Words by: Ian Cameron
Photography by: Rob Lawson
The Diageo Reserve 2013 World Class Bartender of the Year David Rios was crowned on the sands of Barcelona's iconic bull-fighting arena in a dramatic sound and light ceremony.
2012 Global Champion Tim Philips announced the name of the new champion and David was then mobbed on stage by his fellow competitors, judges and previous global champions Telis Papadopoulos, Erik Lorincz and Manabu Ohtake, who carried him shoulder high to rapturous applause.
The announcement was made at the end of a 45-minute ceremony MC'd by Spike Marchant which also saw the competition's challenge and regional winners named, with the World Class gurus and various master distillers from the Diageo Reserve portfolio on hand to award prizes of engraved trophy shakers. David also triumphed as regional winner and in the Punch & Glass challenge.
Mario Seijo, Puerto Rico wins Latin America & the Carribean
Jeff Bell, United States, wins North America and the rest of the world
Tsuyoshi Miyazaki, Japan, wins Asia Pacific
David Rios, Spain, wins Europe
Gareth Evans, UK, wins Red Carpet
Zachary de Git, Singapore, wins Mediterranean Mastery
Kirill Runkov, Russia, wins Time to Play
Laura Schacht, Switzerland, wins St. Tropez Market Challenge
Tsuyoshi Miyazaki, Japan, wins Kings of Flavour
Jason Clark, New Zealand and Luke Ashton, Australia tie as winners of Tapas Table
David Rios, Spain, wins Punch & Glass
Jeff Bell, United States, wins Against the Clock
David works in Bilbao at The Jigger Cocktail bar and has 20 years' experience in hospitality, having transitioned from restaurants as a maitre'd and sommelier to the world of cocktails. He owns and operates the bar with his brother, along with a cafe and events business, and is a married father of two young children.
David admirably showed up to a 9am photoshoot for CLASS the very morning after his victory was announced - a sign of his maturity and a good sign for the year to come. "Right now I feel very excited - very excited and very tired," he said. "I've had only 3-4 hours of sleep per night. I'm also a bit afraid of the responsibility of the year ahead."
He said he had found time to phone his wife to tell her the good news, but only for a few minutes. As a souvenir, he had scooped up a handful of sand from the arena where his victory was announced.
On the right he is pictured in his stateroom aboard the Azamara Journey the morning after his silver and glass winner's trophy shaker. The exclusive CLASS photoshoot encapsulates the chaos and complexity of creating cocktails for eight challenges over six days, with equipment and cocktail paraphernalia littering the room - frankly we were bowled over that he turned up to make cocktails for us at 9am having had just a few hours sleep.
Here is a selection of his cocktails from each round in the global final.
Wild Strawberries Film
Garnish: Dried strawberries, mint leaf and lemon zest spritz
Method: Muddle the strawberry with the syrup, add other ingredients and shake with ice then double strain.
50ml Ketel One vodka
20ml Aperol infused with wild strawberries
15ml Sugar syrup
20ml Kumquat and grapefruit juice (50/50 split)
1 Egg white
2 dashes Orange bitters
Magic Carpet (bottle serve)
Garnish: Grapefruit and lemon twist with cinnamon smoke
Method: Stir over ice and serve Martini-style
Tanqueray No. TEN gin
Citrus and chamomile bitters
Atomised tonic spray
Glass: Moroccan tea glass
Garnish: Thyme sprig and grated nutmeg
Method: Stir all ingredients then strain into chilled glass.
50ml Zacapa 23 rum
10ml Cinnamon syrup
10ml Almond milk
2 barspoons Mint tea
Glass: Turkish coffee glass
Garnish: Rosemary sprig and olive tapenade on the side.
Method: Cold infuse ratifia with rosemary and Turkish honey, then filter it, combine with other ingredients and stir over ice. Double strain into chilled glass over hand-cracked ice.
50ml Ketel One vodka
15ml Carmelina (innamon, clove and pimento flavoured) syrup
1 barspoon Olive Oil
1 barspoon Turkish Honey Tea
1 sprig Rosemary
Glass: Coffee cup
Garnish: Powdered bergamot and lemon twist
Method: Dry shake, shake again with ice, strain into coffee cup then top with soda to create a frothy head.
45ml Tanqueray No. TEN gin
15ml Bergamot syrup
15ml Amer Picon
10ml Sugar syrup
2 dash Citrus-Chamomile Bitters
1 Egg White
Soda to top (about 15 ml)
The Lavender Garden
Glass: Old Fashioned
Garnish: Cherry and lavender sprig
Method: Muddle cherries in a mixing glass, then add other ingredients and stir with ice before straining into an old fashioned glass over a single rock of cubed ice.
45ml Don Julio Blanco tequila
15ml Maraschino liqueur
10ml Lime juice
10ml Simple syrup
1 pinch Lavender blossom
Ketel St Tropez Flip
Garnish: Crushed almond
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice then strain into a chilled glass.
45ml Ketel One vodka
15ml Grand Marnier
10 Single cream
10 Simple syrup
1 Egg yolk
1 sprig Tarragon
Garnish: Cherry tomato filled with salt olive oil and cucumber on stick.
Method: Muddle, shake with ice and strain into chilled glass.
35ml Talisker 10-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
50ml Tomato juice
10ml Lime juice
1 pinch Garlic and Celery salt
1 inch Cucumber
1 slice Green pepper
1 slice Red pepper
Garnish: Grated coffee beans and mint leaf
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled glass then float a layer of double cream on the surface.
50ml Zacapa 23 rum
10ml Coffee liqueur
Gold Basque Punch
Glass: Wine glass
Garnish: Orange twist
Method: Stir ingredients over a large block of ice and serve in a chilled wine glass
60ml Johnnie Walker Gold Label Blended Scotch Whisky
30ml Amer Picon bitter aperitif
30ml Pineapple juice
Garnish: Orange zest spritz and accompanying snacks
Method: Stir ingredients with ice then pour into a decanter, smoke the cocktail using a catering smoker and then pour into a traditional Scottish quaiche.
60ml The Singleton of Dufftown Single Malt Scotch Whisky
15ml Pedro Ximenez sherry
1 dash Angostura Bitters
David created a rich, red-lit atmosphere evoking sunset, then presented a model of Scotland, denoting the Highlands, Lowlands, Islands and Speyside whisky-producing areas, complete with a miniature river flowing through it (referencing the water source), while calming, folk music playing in the background. He served Singleton of Dufftown with Pedro Ximenez sherry and Angostura bitters, stirred with ice and strained into a decanter which was then smoked with haya wood chips. He served it in a traditional quaiche with an orange zest spritz, on a tartan coaster. Alongside, an array of aromatic and edible botanicals and chocolates.
Garnish: No garnish
Method: Stir all ingredients over ice then strain into a cocktail glass.
30ml Talisker 10-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
30ml Glenkinchie Single Malt Scotch Whisky
30ml The Singleton of Dufftown Single Malt Scotch Whisky
David turned out eight cocktails in ten minutes of the utmost quality.
6.Gin and Tonic