Following an 18 month break, the team behind the Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Festival return this year with Bite Sussex, a new twice yearly festival to celebrate all that’s good to eat and drink in the city and surrounding county. [This story first appeared in the Brighton Argus on 11 June 2021]
With the hospitality – and wider food and drink industry – being one of the hardest hit sectors of the UK economy during the pandemic, initiatives such as Bite Sussex are essential not only in terms of promoting Brighton and the surrounding county as a gastronomic tourism destination but also in bringing together local restaurants, bars, hotels and retails with quality local producers and farmers.
In conjunction with Hove-based Mixology Group, Bite Sussex’s first activation is a cocktail competition for bartenders across the county. Throughout June, bar professionals are being asked to mix-up cocktails with spirits from local distillers including Bolney Gin, Brighton Gin, Brooksteed Gin, Madame Jennifer Distillery and Slake Spirits.
“The craft spirits scene in Sussex continues to go from strength-to-strength”, said Nathalie Gomez de Vera, co-director of Bite Sussex.
“With so much creativity and energy out there, we thought that right now was the perfect time to put Sussex-based spirits on the map”.
Alongside the spirits, further local producers are providing ingredients for the cocktail competition including Fitz sparkling wine, MDTEA, Redroaster coffee and Wobblegate juices.
“It’s a really exciting box of goodies”, continued Nathalie. “We can’t wait to see the Sussex-themed cocktails that our colleagues in the local bar industry come up with”.
Participating bars include Twisted Lemon, Medusa, Merkaba, Ohso Social, The Joker, Golden Pineapple and Macmillans with restaurants and hotels also getting involved including The Grand, Pitch, Etch, The Coal Shed, Metrodeco, Lucky Khao and the Eight Bells in Jevington.
The ultimate aim of the cocktail competition is to ensure more locally produced food and drink is on the menus, lists and shelves of hospitality businesses and retailers in Sussex.
“Sussex has so much to offer in terms of food and drink”, said Nathalie.
“We genuinely are one of the best counties in the UK for quality produce, drinking and dining. Making and shaking Sussex cocktails allows us and our partners to create some noise about that both locally and nationally”.
The live finals of the Sussex Surprise cocktail competition will be hosted in August at My Brighton hotel in Jubilee Street with a panel of industry judges.
Bite Sussex will also be hosting a Producers Showcase event to connect hospitality buyers with local makers and farmers on Brighton Palace Pier on Monday 5 July. The Bite Sussex Autumn food and drink festival will run at venues county-wide from Friday 10 - Sunday 19 September. Find out more at www.bitesussex.com