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Newcastle mixologist voted best in the UK with cocktail inspired by a charity shop!

A mixologist from Newcastle has been voted the second-best mixologist in the world and top in the UK in a world-wide gin-making competition.

Joseph Miller, a bartender at Blackfriars Restaurant on Friars Street in Newcastle, beat 272 mixologists from 18 countries in the #Brocktail contest organised by Brockman’s Gin. 

In first place came Maksim Evseev, chief bartender at the Brothers Bar and Grill in Vladivostok, Russia and third was Andrea Forni from La Gintoneria di Davide in Milan, Italy. All three finalists have won an expenses-paid trip of a lifetime as guests of Brockmans Gin to ‘Tales of the Cocktail’ in New Orleans, an annual magnet for the bartending profession for which Joseph is currently learning more about his trade and enjoying the sites of New Orleans.

The competition attracted a record number of nominations and voting was entirely by members of the public which had 30,000 votes in the run-up to World Gin Day 2019.

Joseph’s winning cocktail was inspired by the city’s charity shops and was called Ping’s Obsession. 

He said:  “There was no particular theme to the competition which was quite hard for me as I like to have a theme.  I got inspiration from walking around charity shops in Newcastle looking at various drinking vessels. I found a set of two ducks which seemed ideal.”

The idea was forming in Joseph’s head of a far-eastern slant to his cocktail competition entry and he also referenced a 1933 children’s book, Ping, about a little duck that gets lost in the Yangtse River.

He added: “I began to piece Asian-style elements together for the cocktail. Brockmans is an unusual gin so my idea had to be unusual.

“I kept checking the leader board online every day and I was in the final four the day before deadline.  The winner and two finalists got to go to New Orleans, so I was delighted to come second. Tales of the Cocktail is a huge festival with seminars and tastings – and all pretty cool.”

Andy, Hook, managing director of Blackfriars Restaurant & Parlour Bar said: “We are so proud of Joseph winning this competition – he is an amazing mixologist and is always coming up with new and creative cocktails for our guests.  The news that he’s been voted the best in the UK is testament to his passion and hard work.  We’ll be adding his cocktail to our menu for customers to try”.

Blackfriars Parlour Bar is located next to the restaurant on Friars Street and is the oldest standing bar in Newcastle, having been the original Parlour for the Dominican Friars when guests came to visit the city.  For the last 18 years it was a gift shop called Pheonix Antiques and in 2017  the team at Blackfriars Restaurant took over occupancy of the Parlour. It’s now open throughout the day and evening  serving coffee, tea, wine, cocktails and beer from 11am-midnight.

Enjoy Ping’s Obsession or other cocktail in the Parlour Bar and take advantage of Blackfriars’ 2 for £10 offer which is available from 5-7pm Monday - Thursday. No need to eat in the restaurant. Expires 26 November 2019.

Joseph is currently taking part in two more competitions - FentimansThe Summer of Rose competition’ and OPHIHR Global Cocktail competition. 


If you’d like to Joseph’s award-winning cocktail at home here’s how to make it:

The recipe for Joseph’s Ping’s Obsession is as follows:

50ml Brockmans Gin
25ml yuzu juice
20ml blackberry and sage syrup
2 dashes of saline solution 
2 dashes of Ms. Better's Bitters Miraculous Foamer 

Add all ingredients into a Boston tin and dry shake
Add ice and shake again
Dry shake for a final time
Double strain into glass