For anyone who thinks that cocktail making is just about throwing a few ingredients together and having good chat, may we introduce you to Diageo Reserve World Class, the annual competition to find the best bartending talent around.
And making good drinks is just the start of it. On top of showing the finalists know how to complement and contrast flavours, this top flight event is where acting, artistry, general knowledge, story-telling, science, cheffy skills and all-round entertainment come together in a glass.
We watched as 44 contestants from around the globe put on the performance of their lives, each one determined to win the prestigious title of World Class Bartender of the Year. From the fabulous setting of a boutique cruise liner sailing across the French Riviera we saw them recreate the mood of a speakeasy bar whilst whipping up drinks evocative of the era; donning lab coats to concoct innovative bespoke infusions; devising creative cocktails to pair up with tapas dishes; teasing out the nuances of whiskies in a challenge designed to engage all of the senses; conceive an original punch and signature serve and if that little lot wasn’t enough, they then had to show they could produce killer cocktails against the clock.
Our fab 44 – each having beaten off top talent in their respective countries to earn their place in this year’s Global Finals – pulled out all the stops and boy did they put on a show.
In the end David Rios from The Jigger Cocktail in Spain took the main prize and his slick style, passion, pride, innovation, ability to think and create on the spot and charm exemplified the essence of what makes a World Class bartender. Like we said, it’s more than just great drinks.
The Cocktail Lovers say:
Okay, we’ll admit we were rooting for Gareth Evans representing Great Britain in the World Class Global Finals. He may not have won the top prize but he’s still number one with us, plus he’s now officially the ninth best bartender in the world. Check him out at his very cool bar the Blind Pig at the Social Eating House, 58 Poland Street, W1F 7NR. www.socialeatinghouse.com.
What we’re looking forward to this week
We’ve had a go playing bartenders ourselves, creating a special cocktail fit for the Queen. You’ll find our Royal-Tea Cup at the Coronation Festival taking place on the grounds of Buckingham Palace from 11th-14th July, www.coronationfestival.com. Or you can always make it up yourselves at home.
The Cocktail Lovers Royal-Tea Cup
40 ml The King’s Ginger liqueur
15 ml homemade rhubarb syrup*
25 ml Twinings Lemon & Ginger tea**
10 ml fresh lemon juice
25 ml English sparkling wine
Fresh ginger, raspberry and small sprig of mint to garnish
Place two big ices cubes in a tea cup. Add all the ingredients except the sparkling wine and stir. Carefully top with the sparkling wine and gently stir again. Garnish with a thin slice of ginger, raspberry and the mint sprig secured with a cocktail stick.
* Homemade rhubarb syrup:
Chop two sticks of rhubarb into 1? pieces. Place in a pan and cover with 1 cup of water, two tablespoons of caster sugar and a dash of vanilla extract. Bring to the boil and simmer until the rhubarb is mushy. Leave to cool then strain through a piece of muslin or strainer into an airtight jar. The liquid will keep for a few days in the fridge.
** Lemon & Ginger tea
Pour bowling water on to a single Twining’s Lemon & Ginger tea bag. Leave to infuse for 2 minutes. Remove tea bag and allow to cool.