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Competition rivals working together to put Aberdeen on the map

Published:  26 May, 2016

Three bartenders from Aberdeen who have reached the final of a national bartending competition say that competitions have become a sure-fire way to turn a city into drinking hotspot.

Three out of the five finalists for Monkey Shoulder malt whisky's Ultimate Bartender Championship finalists are based in Aberdeen.

Heats took place across 15 locations in the UK, but the Scottish city emerged as the destination with the "pulling" power.

Nick Gordon, 24, Assistant Manager at Orchid, says this achievement is a testament to the community ethos among Aberdeen's bars - and highlights how important this is for a small city to compete with the big players. 

He said: "We're a small city and a massively close community. Everyone knows everyone, so if you don't get on doesn't work. A manager of another bar was over here the other day borrowing some of our kit.

"What we're trying to do collectively is to raise Aberdeen's profile, and it seems to be working. We've had a strong bartending culture here for a while, but a lot of our bartenders have won competitions recently and people are starting to take notice."

As well as throwing themselves into the competition circuit, new companies are also starting up in the city.

Gin is now being distilled for the first time in Aberdeen in 100 years with Porter's Gin, which was set up by Orchid founder Ben Iravani.

There is also newcomer Dr Adam Elnegirab's Teapot Bitters, which is a loose replica of Boker's bitters popular in the 19th century.

Gordon's co-finalist, Cameron Woodger, 22, from Ninety-Nine Bar, also stressed the importance of the competitions for building connections in the industry.

He said: "Making connections with important people is just as important as winning the title. There's a whole new generation of bartenders super keen on entering competitions. A new competition has been organised in bars across Aberdeen for bartenders with less than two years experience to build their confidence.

"Usually things start in London, then spread to Edinburgh and Glasgow. It's exciting to see so many bartenders getting involved from Aberdeen."

Photo by Grant Anderson at