There’s nothing new about competitions in the service industry. Testing elements of the out-of-home experience, be it the sommelier, the chef, the bartender or the service, a competition is a powerful way to showcase a particular venue, or indeed individual excellence writes Kara Duggan.
The UK boasts a vibrant food and drink culture with consumers driving experiences, premiumisation and the search for new and interesting tastes and tipples. In an increasingly similar fashion, the drinks industry challenges bartenders as the food industry does chefs. There are many bartender competitions out there, driven by brands looking to increase exposure and strengthen relationships with industry decision makers and consumer influencers. Some however, take the next step and challenge everything we know about modern drinking culture, with a simple yet ambitious view to carve out future drinks trends.
Last night (19 April), Diageo Reserve announced the semi-finalists for this year’s search for the GB World Class Bartender of the Year 2017. This followed a day of intense testing, training, presenting and of course, tasting. The competition is designed to create and celebrate luxury drinking experiences, promoting the less but better mentality of many of today’s drinkers. Diageo Reserve World Class trains and tests many components of bartending, including an extensive knowledge base, creativity, passion, delivery and service. An international programme now in its ninth year, it has already built a community of global World Class bartenders, many of which have gone on to become industry influencers and leaders, such as Aidan Bowie, Ali Reynolds and James Fowler.
There are a vast number of competitions throughout the hospitality world, and some people question whether we are reaching a level of fatigue. From what I can see from recent food and drink competitions, they are going strong, enjoying record-number entries but most importantly, continue to drive standards up across the industry providing quality and often meaningful experiences for consumers.
There are another seven weeks to go before Diageo Reserve commences the next round of testing to find this year’s World Class GB Bartender of the Year, who will go on to the global challenges in Mexico. For now, a huge congratulations to this year’s semi-finalists:
- Aiden Page | The Bar With No Name | London
- Alf Del Portillo | The Natural Philosopher | London
- Constanca Cordeiro | Peg and Patriot | London
- James Bowker | The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel & Cocktail Lounge | Birmingham
- Jamie Jones | The Social Company | London
- Jerome Allaguillemette | Sexy Fish | London
- Jon Hughes | Bramble | Edinburgh
- Liam Broom | Callooh Callay | London
- Martin Hudak | American Bar at The Savoy Hotel | London
- Sean Fennelly | Hawksmoor Spitalfields | London
- Thomas Matthews | The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel & Cocktail Lounge | Birmingham
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