Riki Carter in Trinidad with Angostura

I recently had the privilege to compete in the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2012, held in Trinidad.

Again flying from New Zealand seems to take the longest time ever….. but after the best part of two days, I finally arrived to join the rest of the competitors from around the world.

Where's Riki?

I must admit to having expectations on what Trinidad and the competition would be like, on both fronts I was completely wrong. I thought Trinidad would be the same size maybe as Samoa or Fiji, it turns out the country is as beautiful as those but so much bigger and the competition a lot bigger and tougher than I had expected.

Bartenders from countries including England, South Africa, Russia, China and Argentina as well as a local from Trinidad, were all there to win the competition. It is hard not to mention all of the competitors as they were all in their own right AMAZING!! There were a few stand outs for me, Nastassia Martin (London) was so relaxed and professional behind the bar and made two stunning cocktails, Roxanne Reed (South Africa) who, because of the availability of Angostura rum in South Africa had never tried the rum before arriving at the competition. She managed to create a cocktail in a day and present in front of a panel of judges and her peers… true respect and admiration for that effort.

Lastly Ilya Bubashvili (Russia), a man who for the most part we spent most of our time trying to find…. the on-going calls of “where’s the Russian” rang loud for the first few days. However behind the bar he was amazing to watch, with some of the best techniques we had the privilege of seeing.

While I have mentioned just three of the competitors, I learned so much from everyone involved. This was truly a world class competition with world class bartenders, whom I feel very honoured to have competed with and now call friends.

Unfortunately their can only be one winner on the day and first prize went to the very humble David Delaney Jnr, who also took out first place in the free style cocktail.

That Briars fella pops up everywhere

From the competition to the epic carnival experience, wow you have to experience this to really pay homage to the event……. it is a must do!!!!

Angostura showed us all an amazing time and made us feel like part of the “Trini family”. I once got told by Dale DeGroff the “best bar in the world, is the place that makes you feel most comfortable”, well by the same respect Angostura and the people involved made us all feel that Trinidad was a home away from home. For the first time in competitions I saw bartenders truly upset about leaving this amazing place and our new family.

Thank you to all at Angostura, you are amazing but a little special thanks to Vitra Deonarine (aka MUM), Cherisse Subero (aka sexy lady, but you have to say it with an Indian accent) and lastly Alex Thomas (aka Trini terminator) you guys ROCK!!!!

I hope this competition will continue to get stronger and stronger over the coming years, it is an amazing experience to be part of.