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A cocktail competition to lift your spirits

With bars closed, drinks events cancelled or postponed, and restrictions to stay home as much as possible, there’s no opportunity for your usual bartending activities.

With this in mind, at Bars and Clubs we’ve been thinking up ways to keep entertained and engaged at home – one of which is by thinking up funky new cocktails. So we were super excited to find out about Anther Spirits was thinking the same thing!

They’ve created the Anther Stay Connected Cocktail Competition, a Facebook group to bring people together via social media, celebrating creativity and fun. Entrants just need to film themselves making a cocktail, and upload it to the group, with the Anther team choosing the top video of each week to receive a bottle of their gin.

The rules are simple: you must be over 18, you must use something from your pantry, you must wash your hands first, and you must maintain social distancing in your video. There are no ingredient, prop or timing restrictions, and pet cameos are encouraged.

Anther’s Co-founder and Distiller, Dervilla McGowan, said the idea largely came from time her and her team spent in quarantine weeks earlier. Also in isolation at the time was Fever Tree Ambassador Trish Brew, who had been at the same event that caused the quarantine for McGowan.

“We were all in quarantine, and Trish and her team at home, they SodaStreamed a liqueur just in their kitchen. When they SodaStreamed this liqueuer it was a normal colour, and then when they went to take it off, it just went white… they just lifted their hands off and backed away and went whoa!” McGowan told Bars and Clubs.

“At the time I think I was at day five of my quarantine and I was absolutely wound up, I couldn’t leave my house, I was trying to work out how to survive in my head. And that moment of something going wrong in someone’s house, in a normal place, at this extraordinarily abnormal time, it just lifted my spirits and made me laugh out loud.”

Being distracted from what she was going through, with entertainment and connection to the industry, helped McGowan in the time she needed it most. She realised that that would be valuable for the wellbeing of many others now finding themselves in isolation too.

For that reason, it’s not so much a technical cocktail competition, and judging is based on the entertainment factor.

“It’s not about the best cocktail or the most beautifully made videos. It’s actually about the funniest or light things that will lighten your spirits during this time. And the other thing is that it allows people to see familiar faces, and engage with people online in a light and happy way. It’s been really fun,” McGowan said.

The group currently has 353 members and counting, and have crowned three winners so far, as well as some honourable mentions. It’s open to anyone, both professional bartenders and others who love cocktails and want to join in on the fun.

Anther primarily wanted to provide a unique outlet of support for the industry, throughout uncertainty and a storm of craziness that has come with the pandemic.

“We realised that we wouldn’t be getting many gin sales for the coming few months, and we just decided to change our focus from selling gin to trying to support our community,” McGowan said.

It’s been really great to report on positive movements like this from the industry lately, even though it’s an incredibly tough time. McGowan agreed and said she has been so impressed at the resilience of the community.

“Looking around the industry, there’s a lot of people doing amazing things… There’s a whole heap of things we can chat to keep people’s spirits up and keep them looking forward and keep them a little bit distracted as we go forward,” McGowan said.

“We’ve got such a beautiful industry that’s very supportive, very resilient, and strong. I think that that’s been shown in all of our social media and how people maintaining connection. I just think the whole hospitality industry should be congratulated for how positive and strong they’re staying in this very tough time.”

Join the Anther Stay Connected Cocktail Competition group here.

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