Above: Chris Moore representing the UK in the BACARDÍ Legacy Global Cocktail Competition, 2013
Thinking about entering this year’s BACARDÍ Legacy competition? Consider these wise words from American college football player and coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant: “It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Everyone wants to triumph in this contest. Hell, if we were bartenders, we’d sign up for it too. Not just for the travel – although we’d be lying if we said the prospect of visiting Miami and Mexico for getting through to the top three in the UK wasn’t a huge draw. Having a marketing budget and even more important, the support to explore territories of your choice doesn’t hurt either. Oh, and let’s not forget the prospect of building lifelong connections with the best in the business during the global final in San Francisco. Okay, maybe the travel is a big deal but it’s not the only thing to consider if you’re thinking about taking this prestigious competition on. For bartenders with ambition, the opportunities Legacy brings are epic.
Just ask Chris Moore head bartender at the Beaufort Bar at the Savoy. We did. Having won the nationals in 2012 and then going on to impress in the globals in 2013, he may not have won the competition outright but he’s scooped a top prize in our books – he now judges the Legacy heats around the world and as far as we can see, has become fully inducted into the Bacardí family. He’s also elevated his status in the industry in ways even he didn’t think were possible.
If you’re serious about putting yourself and your drink forward for the BACARDÍ Legacy Global Cocktail Competition 2016, don’t do it without checking (and re-checking) his invaluable insights below:
Chris, from your experience, why enter BACARDÍ Legacy?
In terms of industry profile, Legacy gives you the biggest excuse to shout from the rooftops about what you do and the place where you work. Without doubt, it raises the profile of you and your bar but the biggest thing for me was how it develops you as a person. Taking part in BACARDÍ Legacy teaches you skills you didn’t know you had. Marketing isn’t something that comes naturally to bartenders – we can be very engaging but serious marketing is a whole other profession. However, it’s a key business skill you’ll need, particularly as 99.9% of all bartenders dream of opening their own bar. If you know how to market yourself and your bar, you stand a much better chance of it being a successful business.
I learnt an awful lot about how to promote myself and the bar through Legacy. And to my mind, that’s probably the most beneficial thing you will get out of any competition. A lot of people can make great drinks but the most successful people in our industry know how to market themselves and that’s what makes the difference.
Chris prepares his The Encantador cocktail at a recent BACARDÍ Legacy workshop at Dandelyan, London
Do you need to be a certain personality type to enter?
You might have thought so a few years ago but look at last year’s UK winner, Ally Martin he’s very quiet and demure; then there’s this year’s global winner, Franck Dedieu, he’s not the loudest guy in the room, he’s very softly spoken, very elegant and quite gentlemanly. So personality types are not important but I would say you do need to possess a certain kind of stubbornness in this industry these days, particularly if you’re entering competitions like Legacy. There are so many people vying for the top prize and you’ve got to have that drive to keep pushing yourself forward. You’ve got to be determined and competitive enough to constantly find ways to keep motivated and exceed your goals.
How has BACARDÍ Legacy changed you as a bartender?
I can’t even begin to count the ways it’s helped me. It’s given me so much more confidence and an invaluable knowledge of how to present myself in the industry as well as being aware of how to be seen in the best light at all times. Even when I’m not behind the bar. Most of these insights have come from the extensive travelling I’ve done as a result of Legacy, that combined with the people I’ve met – not only on my travels but those who have judged the competition, previous competitors, industry professionals – the list is endless.
What’s the most important factor to bear in mind when thinking about entering the competition?
You should be at a place in your career where you feel you can do yourself justice. Make sure you’re ready, prepared and can commit to the work you need to put in to make your campaign succeed. It’s like a second job and you have to be constantly thinking and developing your marketing plan and ideas.
This year’s BACARDÍ Legacy Global Cocktail Competition winner, Franck Dedieu
How do you keep yourself focused during the marketing period?
Think about the long goal. What do you want to achieve by entering? For most people it will be raising the profile of themselves and their bars, getting on the World’s 50 Best Bars list and being nominated in the Spirited Awards, then probably opening their own bars. Legacy can help with all of those things; it’s changed a lot of people’s lives. The competition opens doors for networking and career opportunities – it really does gives you a platform to find people who will guide you, support you and help you in your career.
Take Shingo Gokan, who won the global finals in 2012 for instance. He now has a bar in Shanghai, is opening another in New York, has been on television, travels the world – his travel diary is insane! He’s constantly working, constantly moving… There’s also a long list of people who didn’t win but have used the competition as a platform to take them on to the next level. Zdenek Kastanek is good example. He moved from London to Singapore, has been in the top four for Best Bartender in the Spirited Awards for four years in a row, spends time training and developing other bartenders – Legacy gives you the opportunities and you have to grasp them.
Now that you’re a judge, how would you have rated your performance?
I think for the year I entered, I would have been happy. I felt I had progressed Legacy in terms of what had been done before but that’s how it should always be, the bar should be raised every year. Tom Walker raised it after me and Ally Martin, given a shorter marketing period, certainly maintained that level if not raised it further still. It’s difficult for me to comment on my performance but put it this way, I was happy with what I put into it but even happier with what I got out of it in the end.
Shingo Gokan, winner 2012
What advice would you give to anyone thinking, “I’m not as slick as Chris or as marketing savvy as Ally, do I still have a chance?”
Firstly, don’t think you have to present in the same style as anyone else as that isn’t the case. You do, however, need to have confidence in what you’re doing and in your ability as a good bartender. You might not think you’re ready but by entering you’ll know what to do better next time. Even if you get through to the heats it’s a fantastic experience and there’s so much you can learn. It’s also worth noting that nobody (unless they entered one competition and won it), has a 100% record in competitions. Alex Kratena entered hundreds of comps and didn’t win but the important thing is you learn, grow and develop.
Chris’s top tips for entering BACARDÍ Legacy:
Make it personal
Make sure your presentation is true to you, it needs to be authentic and reflect your philosophy – something you hold dear. Shingo was perfect. He connected his story to his grandmother, her Japanese tea ceremony and how much his family meant to him. The fact it was an authentic story really drew the audience in.
Do your research, try to find something new to bring to your presentation. It’s so important that you tell people something they don’t already know. It doesn’t have to be about the history of Bacardí and the family – it can be something that links back to you and your drink. For instance, from a conversation I had with Martini Global Ambassador Giuseppe Gallo, I found out that Martini changed the formula for its Bianco vermouth from spice to vanilla due to high demand. I wove this into my presentation for The Encantador which contained vanilla in the recipe. It added something extra to my presentation.
Chris Moore makes up his drink The Encantador at the Savoy
This is probably the hardest part of the drink section: BACARDÍ Legacy is about creating a cocktail that is classical in style but at the same time is innovative and contemporary. That means finding flavour combinations or ingredients that are commonly available but putting them together in a way which isn’t traditionally used in drinks. Ago Perrone’s winning Mulata Daisy from 2008 is a great example – chocolate, fennel seeds and vanilla with BACARDÍ Carta Blanca rum – that’s an intelligent use of ingredients and his cocktail is still relevant today.
Make your drink a million times, make sure you’re so happy and comfortable with it that you won’t have a problem talking about it for the next year. Try it in lots of different ways, using caster sugar instead of sugar syrup etc, see how the texture changes; try it with a whole fresh egg white, then again with half and see what it does to the drink. Don’t just take a few sips and judge it from that, taste it to the end of the glass. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Don’t wait until the final stages to perfect your presentation, work on it continually. You need to be so prepared, so organised that you won’t make a mistake. Obsess about every little detail.
Be the best possible version of yourself. It’s not about wearing a suit if you don’t usually wear one; don’t present an image of yourself that you don’t feel comfortable with, the judges will pick up on that. Fred Siggins from Australia did it well last year by still showing his piercings but wearing a really cool suit.
Tom Walker looks on as Chris Moore prepares The Encantador at the Savoy. The next year Tom took the top prize in the BACARDÍ Legacy Global Cocktail Competition
Make a connection
Connecting with an audience can be difficult but it’s an integral part of your presentation. There are certain ways to do this: having an assertiveness in your voice definitely helps but adding some comic relief is important too; you need to make people listen but then give them that moment where you lighten the mood. Think about how you engage the whole room, not just the judges – how you reach out and draw people in to your presentation is vital but so is keeping it natural. You should have a few main points that you need to hit, you can’t make it up along the way but I wouldn’t advise trying to learn a whole script, it doesn’t feel genuine. Lastly, add a human element by giving a part of yourself like Shingo or Graziella Nieto from UAE who shared a heartfelt story last year. But definitely no X-Factor-type stories!
This is where you have to try to introduce that bit of sparkle that makes you stand out. Of course, this becomes harder as more people do it, but try to think of something unexpected that makes you stand above. I used to set up the bar top with props to create a different visual image; I also had the name of my cocktail The Encantador embroidered on the back of my jacket. At the end of my presentation I would turn to reveal it. Roman Foltan last year had his hashtag, The Optimist. Obviously you shouldn’t do the same but think how to stand out from the competition and create a visual connection.
Those are the tips, are you ready for the challenge? Submit your entry by 6th September to bacardilegacy.com
Dates for your diary
German final, 2nd November
Nordics final, 3rd November
Benelux final, 4th November
UK final, 10th November
Ireland final, 10th November
Alps final, 16th November
Cocktail promotion period: November 2015-March 2016
Winner announcement: 15th March
For rules and updates see bacardilegacy.com