A powerful grand final performance and the Maid in Cuba cocktail bring the Bacardi Legacy trophy to the UK
Last week, 27 bartenders from all corners of the world converged on Moscow for the 2014 Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition final – a journey from regional heat to Russia that for many had taken well over 12 months.
During their week-long stay in Russia, competitors attended training seminars in subjects as varied as stagecraft and health and wellness, all with a view to helping them perform to their highest possible standard at the semi final, and for 8 of the 27, the grand final.
The Semi Final
The semi final took place in the Intercontinental Hotel’s ballroom at 9:00am, a time of day not generally held in high regard by bartenders or journalists. Following an epic night in Moscow’s Noor bar, it came as an even greater shock to the system.
Nonetheless, the ballroom was full of supporters as Tom Walker took to the stage, having been drawn to compete first. His presentation was assured and slick, and team UK felt confident he would win a place in the final. However as the semi final unfolded, the overall standard proved to be incredibly high. It would clearly be a close-run thing.
As such, Tom’s supporters were on tenterhooks as the eight finalists’ names were announced in random order that night at dinner. Perversely, having drawn first on the previous occasion, Tom’s name appeared last this time, and team UK’s collective blood pressure can be described as elevated by the time his name was called.
The eight finalists:
- Fred Siggins of Black Pearl, Australia
- Graziella Nieto of JW Marriott, Dubai
- Dinos Constantinides of Los & Found, Cyprus
- Guy Jacobson of Charley Noble, New Zealand
- Carson Xie of Park Hyatt, Shanghai
- Mannmohan Singh of PCO, India
- Angelika Larkina of Under the Clouds, Estonia
- Tom Walker of The American Bar, London
The grand final
The Bacardi team have always had a gift for finding beautiful event venues, but on this occasion they outdid themselves. The Grand Final took place on a beautiful, sunny evening at the Petroff Palace, an 18th Century pile once home to Russian military headquarters.
Sitting in the imposing, dome-ceilinged room, nervous energy was palpable in the air as David Cordoba began proceedings by introducing the judges (yes, Ian Burrell did the beat box thing again. Never give that man a microphone).
Having witnessed, and judged, more than a few cocktail competitions, I can say with confidence that each of the eight performances were close to flawless. A mixture of professionally produced videos and old fashioned chat were used by each bartender to present their drinks.
I’ve never seen such a consistent level of excellence in a comp before, and kudos must be given to the support teams who helped the competitors put their presentations together. Not being able to taste the drinks as they came off the stage bar, it was impossible to say who was the clear front runner as the competition ended – only that the result would be incredibly close.
While waiting for the result, refreshments were served via a Daiquiri fountain and Pina Colada slushy machine. As you can imagine, competitors were first in line to calm jangling nerves, with their supporters close behind. After an interminable wait, David Cordoba took to the stage and announced that Tom Walker had been victorious, and the Legacy trophy would be taking pride of place in the American Bar.
Each of the 27 competitors should be immensely proud for acquitting themselves so well, with special congratulations going to the 8 finalists. Special mention should also go to the Bacardi team for putting on what is undoubtedly one of the greatest bar industry events in the world.
Maid in Cuba
By Tom Walker, The American Bar, UK
- 2 Parts / 60mls BACARDÍ Superior rum
- 6 Mint leaves
- 3 Cucumber slices
- 1 ½ parts / 45mls ‘sweet & sour’ mix (15 sugar 2:1, 30 fresh lime, infused for half a day)
- Absinthe spritz
- 1 ½ parts / 50mls soda
Add ‘sweet & sour’ mix to a cocktail shaker, along with the mint and cucumber. Bruise gently, and then add the BACARDÍ Superior. Add ice, shake rapidly and double strain into an absinthe rinsed-coupette. Top with soda, garnish with a slice of cucumber and serve.A full report of our time in Moscow, and an interview with Tom Walker, will be published shortly