When LAB, a highly-respected bar amongst career bartenders, organized a “It’s a Rematch!!! Beeyatch!!!”-event in London, It. Was. On. One night of total bartending carnage, to finally see who’s the fastest bartender of them all. As we are a bartender school, EBS London wanted in on the action, so three instructors stepped up, along with their temporary bartender hooligans, who we normally refer to as students.
What is this “Rematch!!!Beeyatch!!!” exactly?
Remember that scene in Zoolander, where Derek challenges Hansel “he’s-so-hot-right-now” McDonald to a walk-off and David Bowie carefully judges their performance? Well, “It’s a Rematch!!! Beeyatch!!!” is the career-bartender equivalent, where twenty bartenders pay £50 and battle in an insane speed contest where the winner takes all. The contest’s been around for a while now, and since one of its main rules is no corporate sponsorship, it is as real as it gets.
How you do it doesn’t matter, as long as you create 10 drinks the fastest way possible – and unless you want 5 second penalties, the drinks have to look and taste like they would in a respectable establishment.
Since its creation, this competition has been organized all around the world, with the same exact rules. Every competitor makes the nine required cocktails, and finished his set by opening op a beer (the tenth drink). The timer stops, the judges inspect the drinks and a time is awarded.
Even though some of the drinks are almost rammed and thrown into the glasses, they have to taste and look good enough as not to upset a customer, otherwise the judges will apply a 5-second penalty or even disqualify you. The official set of drinks is 2 daiquiris, 1 mojito, 1 caipirinha, 1 mai-tai, 1 zombie, 1 planter’s punch, 1 cuba libre, 1 piña colada and of course, a beer. Judges have a score sheet, a timer and will calculate your official time by adding possible penalties for “unservable” cocktails.
One month for EBS to get ready
Having the perfect setup of several bar stations at EBS London, Jumbles, Julien and Flavius experimented with the bar setup, efficient speed rail organization and pour counts. Additional seconds could be shaved off by improving grips, trying different moves and efficient icing on the glasses. And even though their perfect times swayed back and forth between 1.25 and 1.40, the guys knew the unfamiliar surrounding of a new bar, the incessant heckling of the crowd and being well outside your comfort zone was going to affect performance.
Jumbles “sets the bar”
When we were kindly invited inside, the bar was already half full. A mixed crowd of Sunday afternoon drinkers, EBS students showing their support and of course the toughest crowd of them all; fellow bartenders! As the first competitors arranged their setup, LAB was reaching its full capacity. The event had turned into a boiling cauldron of thirsty cocktail aficionados, and for the contestants there was no time to think anymore – you blink, you lose!
First up was Jumbles, our valued EBS instructor who displayed some incredible pouring techniques while last year’s winner Stuart Hudson watched from the background. Jumbles his lime, lemon and sugar cross pour wowed the crowd, and after spilling half his piña colada on the bar top, he finished his round in an impressive one minute and 45 seconds.
Right up after Jumbles was Flavius, who seemed in trance during his set:
Being cold as ice paid off, because Flavius executed a perfect round and even caught an unfortunate pour of Orgeat (it’s an almond-based syrup) and grenadine that could have meant immediate disqualification.
Flavius ended his set with a time of one minute and 46 seconds, followed by a high-five to intimidate the competition.
Not only did Flavius and Jumbles pretty much set the benchmark with their times, the bottles were getting stickier and the crowd was getting louder and louder. So times were steadily increasing to 2.10, 2.55 and even a 3.55. That is, until our instructor Julien stepped up to his set.
Fired on by the EBS students, and determined to keep up with the other competitors, Julien made the sticky bottles work once more and squeezed out an impressive one minute and 51 seconds.
Far into the competition, the EBS crew were the only bartenders who scored under two minutes, provoking some people to resort to desperate measures.
Maybe we got too cocky, we’ll never know, but the total domination of the European Bartender School came to an end when last year’s winner Stuart Hudson stepped behind the bar.
Other bartenders watched in disbelief, people tried filming what was happening, and when the dust settled, Stuart had finished his round in one minute and 39 seconds.
After Stuart’s impressive performance, the rest of the contest was just another day at the circus, with bartenders mostly just enjoying themselves, wearing whatever they felt like during their set. I’d feel weird accepting a drink from a bartender wearing nipple tassels, but tonight was a special night…
A big thank you to all the competitors who took part, LAB bar and its amazing staff for their help and always greeting us when we visit with EBS, Oana our fantastic photographer and finally congratulations to Stuart Hudson for cashing the £1000. EBS London will be back…