Esta’s processed, passports checked, tickets in bag, plenty of shorts and sun cream!
It’s about 10pm by the time we land in Kingston, Jamaica, and as we make our way through to arrivals the airport is literally shutting it’s doors and switching off the lights as we pass through.
Quite seriously, they are evacuating. The words of Bob Marley keep punching through the air or possibly just my thoughts – ‘Exodus’. Are we worried? NO. Excited? Yes.
Well, maybe just a little worried.
It was just our luck, and I do mean luck, that as we arrived in Kingston so did Hurricane Sandy. When I mean lucky, that’s an indication that a good many of our company were still to arrive.
With bartenders and regional brand managers hustled into the awaiting coach for the Wyndham Kingston Hotel and the beginning of what may become a complete ‘wash out’, we kept our fingers crossed.
As we arrive at the hotel, we are faced with the ever-increasing presence of Sandy. Our hotel operators decided that barricading the doors and windows was to be the next step. I could feel cabin fever setting in, and we had no back up plan of action…yet!
Forty eight hours and a lot of Strawberry Daiquiri’s, Pina Colada’s and Dirty Banana’s later, we were welcomed by clear skies and the first outing for the group.
Before we continue, let me introduce our now very eager bunch of Global Challengers:
- Richard Tring – Great Britain
- Jonathin Hommier – Canada
- Ben Simpson – USA
- Seggy Quizeo – Cayman Islands
- Ryan Mitto – Jamaica
- Jason Clarke – NZ
- Jamie Chesser – OZ
- Daniel Melgar- Peru
- Salvador Pacheco – Mexico
As preparations and the competition were now to be held inside the Wyndham Hotel rather than the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens, it was time to make haste in preparing the bartenders.
Our first mission, as the tail of Sandy whipped through the island, was to visit the local markets and stores for the bartenders to find those unique and local ingredients for the competition to come.
That evening as I took phone calls with varying requests, I wandered round the hotel checking up on them.
It’s interesting to see bartender’s different approaches when in preparation: Fruits fermenting on balconies, freezers acquired from the hotels kitchen, they actually brought one to a bartender, and all manner of infusions and syrups being conjured up.
Competition fever was biting and you could tell they all had the desire to win.
Seeing the hotel dressed to the nines, we were struck by how impressive a turnaround had been achieved, to have the logistics dealt with and bars slotted into place. We now just needed all the Jamaican public to arrive and the bartenders to be suited and booted.
Even with the clocks running on ‘Jamaica time’ we had nothing to worry about. Bartenders were in place, our consumers and guests arrived and the judging could begin.
It was a fury of bartending and consummate drinks delivery. The Jamaican crowd are a discerning type, and they follow Dale’s rule of thumb: “You gotta talk kids”……”You gotta keep ‘em interested.”
So, for the next few hours the bartenders knocked out ritual serves, punch and a signature drink, while bing entertaining and chatting away to all our illustrious guests.
As the compare started his announcement, it was time to find out who had taken the crown and title of Appleton Estate Global Bartender.
The verdict was in: Our very own Richard Tring from Bristol, Great Britain.
He was over the moon and I was just as excited and happy for him, and also for the UK. It was an intense evening of competition, especially since we had just sat through 48hrs in lock down, and all the bartenders were relieved the pressure was off. Well done to all!
Richard wins an all-inclusive break for two to Jamaica, his choice of dates, a wide range of media coverage and a personal selection rum from Appleton Estate by Joy Spence our Master Blender.
It was a great success and a platform that I can start to build globally as we prepare for the 2014 Challenge.
Richard said of his victory: “Of all the competitions around at the moment, the Appleton Estate Bartenders Challenge remains one of the most prestigious, partially because of how the competitors got to integrate with the Jamaican public, and partially due to the quality and pride of the company itself. It’s an honor to win amongst such fierce competition.”
Richard Tring’s Winning Drink
Shaken and served in a highball with cubed ice, garnished with a green cherry and pineapple slice, this was ‘delicious’, as Mr Tring would say.
- 35ml Appleton Estate VX
- 20ml Coco Mania (J Wray & Nephew)
- 20ml Ugly fruit sherbert
- 20ml All Spice pineapple syrup
- 20ml Lime juice