We sat down with this years Bacardi Legacy Ambassadors to get some tips for anyone entering the comp.
With the deadline for entries falling this week on August 15ththere are no doubt many of you out there fine tuning and perfecting your Bacardi Legacy entry. No one knows better than the ambassadors what you are going through so we figured we would pick their brains to help you out.
What is your number one piece of advice for anyone entering Legacy?
Kaitlin Wilkes-Back (Global Finalist 2017): Be yourself! You’re going to spend so much time making/promoting your drink and if it’s not something you’re passionate about, it’s going to be really hard to get the point across.
Clare Morrow (National Finalist 2019): Self confidence – I hear a lot of people say they don’t think they’re ready to do legacy which is madness. Having the confidence to enter in the first place is obviously pretty crucial but also to do something that actually represents you rather than creating something you think people want to hear. The passion when you really mean it is something that makes people stand out I think.
Matthew Dakers (Global Finalist 2010): Practice and ask for help. I knew I couldn’t do it all on my own so I picked the brains of others around me and put together the best bits along with my own ideas. Practice is so important. You can never go over your presentation too much. You should know it in your sleep!
Joey Medrington (National Finalist 2010): Top bit of advice would be to practice every element of the drink over and over again until it is perfected. I didn’t bring the right kit with me to London when I competed and in turn messed up the drink on stage which pretty much heralded the end for me.
Joe Harper (Global Finalist 2017): The best entries I’ve seen are more a reflection of the bartender than of the brand. So try to do that, make it about you. That’s the only way you can be sure it will be unique.
Chelsie Bailey (Global Finalist 2019): Make sure you like your drink! It’s your legacy and your journey and the drink is something you should be proud of and that you will drink a lot of!
What do you think is the most common mistake in bad entries?
Kaitlin: Homemade ingredients. Now, this is personal but the likelihood of someone making your vanilla and green tea syrup to list your drink for one week isn’t really going to happen. I think you really want to make sure your cocktail is accessible and homemade ingredients make it a challenge because most venues already have a long prep list of their own cocktails… to combat this though, if your drink needs a homemade ingredient to be exceptional you can definitely send it as a package to select cocktail bars as part of your POS… I personally would just avoid it.
Clare: I think it’s easy to get caught up in what you’re doing and lose a bit of scope. Ask yourself – ‘if this made it to a final would it stand out?’ ‘Would my story be how I want to represent the UK?’ ‘Is this actually replicable?’ – then a lot of common mistakes would be avoided.
Matthew: Don’t make a drink for yourself. You need to step outside your comfort zone and think about what does the next classic look like. It might not be something you would buy on a Saturday night at 10pm but we make drinks for our guests. Consider all styles and make something you would be proud of serving to millions of guests. The mojito vs the sazerac argument.
Joe: Not checking the balance of your drink. The best remedy here is to make it as many different ways as you can before you settle on the one with the best balance.
Chelsie: I think that sometimes where it’s such a large competition and you put pressure on yourself because you want to do really well you sometimes over think things. Stick to your guns, remember the Daiquiri is one of the most delicious drinks in the world but also so simple. Try and see what’s already been done.
What has been your favourite Legacy drink or presentation over the years?
Kaitlin: I do really like Ran’s drink (Ran Van Ongevalle, 2017 winner), it’s more in the style of a cocktail I usually order because I’m not a huge fan of citrus. But I would have to say Tom’s Maid in Cuba (Tom Walker, 2014 winner) had the biggest impact on my legacy and definitely is a cocktail that has become very recognisable in the competition.
Joey: I loved Matt Dakers’ Angles Draft, lovely wee drink. Or Ago’s Mulata Daisy from way back in the day.
Joe: Gn Chan’s presentation for Venceremos in 2016 was just next level. It had humour, humility, individuality and great technique.
Chelsie: Drink would be Maid in Cuba by Tom Walker. His drink really stuck in my mind when I was putting together Rum Reverie as he took really familiar flavours and offered them in new formula. Presentation wise would be Ran the 2017 global winner. His presentation was just awesome and you could see how passionate he was
If there is one thing you could change about your entry, or one thing you wish you’d have known back then, what would it be?
Kaitlin: I wouldn’t change my drink at all, definitely passionate about it and I think it’s always going to be a part of my bartending journey and I still do make it every now and again.. But if I wish I had known to be more myself. Though I definitely was during my campaign and all the travel, I think when I was on stage I could have worked on my presentation to be a little more myself. It’s really hard because you watch so many of the previous competitors… I think I watched GN’s presentation like 20 times… but when you step back you see people make the top 8 because 1. They made a tasty cocktail that has its own identity and 2. They were themselves on the semi final stage (yes, there is a lot more to it.. But those are two big factors I think)
Clare: I wouldn’t change anything about my entry – even though I didn’t make it to the Globals everything about my drink and legacy was very personal to me and I’m happy to have shared that. I do wish I had spent less time worrying about what I was doing though and just enjoyed the ride!
Matthew: Nothing. I’m lucky. I won the UK and I am happy about my global performance. Not everyone can be a winner. I was just happy to be there and taking part. Winning UK gave me confidence that I was on a good path. Losing the global brought me back to earth and I knew I still had more to learn. I made some of the best friends in the world and I was given the role of Chartreuse Ambassador after the competition. I’m just glad I entered. That’s the one thing I see other people do wrong, not trying/entering. Fear of losing is getting boring now.
Joey: Thing I would do different is make the drink properly at the UK final, but also be more ambitious with my business plan – I think I played it a bit safe.
Joe: I would probably have put more effort into my garnish, I think I went too simple. Especially for the global finals.
Chelsie: In all honesty, I did start to think what could I have done better and what would I have changed and honestly nothing. The past year has just been so epic and special to me that I would change my journey, I remember doing my final presentation on the global stage and just walked off really content and proud of myself that I stopped thinking what if
What was the one thing you saw someone do during your Legacy journey that really impressed you?
Kaitlin: Conor Myers got his drink served at a music festival… I think that was super cool and showed the adaptability of his cocktail and definitely helped with showing how much volume he did!
But also another moment would be…
It wasn’t my year, but the year after, I happened to be in Mexico supporting my (now) husband in his Legacy journey and we were watching the Grand Final and Eric Van Beek got everyone to stand and hold hands at the end of his presentation… it was such a moment and you knew then that Eric was for sure going to be in the top 3. He had brought the entire audience together… and that to me is how to do an outstanding performance.
Matthew: The help the Brand Ambassadors offer to each contestant. When I was preparing for the final the ambassador Shervene at the time offered me so much help. She bent over backwards to make me feel comfortable and practiced with me to help calm my nerves. She didn’t have to do that but that’s the level of support Bacardi offer.
Joe: Conor Myers being an absolutely incredible hype man. He had such a great presence during his presentation at the finals. Every single person there just had a great time for those 7 minutes.
Chelsie: I think watching people get on stage in front of their peers and talking about their bad experiences in life and what they went through. To take that and create a legacy and a positive outlook was something I really admired.
What is your favourite Legacy memory?
Kaitlin: I have too many… but the one that stands out is the family dinner. I sat next to Ian Burrell and had lots of great conversation about the industry and that was quite cool because at the time I didn’t really get to have conversations with industry legends like that, but Legacy really brings you into those moments because everyone is there with the same passion. The dinner itself just really showed the care Bacardi takes in supporting the bartenders and Enrique Comas made a great speech (which he does every year) and always says ‘your legacy stops when you choose it to stop’and yeah that might feel a bit cliche but here I am nearly 3 years later still talking about it and owe a lot of my recent opportunities because of it.
Clare: Probably finding out that I hade made the top 4 as the wildcard- I was stripping wallpaper in the restaurant and got the message from May and started jumping around. I can still remember how excited I was, and I didn’t know the half of everything that was coming! It feels like that’s where everything really started to change for me.
Matthew: Miami. As part of the winning prize we got to go to Miami! The trip was totally baller and I’d never been before. Beach, sunshine and Bacardi daiquiris. I could never afford that trip on a bartenders wage. Bacardi were the best host.
Joey: Favourite memory was the whole UK final. It was my first major competition in London and the whole experience was pretty magical from the venue to the after party.
Joe: This is actually really difficult to pick, but there was a sense of absolute bliss being on a sunny rooftop in Berlin during the global finals week in 2017, after a seminar from Jacob Briars on the sound of rum, all the finalists were just hanging out in this gorgeous bar in a great city, everyone excited and a little bit nervous about what was coming up but also just being there enjoying the moment. That was a pretty special day.
Chelsie: It has to be my parents coming out on stage to present my trophy as the UK winner! As if having to wait 12 days for the announcement wasn’t emotional enough that was sprung on me, was just incredible, they were so proud.
Get involved with Bacardi Legacy by heading to their website here.
As Clare & Matthew said the main thing is to get involved. It is an experience that will change your life as any one of the 7 ambassadors or hundreds of the other finalist from across the world will tell you.
Don’t forget the deadline is August 15th so don’t hesitate.