Tom Gedney-Higham of Bibi’s Italianissimo in Leeds announced as the winner of the annual Northern Restaurant & Bar cocktail competition, sponsored by Whitley Neill Dry Gin, with the chance to win a once in a lifetime VIP visit to South Africa.

The final of the annual cocktail competition took place at Northern Restaurant & Bar in Manchester, sponsored by Whitley Neill Gin. The winner was Tom Gedney-Higham of Bibi’s Italianissimo in Leeds who impressed the judges with his creation Terra De Fume (translates as Smoke of the Earth) which saw Whitley Neill Dry Gin, Aperol, Lemongrass and Fresh Lemon Juice, Rooibos and Orange Syrup and Fresh Pressed Grapefruit shaken hard and served with tea leaves from Rooibos tea bags, broken Cinnamon sticks, and Cassia Bark for garnish.


The judging panel including Whitley Neill Gin founder Johnny Neill and spirits writer Joel Harrison.

“This competition provides an opportunity for bartenders to really think outside the box, and seek out unusual and interesting components from a continent rich in ingredients and flavour, said Joel Harrison.

“The four finalists managed this, with the winner, Tom, balancing out the core personality of Whitley Neill Gin with his unique cocktail, which was refreshing, well balanced and easy to drink.”

Tom will be visiting South Africa in late 2017 as the guest of Whitley Neill Dry Gin, which has previously beaten off the challenge from the World’s finest gin brands by winning gold at San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2014. The visit will also include a 1 day safari.

Competitors had been asked to submit one unique drink, containing a minimum of 35 ml of any Whitley Neill Dry Gin expression, and adding inspiration of the gin’s South Africa influence.

The other finalists were Bettina Kovacs, Dishoom, Edinburgh; Jenny Griffiths, Ten Mill Lane, Cardiff and Lükas Alberti, Three Six Six (Battersea), London.

Northern Restaurant & Bar is the biggest hospitality show in the North. The show’s Spirit Room is the largest curated selection of spirit brands on show outside London. As well as the Whitley Neill Dry Gin cocktail competition, the Drinks Live theatre featured a line-up of tutored tastings and masterclasses from some of the best names in the business.

Northern Restaurant & Bar returns to Manchester on 20-21 March 2018.

For cocktail lovers, here is the winning recipe from Thomas Gedney-Higham (Bibi’s Italianissimo, Leeds).

Cocktail: Terra De Fume (Translates as Smoke of the Earth)

Glass: Cut Old Fashioned


  • 45ml Whitley Neill Dry Gin 15ml Aperol
  • 15ml Lemongrass and Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 10ml Rooibos and Orange Syrup
  • 25ml Fresh Pressed Grapefruit


Rooibos and Orange Syrup – 300ml hot water + 8 Rooibos tea bags. Allow to brew over moderate heat for 1 hour. Add 4 large orange peels and remove from heat. Allow to steep overnight at room temperature. Using muslin cloth remove all ingredients from base liquid. Add 75g of Brown Sugar. Simmer at 120c until the product reduces to approximately 50-100ml. Strain again with Muslin cloth and bottle.

Lemongrass & Lemon Juice – juice 5 whole lemons. Juice 4 sticks of lemon grass. Allow to steep in a fridge for 1 day. Store in refrigerator.

Chill glass with crushed ice.

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker, shake hard over cubed ice. Discard crushed ice from glassware and refill with crushed ice. Strain product over crushed ice.

Garnish with dehydrated grapefruit wheel and cassia bark (cinnamon bark). Serve on top of a large dark wooden block (representative of Table Mountain overlooking Cape Town)

At base of the cocktail glass, sprinkle tea leaves from Rooibos tea bags, broken cinnamon sticks and cassia bark, to represent the 2200 plants that grow on Table Top Mountain.

Finally burn the cinnamon sticks and tea leaves to represent Terra De Fume.

Whitley Neill Gin is a handcrafted range of premium gins inspired by some of the world’s most beautiful and mysterious places. The original Whitley Neill Gin is inspired by South Africa and the more recent Whitley Neill Quince Gin is inspired by the timeless flavours of Persia. Distilled in small batches by Johnny Neill, a direct descendant of Thomas Greenall and the last in a long line of distillers, Whitley Neill Gin brings together eight generations of expertise and a lifelong love of adventure. The result is a range of inimitable, award winning gins that skilfully blend and balance the very best botanicals.

Drinks Enthusiast: Dave Marsland has been working as the Drinks Enthusiast since 2011 in Manchester, specialising in journalism, including writing for CLASS Magazine and Imbibe, event curation, with highlights such as the Northern Restaurant and Bar, owner of the Manchester Rum Festival and Riddles Emporium, and finally brand development with a portfolio that currently consists of Langley’s gin, Double Dutch mixers and Warner Edwards gin, as well as being Brand Ambassador and Digital Marketing Manager for Emporia Brands.

For more information on Dave Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast, please visit or follow Drinks Enthusiast on Twitter or Facebook.

Leave a reply