The competition “hit the right key” challenged the south west’s best bartenders to create a classic twist on the G&T. The winner of the Bristol heat would go through to the final to receive

  • a behind the scenes tour of the Royal Albert Hall, (home of the Berry Bros. & Rudd bar),
  • drinks at the mecca of the Gin Martini, Dukes Hotel, and
  • a tour of Berry Bros. & Rudd at No.3 St James Street.

The five finalists will compete to receive an engraved crystal decanter from The Redman Emerald Collection by David Redman.

The Bristol heat saw some truly fantastic innovation on our classic G&T in the cellar bar of the Rummer. Twelve contenders battled to the death (well not quite) to show off their mixology skills, innovation and creative flair. A multi-sensory mad hatters tea party from Papajis, friend inspired tonics with healing properties from Goldbrick House, hangover cures from Harry’s in Exeter, Martini mash ups from the Rummer and Hotel du Vin, and Devonshire cream tea from Starz, Exeter.

My personal highlights were:

WINNER: Curious No.3, Matt Fairhurst, Milk Thistle
A big congratulations to Matt Fairhurst, who won the South West heat with his cocktail, The Curious No.3. Matt’s cocktail played heavily on the botanicals from No.3, turning the classic G&T on its head with all the flavours of a G&T but a completely unique sensory experience.

Matt showed a real understanding of the flavours of the spirit and how best to showcase them. Interesting and innovative – a deserving winner.


No.3 Gin - Milk Thistle - Matt


No.3 Gin Lane, Chelsie Bailey, The Rummer, Bristol
Chelsie from the Rummer also played on the No.3 aspect of the gin when it came to her cocktail to create a simple, elegant and thoroughly elegant drink.

Chelsie’s choice of bitters from Thomas Henry complimented the botanicals of No.3 and half an egg white gave this drink beautiful depth and body. I could have drank this all night – it was that good.

12 at Big Ben, Bella Rouge, Circo, Bath
Beautifully presented in a blue hurricane glass, Bella of Circo played on the curry flavours and spices from the gin with her homemade tonic, lavender and pink peppercorn bitters. I particularly liked her use of lavender to both stir and garnish the drink, subtle, understated, but a nice touch.

Beautifully presented in a blue hurricane glass, 12 at Big Ben celebrated the wonderful heritage of No.3 and made a beautiful drink.

No.3 Gin - Circo - Bella

No.42, Annie Mason, Hyde & Co, Bristol
Annie’s take on the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster from Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy was truly out of this world.

Featuring dry ice, creme de menthe, homemade tonic, and fossilised sharks teeth in ice. Weird and wonderful you had to see it to believe it.

No.3 Pink G&T, James Bridges, Hausbar, Bristol
Hausbar’s James Bridges really made the most of the trio with his Pink G&T. three ingredients in his homemade tonic, three in his floral sugar, three components in the G&T and garnished with three roses.

It looked fantastic and was skillfully prepared, for me the gentian root in the tonic made it too bitter but overall a simple and elegant drink.

No.3 Gin - Hausbar - James

All in all a fantastic afternoon and the opportunity to not only try a fantastic spirit but to see more of the fantastic skill which resides in the heart of Bristol’s buzzing cocktail scene. Very best of luck to Matt for the final in July.

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