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Diageo Reserve Brands Bartender success

The title of Diageo Reserve Brands World Class Bartender of the Year 2009 was decided in London this month after a year long global competition


Six thousand bartenders from 24 countries poured their way through national heats, with just 18 making it to the World Class challenges this month.

Aristotelis Papadopoulos of Banquet in Thessaloniki, Greece claimed the overall title after impressing the most recognised names in the business - Dale DeGroff, Salvatore Calabrese, Simon Difford,  Peter Dorelli, Gary Regan, Hidetsugu Ueno – with his exceptional mastery of cocktail craft.

Congratulating the winner of the inaugural global Diageo Reserve World Class competition, dubbed the Liquid Oscars, Global Reserve Brands general manager Rudy Paoli said:  “World Class is a truly international celebration of cocktail culture - the flair, creativity and craft of the bartender and the appreciation of great spirit brands and their heritage. Aristotelis Papadopoulos represents all of this and we would like to congratulate him on this fantastic achievement.” 

The finalists showcased their skills in six World Class Challenges, from Classic Cocktails and Canapé Pairing to Theatre and Cocktail Mastery.

A lifestyle book will be published with the winners in September to celebrate the craft of  bartending and the current vibrant global cocktail culture. The book will be a globetrotter’s guide to the best cocktails from around the world using the finest spirits. 

The winners

Canapé Matching Challenge
Winner: Felix Hartmann, Burj Al Arab, Dubai
Testing their ability to balance flavours and textures, finalists chose from six different canapés to create a cocktail to complement their chosen dishes.

Market Challenge 
Winner: Ryan Chetiyawardana, Bramble Bar, UK
A test of ingenuity and ability to adapt, finalists had 30 minutes to collect fresh ingredients  from a luxury market place and were then given 20 minutes to create a cocktail out of their chosen produce. 

Ritual and Cocktail Theatre Challenge
Winner: Mari Kamata, The Peninsula Tokyo, Japan
Using their imagination and sense of theatre, finalists selected a bottle from the Reserve portfolio and created a unique service ritual to bring the qualities of the spirit to life.

Speed and Taste Challenge 
Winner: Rustambek Narzibekov, City Space, Russia
Employing their speed and skill, finalists created a round of 8 well-known cocktails in the fastest time possible. They were required to use the full array of mixology methods: building, muddling, stirring etc. The cocktails were sampled to ensure correct balance of flavours.

Classic Cocktails Challenge 
Winner: Khi Leonard, The Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa, Cayman Islands.
A thorough examination of the bartenders’ knowledge of mixology and pursuit of perfection, each of the competitors were tasked to make three cocktails from a list of 20 signature, classic cocktails.

WORLD CLASS Cocktail Mastery Challenge 
Winner: Noach Van Damme, L’Apereau, Belgium
 Using their mixology craft and knowledge, finalists presented the winning cocktail that they created to win their national final. They were then asked a series of questions on the Reserve Brand spirit they used and why it works so well with the ingredients they chose. 

The judges

Salvatore Calabrese: World Class Canapé Pairing Challenge
Salvatore “The Maestro” Calabrese is one of the world’s leading bartenders whose performance arena is the glamorous Salvatore at FIFTY in London’s St James’s. He developed his talent for combining flavours at an early age while working in his native Italy. His passion for cocktails has been at the heart of a career that includes numerous books, publications and awards.

Dale DeGroff: World Class Speed & Taste Challenge
Acknowledged as the world’s premier mixologist, Dale has been credited with reinventing the profession of bartending and setting off a cocktail explosion around the world, most notably, at New York’s Rainbow Room. Dale provides bar training and develops state of the art beverage programmes for leading hotel chains and restaurants. He truly is ‘King Cocktail’.

Simon Difford: Classic Cocktail Challenge
Simon founded CLASS magazine in 1997, once again becoming editor and publisher this year, with the first ‘new’ issue published in June. The best known of his book series, ‘diffordsguide – Cocktails’, with 2,600 colour-illustrated recipes is now in its 8th edition and is widely regarded as the authoritative international cocktail publication.

Peter Dorelli: World Class Ritual and Cocktail Theatre Challenge
Peter Dorelli came to  England in 1963 to join the Savoy Group as head barman of the Pebble Bar, before moving to the Savoy American Bar in 1980 where he remained until he retired in 2003. During his illustrious career, Peter has been a member and president of the Bartender’s Guild, won numerous awards, and now runs courses for the new breed of budding Peter Dorellis.

Gary Regan: World Class Cocktail Mastery Challenge
Gary Regan is a spirit and cocktail  expert who has spent most of his career in Manhattan.  He now tours the world, writing about his love of well-crafted cocktails and fine distilled spirits.  He also writes a bi-weekly column for the San Francisco Chronicle, another literary achievement amongst an impressive array of books and articles.

Hidetsugu Ueno: World Class Market Challenge
From Ginza in Tokyo, Japan, Hidetsugu Ueno is a leader of Japanese bartending, with a dedicated following of cocktail aficionados across Tokyo. In 1992 he was a bartender at Lounge Bar, Nobuko, then 8 years later he became the head Bartender and manager at the famous Star Bar, Ginza. It was here where he entertained the rich and famous with his highly skillful and now infamous diamond ice carving.

The global finalists

Austrailia - Adi Ruiz, Seamstress
Belgium - Noach Van Damme, L'Apereau
Brazil - Henrique Medeiros, Kinoshita
Cayman Islands - Khi Leonard, The Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa
China - Ho Ho Wan, Fez Bar
Dubai - Felix Hartmann, Burj Al Arab
Germany, Austria, Switzerland - Ricardo Albrecht, Lebensstern Bar
Greece- Aristotelis Papadopoulos, Banquet
Ireland - Sean Muldoon, The Merchant Hotel
Japan - Mari Kamata, The Peninsula Tokyo
Korea - Jaejin Lim, Coffee Bar K
Netherlands - Andrew Nicholls, Door 74
 Puerto Rico - Jaders Calcano, InterContinental San Juan
Russia - Rustambek Narzibekov, City Space
Singapore - Ke Zhen Sim, Prime Society
Taiwan - Gloria Tsai, Bacco Bar
UK - Ryan Chetiyawardana, Bramble Bar
Venezuela - Anthony Medina,

July 09

1 July 2009 - Felicity Murray