This evening 38 finalists from around the world will be reduced to 8 at the Bacardi Legacy Global Final.
For the last two days bartenders have been competing in Berlin across two different rounds to try and become one of the eight that will, tomorrow, fight it out to become the 2017 Bacardi Legacy winner.
The two rounds in question are your traditional cocktail competition round, however as always with Bacardi Legacy, traditional isn’t entirely traditional. The main stage where they are expected to create their Legacy drink in 7 minutes is about as daunting as it gets, 5 judges, a huge crowd, bright lights, 4 cameras live streaming and another 7 camera’s streaming to China (which maxed out at 200,000 viewers!).
The other round see’s them presenting their marketing campaign behind closed doors to another 4 judges which sounds like a cross between Dragon’s Den and a school report. The marketing presentation is worth 30% of the final score.
This two day nerve jangling experience is over. Now they have a few hours of questioning what they did, was it enough? Later tonight they’ll find out.
BarLifeUK sat through all 38 of the cocktail competition presentations. In an unfamiliar twist we didn’t get to try the drinks so the following round up takes into account purely the presentations (this is basically our get out of jail free card when no-one we mention below gets through to the final 8).
Each competitor has 2 minutes to set up when they walk on stage and during this time most play a video they produced to promote their drink and their Bacardi Legacy journey. They give the crowd and insight into the person and allow the competitors to set up without hundreds of eyes staring at them.
There were some highly entertaining videos on display. Ireland’s Conor Myers is not only a natural born storyteller but also produced a stand out tape with an Electric Avenue soundtrack that suddenly bursts into the kind of party that mad us wonder if we could change our flight to drop us off in Dublin for the night before we go back to London.
Loretta Toska from Greece bent time with a look at a version of herself 40 years down the line as an elderly lady still making the drink in her house. I defy you not to smile at an old lady shaking a cocktail.
However the winner of the video of the comp definitely goes to Belgium and Ran Van Ongevalle who produced an infomercial spoof that had the crowd laughing continuously. He kept the humour going with his presentation blaming the cold room for his shakes, which leads us nicely onto…
Line up, line up
As you would expect with 38 bartenders, there wasn’t a shortage of personalities on the stage. The kind of person who hides nerves with a big persona and more often than not plenty of gags.
Anton Martaplias from Belarus reminded the crowd of the famous quote from Freud ‘Sometimes a cucumber is just a cucumber’.
However the man with more lines than……. we’ll let you finish that off, was Australia’s Dave Kerr. I know it’s surprisingly to you all that an Aussie was louder than life but with lines like:
After adding his first few rather familiar ingredients ‘Good on ya Dave you’ve made a Strawberry Daiquiri.’
On the rather extra frozen ice ‘Thank god I’ve got 2 minutes 30 left to break down this ice monstrosity, a credit to the German people.’
On the complex job of naming his drink inspired by the Bacardi Breezer ‘I just went on Google Translate and put in Breezer.’
Explaining his garnish of the left over head of the cold pressed strawberry’s ‘Just ask my old mate Iain Griffiths and he’ll tell you it’s cool.’
He had to come out top of this list.
Sing When Your Winning
Two years ago in Sydney Singapore’s Peter Chua finished his presentation with an acoustic version of Sugar Man on the final’s stage. Once again music was prevalent in several of the presentations we saw.
Sandro Pimenta from Portugal didn’t bother with a video whilst setting up for his cocktail, Flight 1862. Instead he was joined on stage by an air stewardess who took the crowd through a safety briefing for ‘Flight 1862 flying directly to your mouth’ and reminding us that ‘glasses should stay upright at all times’. Everyone was a little taken by surprise when she finished off with a stunning version of Come Fly With Me.
Whilst he may not have strictly sung Switzerland’s Martin Bornemann drew some of his inspiration from Elvis Presley’s famous fried peanut butter and banana sandwich and just before he shook his drink informed the crowd ‘A little less conversation, a little more action please’.
However with a background as an MC in a Hip-Hop band before finding life behind the stick Canada’s Matthew Boyle was always a favourite for the win in this category. With a drink inspired by Leonard Cohen and his song ‘Taking Manhattan’ it was only a matter of time that he opened his lungs and belted something out, as it turns out his has a voice to back up his bravado.
Poetry in Emotion
A lot of the time the stories behind the drinks that the competitors are making are very personal and therefore very emotional. Sometimes these emotions can spill over when on the stage, luckily there is always a friendly crowd to clap and cheer the bartender through it.
Mexico are a passionate country and Jorge Landeros’ presentation focused on unity, in a time where unity is needed in the world, especially in Mexico thanks to the turd sniffing lunch trumpet now running their neighbours. As he spoke of the power of union and families in the world and bartending it was hard for the whole room not to feel something rising inside them.
The US East Coast victor Darnell Holguin grew up in the Bronx’s and, with his mum in crowd, his explanation of what she did for him and his brother when they were younger to give him the opportunities that resulted on him being on that stage was nearly to much for him.
Whilst there can’t really be a winner here, let’s call this the best recovery. This goes to Matias Iriarte from Spain who spoke with great emotion about his family and in particular his sister. He needed a moment and the crowd were there to give him just that, panic not however as his sister gets married this year and we are all invited.
Some people just stand out from the crowd in their own way and don’t fit into any particular category.
The home country favourite was Christoph Henkel who not only had an amazing hat to display but had filled the crowd with friends who, at the end of the talk, let of confetti cannons which had the added bonus of flapping the flappable Dickie Cullimore, he was still shaking when he did the post presentation interview.
There are always those who surprise you which was certainly the case with Japan’s Kentaro Sotoh, who looked, as he set up, like the most professional and calm man you are likely to meet. Then his video informed the crowd he used to be a drummer and cut to a video of him performing in-front of 10’s if not 100’s of thousands of people in a rock band. Never judge a man by his waistcoat.
A special mention has to go out to Taiwan’s Grace Tsai who was spectacularly well named by her parents, her grace behind the bar and bar skills were quite simply a joy to behold. Equally Kaitlin Wilkes from Sweden deserves a shout out for a presentation that had us enthralled throughout, so much so at the end of it our notepad was empty our listening had been so intense.
However 15 year old Simon would not forgive me if the winner of this award was not the person who had stripped during their presentation. He might however have been a bit concerned that the winner was also a bloke, a bloke by the name of Orman Bag-ao from the Philippines. He demonstrated his career to where he is today by wearing all of the different uniforms and ripping off the top one by one.
Stop Harpering On
Our UK readers will currently be wondering about our representative Joe Harper. Well he gets a category all of his own.
There is a lot of pressure on all of the bartenders who compete (not least Japan’s Kentaro Satoh with 200,000 people watching from home, he did them very proud by the way) but we feel it more for our own. We have been with them the entire journey and know what they can do, we have seen them at their best when they won the UK finals, we see all the messages of support.
The good news is Joe absolutely nailed it. He didn’t miss a beat during his presentation. I was reminded just how good his story is, just how calm he seems behind the bar (shakes aside) and if the drink was as good as it was in the heats then he is in with a great shout.
He was very happy with what he did and everyone here was very proud to have him on that stage representing us. The only problem is, everyone was good. That’s not true they were better than good. The talent we’ve seen over the last two days has been nothing short of spectacular.
We will find out soon if Joe has made it through to the top 8 (my bet is he has), the one thing we can promise you all back home was has done everything he possibly could.
So there we have it folks. If you want to see who makes it into the top 8 then keep an eye on the BarLifeUK Facebook this evening.