Santa Teresa & The Mixing Class WSET Competition Update and Winners Interview

Twenty bartenders win WSET Spirits Level 2 places courtesy of Santa Teresa Rum and The Mixing Class

Last month we brought you news that Santa Teresa and The Mixing Class had joined forces to create a competition which would ultimately see 20 bartenders win places on a WSET Spirits Level 2 course. Within two days of publishing that story, over 300 people had entered the competition, and we’d like to take this moment to thank everyone who applied, or shared the article and tagged friends on social media.

The popularity of the competition underpins the reason Santa Teresa and The Mixing Class created it – times are hard for hospitality, and training and up-skilling will become increasingly important while our industry weathers and then recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

As Shervene Blackburn, UK head of advocacy for Santa Teresa, said in the original story: “Now more than ever it is important for brands to do their bit to protect those in our industry. Providing course support through WSET allows bartenders to upskill and give CVs stand out on what we know is an extremely super competitive recruitment environment.”

The Competition Winners

The first 100 people to enter the competition were invited to attend a virtual training session with Santa Teresa ambassador, Eric Tinca. At the end of the masterclass, a knowledge test based on the session’s contents was sent out, and the twenty bartenders with the highest scores were awarded places on the WSET course, which took place via Zoom on the 8th and 9th of December.

We caught up with two of the winners, Gisellia Moore (Crying Wolf) and Lorenzo Gavelli (Disrepute) and asked them about the experience of entering the comp, and taking the course.

BLUK: What was it about the prize of a WSET course that made you enter the competition?

GM: I entered the competition because I’ve always wanted to do the WSET courses, but have never had the money spare for it so there was a big financial aspect to it, but also I was very excited to be taught by Hannah and Rose, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn from them.

LG: The chance of investing in myself in these troubled and unprecedented times. Coming out on the other side of this as better people and industry professionals is something we should all look forward to.

BLUK: Did you learn something about Santa Teresa during Eric’s masterclass that you didn’t know before?

GM: Eric’s tasting was so insightful! I put my hands up and admit I learned a great deal from the masterclass. I had a basic understanding of the Santa Teresa rum going in to it, so it was great to get a better understanding of how and why the rum is produced, but I was especially interested in learning more about how the brand started, the history behind it, and was struck by the phrase Alberto lives by “always do the right thing even if it’s hard”

LG: Santa Teresa was part of a little rum training I had put together for my team at Disrepute during the first lockdown so I knew about Project Alcatraz and how it started; what I did not know was the full story as told by Eric and the lengths Alberto Vollmer went to in order to do the right thing. Really fascinating story.

BLUK: How did you find the WSET Level 2 course? In general what did you get from it, and how do you think it will help you be a better bartender?

GM: the course itself was fantastic. I’ve been very blessed with great mentors who’ve helped give me a very good foundation in spirits education, but being able to go through each spirit category in such great detail side by side and taste along with it was so valuable. The introduction to the WSET method of tasting, and being able to practice that within the course itself was also very useful. Moving forwards from the course I feel much more confident in being able to help educate my customers on any area of spirit the desire, and having a world recognised and renowned qualification will be very useful to have to show my level of knowledge to potential future employers. As fearful as I am of exams, I feel very supported by the educators and am confident that I have been given all the tools to pass with flying colours, so fingers crossed.

LG: I found it really helpful to fill some gaps in my knowledge and to polish up certain aspects of a spirit’s journey that I had either forgotten or not known about in the first place… Sometimes as bartenders we are so eager to get mixing that we forget we are the very last link in a chain that sometimes starts with a farmer on the other side of the world. We need to respect the liquid, the people behind it and the work it took for it to reach our back bar. The WSET course is an excellent way to learn (or get reminded) about all of this. 

After spending two days with the group if winning students, Hannah Lanfear, founding director of The Mixing Class, told us: “It was an enormous privilege for The Mixing Class to deliver WSET Spirits Level 2 to the winners of the Santa Teresa Education comp. The twenty participants (who tuned in from all over the UK) were delightfully passionate and engaged. Most of all it was a wonderful way to bring the industry together and turn a lousy situation into something positive. Congrats to all the bartenders who took part, and all power to education champions Santa Teresa, who have given each of these bartenders something they can be proud to add to their CV.”

This was a fantastic initiative by two organisations who have expressed genuine care for the bar community. BarLifeUK doff our caps to Santa Teresa and The Mixing Class, and to everyone who entered the competition, and of course the twenty winners, who are listed below:

  • Stevan Livanis,The Sun Tavern
  • Mitchell Kings, Brat
  • Mark Mc Clintock, Every Cloud
  • Christopher Lehane, The Sun Tavern
  • Yoann Tarditi, London Edition
  • Manon Vieules, London Edition
  • Matt Reynolds, Ellenborough Park hotel
  • Lorenzo Gavelli, Disrepute
  • Michael Charles, The Milk Thistle
  • Gisellia Moore, Crying Wolf
  • Christopher Brett, Be At One
  • Andrey Bartlett, The Tippling house
  • Joe Harris, Little Mercies
  • David Miller, Kraft Dalston
  • Samanta Duerr
  • Andrea Costa, The Mezzanine at the Stratford Hotel
  • Dominic Dijkstra, Fling Bar services
  • Stefano Bussi, NoMad
  • Jemima Christie, Filthy XIII
  • Marie Kasmi, Lyaness