Shaken and speed: meet the mixologist who is bringing the cocktail theatre at the Festival of Speed

06th June 2024
Pairing magical flavours and concocting must-try cocktails, Brandon Ambrose is poised to serve up a flamboyant and memorable experience at Goodwood’s new and exclusive hospitality enclosure, the Surtees Pavilion…

Written by Rebecca Denne


Picture the scene: beautifully created and locally sourced food served up by a Michelin-star chef, Ollie Dabbous; top-class viewing of all the on-track Festival of Speed action, plus an array of show-stopping cocktails from an award-winning flair and mixology expert to wow you. In short, the perfect day. 

Brandon Ambrose (@freelancebartending) has travelled the world, honing his skills behind the bar and he’s bringing them and plenty of get-your-camera moments to Goodwood Festival of Speed for an exclusive VIP hospitality package

Here, Brandon shares how he’s worked closely with Ollie Dabbous to pair his creations with the seasonal flavours that Ollie will be serving on his menu and gives us a few teasers about what you can expect come July…


How did you get into the world of mixology? 

I've been making drinks look pretty and pouring liquid into glasses for about 15 years now. My first ever job was in a pub and then I went onto work in a few cocktail bars and managed some nightclubs. It’s then that I discovered the art of flair, which is essentially throwing bottles and things around! I was competing in flair for several years and in 2018 I was in the top 15 flair bartenders in the UK.

That must have been quite an experience 

Well, I really started to come into my own and started pairing food with drinks and delving into flavour profiles. I’ve worked with many Michelin-star chefs over my time in the Saudi Formula One to Formula II and traveled to about 17 different countries in 2019, just before lockdown. I was the Head of Beverage for Saudi Formula One, so spent a lot of time creating recipes and associating them with motorsport. Since then, I've been consulting for catering companies and coming up with drinks for specific events – pairing food and drinks is definitely my forté. 

How do you get your inspiration for your cocktails?

One thing I love doing, especially in Saudi Arabia, was going to local food markets and just looking at the spices and the smells – it’s a real assault on the senses. You can hear the bustle, you can even smell the food and see the beautiful colours of the old buildings. I love just tasting new things that I've never seen before, too. It’s about getting inspiration from other countries by just looking at the local cuisine, seeing what the locals use in their recipes and trying to understand why they balance the flavours the way that they do and see if I can incorporate that into my own recipes.

So tell us what you’re going to be doing at the Festival of Speed

I'll be in the Surtees Pavilion, a new hospitality area at Goodwood, serving up a variety of my creations. I have taken some core elements and core flavour pairings that chef Ollie Dabbous will be serving, which has been simple as he’s using some fantastic local ingredients, and I’ve gone away and carried them through the cocktail menu I’ll be serving.

How has Goodwood inspired your cocktail creations? 

My business partner and I have undergone a resurgence of an idea that we had many years ago. We wanted to create something that is fast and pretty, a bit like most motorsports. On event, we’ll be serving drinks to guest’s tables using a lot of theatre. We'll be using smoke from a smoking gun that contains the bark from a Goodwood tree, as well as some pretty impressive airs and foams. We have one drink which is the Truffle Martini that has flavoured bubbles on top, so as you take a sip, the bubbles burst in your nose and you get this beautiful concoction of salt and truffle that pairs really well with one of Ollie’s dishes on the menu. It’ll be a real sensory experience.


Four exclusive cocktails to try at The Festival of Speed:

  • Lychee Caviar: The garnish on this one is very exciting, it's fruity caviar suspended in a hardened sugar splash. I have created this using a specific molecular mixology method, one of many we have incorporated within the menu. We have also infused our own gin concoction using the botanicals found locally to Goodwood, which really brings out the flavours of the gin in this lychee martini twist. And like all of the garnishes in the menu, everything is edible. The inspiration behind this drink was sustainability – we really wanted to emphasise how important it is that you don't have to waste anything and that with enough creativity you can make even the most flamboyant idea palatable. 


  • Elderflower and Elderberry: Sourced locally, this traditionally British-flavoured beverage sports the iconic fizz that’s famously poured at Goodwood. By fermenting elderberries and elderflowers we have created a sugar syrup. This easy method was the inspiration behind this concoction and it was the simplicity in the creation of something complex that I loved so much.  


  • Tree Bark Smoke: This whisky lover's favourite is a twist on a whiskey sour and is the embodiment of a rustic, smoked-out vintage car. We will be serving this, smoked to the nines, by unveiling it from underneath a Goodwood tree bark-smoked cloche. Using a complicated synergy of vegan egg white (Aguafaba) and okra, this tickle on the senses will inspire anyone to try something adventurous. 


  • Cucumber + Butterfly Pea This colour-changing image trickery is one to look out for. By using butterfly pea suspended in ice, your drink will be served one colour and end another, simply by using the basic laws of thermodynamics.  With the use of a vegan jelly encompassing a cucumber-flavoured liquid, the garnish on this one is in itself a tasty treat. Inspired by the use of sustainable British ingredients, this soft drink may not contain alcohol, but it does contain a lot of time and effort.


Book your exclusive VIP hospitality package at this year's Festival of Speed here.


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