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Douglas Blyde blog: Made in Yorkshire cocktail competition

Published:  02 August, 2011

The final of the inaugural cocktail competition Made in Yorkshire took place at Leeds' 13th floor SkyLounge at the Mint Hotel on August 1, a day officially designated Yorkshire Day. As well as the city's nightlife, organisers Welcome to Yorkshire and SLB Public Relations intended the event to highlight the county's bounty of local produce. Consequently competitors were required to include a minimum of one local ingredient whether wine, rhubarb, carrot or relish.

From 10 finalists judges including Simon Difford (Diffords Guide, Class Magazine), Christine Austin (Yorkshire Post) and myself, awarded SkyLounge's resident mixologist Dean Railton first prize for his unusual take on the Gibson cocktail featuring Sage and Onion.

Introducing himself, Railton said: "Leeds is the friendliest place in the whole world. I've been here seven years and have only left for a total of three weeks. Looking at the city's skyline, it successfully fuses old and new - like my drink."

Unusually, his mint green drink's ingredient list comprised 15ml of vinegar from artisan producer Womersley in Micklefield which features lemon, basil, bay and juniper. This was combined with Noilly Prat vermouth and Hereford vodka Chase and then garnished with fresh sage from Bradford and a red onion ring. Railton asserted the formula: "I like to push against trends so I've made my drink wet drink as a stand against the ever drying martini. This way it's also more accessible."

Prior to SkyLounge Railton trained at TGI Friday's, rating the hands-on experience during which he had to memorise some 400 cocktails as "invaluable". As well as working up to six days a week at SkyLounge, Railton finds time to study an MA in philosophy at Leeds University and ultimately hopes to earn a PhD. Philosophy and bartending go hand in hand he says. "Most of the great philosophers were known to enjoy a drink."

Delighted by his win which represents his highest mixology related accolade to date, Railton received a bespoke Alessi cocktail shaker.