Last night, March 15th, during a slap up meal the 2016 Bacardi Legacy UK winner was revealed, bagging themselves a trip to San Francisco for the global final.
The Gilbert Scott restaurant and bar was filled with nattily dressed bartenders knocking back Bacardi daiquiris and trying to guess the nights winners. Plural, as for the first time ever we were not only there to hear the UK winners name announced but the whole of Northern Europe.
This led to a room bursting 150 people and as much nervous energy as the latest Republican leaders summit. You know it’s a special night when the piano player gets a huge ovation and you turn round to realise it’s been Joe McCanta tickling the ivories (the talented bastard).
Bacardi do like to be cruel so there was, a very tasty, 3 course dinner for the competitors to sit through before Shervene took to the stage to make the big announcement.
The UK’s 3 Most Promising, Oliver Pluck, Iain Griffiths and Santiago Michelis, sat together, waiting for the news. We had been there with them since the heats and followed their journey’s with keen interest, as a result I’m not embarrassed to admit we were nervous for them. One of them would be receiving a fancy trophy and the opportunity to battle it out in San Francisco to bring back the ultimate prize, the Global Bacardi Legacy title.
The projector whirred away and the wall was illuminated with the winners name:
Iain Griffiths, Dandelyan, London
Hugs, high fives and air kisses surrounded Iain (and that was just Jake Burger) as he left the stage. Clutching the trophy he looked a little overwhelmed but you couldn’t have got that smile off his face with a crowbar.
Unfortunately with cocktail competitions when a winner is announced there are always those left to one side. With Bacardi Legacy the loss is always hard to take due to the amount of time and effort the competitors put in. The flip side is that they have already been winners, the exposure they get and the skills they have learnt will do more for their career than a win in almost any other competition in the world (plus they got to hang out in Miami & Puerto Rico for a few days).
To Oli and Santiago we say congratulations. Congratulations for doing such a superb job, for pushing Iain to his limit and getting as far as you did. From what we hear San Francisco’s shit anyway.
You will be hearing a lot from Iain in the coming weeks, we are sure, about his continuing Bacardi Legacy journey and he has a real chance of bringing the Global trophy back to the UK, where it rightly belongs.
Since we posted the winners name on Facebook last night we’ve had a series of messages along the lines of ‘London again!!!’ and ‘No surprise there then’. We want to take this opportunity to put the record straight.
Iain owns two of the best and most awarded bars in the country and travels the world giving talks to bartenders. The reason for this is he is very good at what he does and has worked his arse off to get there.
These are the reasons he won. Not because he is from London or owns White Lyan. At the end of the day he took those skills and that passion and nailed his campaign and marketing report.
People love a conspiracy theory, it’s part of human nature. Competitions are often part of these theories in our industry with the brands often accused of picking the winners that are most beneficial to them.
We are not saying that has never happened, we have not seen it but it may well have, just not on our watch. We have worked very closely with Bacardi Legacy for the last few years and this year judged every single heat of the UK competition.
At no point during that time did anyone from Bacardi interfere in the judging and we can say hand on heart that the right person won at every heat.
You want more proof? Well two years ago when 8 bartenders competed to come the 3 Most Promising, bartenders from both the Artesian and Quo Vadis lost out and a kid from a bar in Chester no-one had heard of got through. The winner was not Matt Fairhurst from the Social Group with the ability to sell becket loads of Bacardi throughout the world but Ally from a cool, but little known outside London, bar called Peg & Patriot.
Forward to the globals and the final showdown didn’t include the UK, US, Germany or even host country Australia.
So I’m sorry folks but Elvis is dead, we did land on the moon and Iain Griffiths won Bacardi Legacy because he did the best job.