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Cocktail connoisseur mixes it up with low-alcohol drink

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A MASTER mixologist wowed judges with a carefully crafted cocktail in a competition with a twist.

Alistair Bell of The Flint House in Brighton had his drink named as one of the best in the South East in a competition to make the tastiest low-alcohol cocktail in time for Dry January.

Finalists were set a Ready Steady Cook style challenge in which they had to create a cocktail from a box of mystery ingredients which included no-alcohol aperitifs and Binary 0.5 – a tangy flavoured low-alcohol beer.

Alistair decided to serve the expert judging panel their just deserts, delivering a drink called B.A.N.A.N.A – which stood for binaries are not always neatly aligned.

It was given this name as it used Binary Botanical, a low-alcohol beer, as its secret ingredient.

The tipple offered tasters an array of delicious ginger shortbread and banana flavours and was a hit with judges, earning Alistair the runner-up spot.

He was narrowly toppled by Jamie Proud from The Pound in Canterbury, who made a low-alcohol take on a Bloody Mary using asparagus and red onion syrup to add a savoury flavour to the sweet tomato juice.

Umberto Di Fede of the Hilton Brighton Metropole also represented the city in the final of the contest.

The competition was held at Michelin-starred restaurant L’ortolan near Reading in Berkshire on Monday.

Each drink was scrutinised by a team of expert judges made up of Laura Willoughby, cofounder of Club Soda (a mindful drinking movement), James Purcell Lacey, bar manager at the Coppa Club, seasoned beer taster Dr Frieda Derhmann and L’ortolan’s sommelier and restaurant manager Marco Nardi.

Laura Willoughby said: “It is really exciting that the new wave of low and no alcohol drinks are providing a stunning range of new ingredients for cocktails – as a base and a mixer.

“There were some great examples of that today. We are just at the start of this new market in low and no alcohol drinks and it gives bartenders and the industry as a whole a new opportunity to experiment and delight customers.

“Beer makes a great cocktail ingredient and I would like to see it used more.

“It really helps move an alcohol-free cocktail from being a mix of kids’ drinks in a posh glass to a refined drink designed for adults.”

Fellow judge Marco Nardi praised the South East for its variety and quality of restaurants offering a diverse range of food and drink.

He said: “The South East has an important concentration of good restaurants and bars but lacks visibility compared to London.

“I believe in the next few years they will represent more of a challenge to the Londoners’ bars.

“What we need to do is to support and promote the talent that we have in the region.

“I think no and low-alcohol cocktails will only increase in popularity as people start to focus on wellbeing and the younger generation become less infatuated with alcohol.”

The competition was organised by Good Living Brewery.

The company was launched in 2018 by a group who boasted decades of experience in the global industry.

But they found themselves frustrated by an unfulfilled desire for “a moderate alcoholic beverage that would pair well with food”.

So they founded the brewery to “bring the light refreshment and everyday nature of beer to a broader audience”.

Co-founder Danielle Bekker said: “Our goal in launching this competition was to celebrate low and no-alcohol cocktails and we were blown away by the industry’s enthusiasm and the number and quality of entries.

“The range of flavours, infusions and presentation far exceeded our expectations.”

The Dry January Cocktail Competition will run the competition again in 2021.

The Flint House is a restaurant which can be found in Hanningtons Lane, the newest addition to Brighton’s Lanes shopping district.

It is owned by the Gingerman Restaurant Group which owns several other successful restaurants in Sussex.

The first, called The Gingerman, opened in Norfolk Square, Brighton, in 1998.

It was followed by The Ginger Fox in the South Downs, The Ginger Pig in Hove Street, Hove, and The Ginger Dog in Kemp Town.

The Flint House is the latest member of the group.

It opened last year and offers “counter-level dining, small plates with beautiful wines by the glass, a glamorous first-floor cocktail bar and rooftop terrace”.

Read this and more articles at Argus - Business

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