This year, 42Below have decided to put together a Startender team for the Cocktail World Cup.
Anyone who has made it to the World final in New Zealand is eligible to apply, so we gave two likely candidates, JJ Goodman of London Cocktail Club, and Dub Dub (AKA James Wynn-Williams) of All Star Lanes, the chance to tell the World why they should get a seat on the plane:
Once again 42Below are recruiting a batch of candidates for their Cocktail World Cup (I assume that if you are reading this website you will have some idea of what the CWC is and what an amazing week they put on for you in New Zealand).
Since attending the finals in 2010 along with Stuart ‘have you seen my jacket and phone’ Fritz, and Danny ‘not guilty your honour’ Winter, I see the flyers each year for this event and wish that there is some way of getting back.
My sights have been set on this comp for many years. As a young bartender in 2004, I was lucky enough to go along to one of 42Below’s Vodka University sessions which was hosted by the one and only Jacob Briars.
My 18 year old mind was blown by what I heard; not only were cocktails a great way of gaining chemically induced confidence to make sexual advances on waitresses, but cocktails and spirits also had a rich and interesting history.
It was probably this session that made me decide that I was going to stay in this industry for the rest of my life, and the way this brand did not take itself too seriously was very much a foundation in the way I work a bar.
A few weeks later, Blake Head was organised a photo shoot for his entry into the CWC, I asked the question “why the hell do you need to have a photo shoot for a drink competition?” his reply to this clueless young bartender: “Mate, for this comp you need to raise your game.”
I was involved in the regional finals in New Zealand a couple of times but never made the ultimate cut (looking back I am sure the judges were correct in binning my Sambuca and Manuka honey creation). It wasn’t till I moved to London that I finally made it through.
Cocktail world Cup 2010 was without a doubt the best week of my life. To be surrounded by some of the best in the world in the most beautiful surroundings was incredible.
While there was a lot of fun and games, the real reason to be here was for the competition. We had a great team but we didn’t quite manage to pull it together in the final event.
The teams that finished above us deserved it fully but I can’t help but feel that we let ourselves down especially when were we sitting in a close second place before the last event.
So when the dust cleared and we boarded a flight back to London I couldn’t help but feel that I had missed a pretty big opportunity.
Competitors that have made it to the global finals are usually not allowed to re-enter – cast off to the sidelines to sit and stroke their trendy mixologist beards while watching the next batch of hopefuls sweat into their mixing glasses, trying to show they are good enough to the judges at the regional heats.
That is, until this year when 42BELOW have announced that they will be forming a team of three people from around the world who have previously been to the finals in New Zealand to make a team of Startenders to compete at the 2012 Cocktail World Cup.
I find myself looking back on my photos and videos from that week and hoping I am lucky enough to be selected for this team.
Maybe now 12kg lighter, 2 years older and with a semi respectable haircut I might have a better chance of lifting that log of wood? Who knows? But anyone who has ever been to lucky enough to get to the finals knows that the real prize is just getting there, being given a strong drink, a glorified rubber band and then pushed off a bridge.
PS: 42Below, don’t take JJ as a Startender. He has spent so much time hanging out with a certain TV chef that he is pretty much French by association. And we know how the French do in world cups on New Zealand soil.
After winning the 2008 London heat with my drink ‘Table Four Two’ (whole maple smoked passion fruit and white wine martini), I flew to Queesnstown with my rudeboy amigos Sean Ware and Josh Invanovich.
After 6 days of being smashed around the park by Jacob Briars and his team of wanna-be-pirate-hugging reprobates, we won! The competition was intense and some notable bartending legends made an early break away on the points board, but they weren’t prepared for the now famous “Ale of two Cities”, which kicked international ass!
We turned the competition on its head on the final day when we revealed our weapon of mass destruction before we had our names engraved in history on the great oak tree!
Funnily enough, it was while in New Zealand that the next big step in my career was formulating. Somewhere between heats, beers and laybacks I managed to negotiate the contract for my first bar, The London Cocktail Club.
There are no brownie points for guessing which vodka was selected as our house pour?! Since New Zealand I’ve been working closely with the Bacardi Brown Forman Brands team, developing new serves, concepts, accumulating press and generally spreading the love to the world.
It was my 42Below bartenders’ kit that I pulled out when in my darkest hour we filmed the final dish on the final day of BBC 2s The Restaurant – Which we also went on to win.
Why should I be chosen to represent in the Global Startender team?…
I think I represent, carry and understand the core values of the brand.
And what the hell are they exactly I hear you ponder? Well its my impression that 42Below stands for an unpretentious approach to excellence, that excellence is nothing without experience.
Neither one should be considered more important than the other, as an imbalance would detract one from the other. Much like the Power Rangers! nay, THE CARE BEARS, all elements become stronger when they are united!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (ideally the last passage should be shouted whilst standing on a chair with your arms in the air to get the full impression!).
My experience in this competition as a former winner, my commitment to the brand, my love of banter, booze and the fact that I think id cry like a 4 year old who has dropped his ice cream if I don’t go, make me the perfect candidate for a come back to NZ with the Startender team this year!
Seriously…. The 4 year old thing sounds excessive but if you’ve been before (the greatest trip of all time! yes, even better than when Marty McFly went back to the future!), you would understand what it is you where about to miss out on!