The Graphic Gin Off, the Britain-based competition widely known as the FA Cup of Gin, is officially on. Starting today, July 18, 16 gin distilleries will vie for spirit domination.
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The first matchup, scheduled for today for 6:00 p.m. BST (1:00 EST), features last year’s champion, Martin Millers, who will defend their title against Boodles, Tarquin’s Cornish Gin and Sipsmith. Other competitors include Bols Genever, Boxer Gin, Copper Head, East London Liquor Company, Hayman’s, Pink Pepper, Silent Pool, Slingsby, Thomas Dakin, Ungava and Whitley Neill.
The annual gin competition is held at the Graphic Bar in Soho, London. Distillers from all over enter and advance through a series of elimination rounds. Smaller distillers like Silent Pool get to go head-to-head with some of England’s biggest brands — like Boodles and Sipsmith — mirroring the FA Cup, which pits smaller second league English clubs against bigger Premier League clubs.
In each round, four gin distillers go head-to-head with cocktails featuring their gins. Then, paying audience members taste each drink and vote on their favorite. The winning distiller advances to the next round, and so on, until a winner is determined.
The final takes place in November, and the winning cocktail will be featured on Graphic’s 2017 menu.
Check back for play-by-play updates.
UPDATE: Defending champions Martin Miller’s and Pink Pepper advanced through to the semifinals after a matchup against Slingsby and Copperhead.
Slingsby did their best with a gin-infused muffin cocktail, but it simply wasn’t enough to beat Martin Miller’s two-toned Fire and Ice slushy.
Stay tuned for the next leg of the quarterfinals on September 19th, which will feature last year’s runner-up Whitley Neil, as well as Hayman’s, East London Liquor Company and Boodles.