The 42Below Cocktail World Cup Final is the one trip everyone wants to get on.
Bartenders who have been go misty eyed when they recall their adventures, and the qualifying heats produce extreme levels of dedication and creativity, such is combined desire to make the finals in New Zealand.
But is it really all it’s cracked up to be? Does making the final really count that much? We asked Team Scotland tender, Ben McFarlane, and the answer was a resounding Yes.
BLUK: Who and what was Team Scotland?
BM: My team consisted of two of my very good friends, Nick Reed from The Raconteur in Edinburgh, but now managing 1806 in Melbourne, Aaron Jones who now works in The Alchemist in Manchester, and myself from Hamlilton’s in Edinburgh.
BLUK: How did you prepare for the trip?
BM: Well we actually had to prepare for everything entirely through email! Nick had recently moved back to Melbourne, and Aaron had moved down to Manchester, but we worked so well as a team and had complete trust in each other we each decided to handle different aspects of our preperation, and through constant communication and bouncing ideas off each other, when we all finally met up in Queenstown it came together perfectly.
BLUK: Of all the crazy stuff you had to do, what blew you away the most?
BM: I have to say it was trying to shake a cocktail whilst jet boating over the Shotover River, then pouring it whilst doing a 360, all the while be judge on presentation, technique and taste. It was pretty insane!!
BLUK: How did the different rounds go for your team?
BM: They all went really well, but the best moment had to be when we won the Wine and Food Pairing challenge, having to create a cocktail with wine we had just tasted minutes before hand and match it to a pork dish.
We were so happy to win one of the challenges on the first day as it was real confidence booster and what makes it better it was a real team effort. Plus in the punch round to have David Wondrich say he loved your punch just after writing a book on it is pretty special.
As for the final it couldn’t have gone better, we were first up so it was bit nerve racking but everyone loved the show we put on and the drink came out fantastic, and thats all we could ever hope for.
BLUK: Why did the Italians win?
BM: I have to say they just had the whole package, great team work, fantastic show, very funny and their drink was just great, everyone was happy for them.
BLUK: Everyone says this comp is ‘the trip of a lifetime… Do you agree?
BM: I couldn’t agree more, because most people on the trip pretty much agree that it was the best week of our lives, nothing can compete with it. From the moment you land your treated like rockstars, and it never stops! I arrived after over 35 hrs of traveling and the first thing they do is take me to the bungee jump, so surreal! And the whole week never lets up, with the all the different rounds and parties all night, no one in the world gets to do what we do on this trip.
BLUK: Tell us a funny story about the trip!
BM: There are so many, but for me my favourite was when we were in Bar Up on the second night and we were all dancing on the rafters of the bar, doing lay backs with Jacob Briars and Playboy Bunnies, and throwing ourselves off into the crowd below, it was just amazing!
The only other thing I can really add about this trip is the people, from all the bartenders involved to the guys who put the whole show together, everyone became friends from day one and its stayed that way even after the trip has finshed, I’ve met some really incredible people and they made the trip what it is!
42Below Cocktail World Cup 2011 Video