Week of the Bacardi Legacy Finals

Words by Cécile Fayn

Photography by Ming Chao

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In October 2018, bartenders from fourty nine different countries enterd Bacardi Legacy 2019. After months of competing, thousands of guestshifts, events and marketing campaigns, all the countries came up with their champion.

Last week the grand finals were held in Amsterdam. It was a week of not only competing, but also seminars, amazing parties, being re-united with old friends, and making new ones.

On Friday, everybody was invited to the A’dam tower, where the order of competitors for the semi-finals was drawn. With Ronnaporn Kanivichaporn (Thailand) being drawn as the first competitor and Ever Gao (China) as the last one, all the competitors now knew their spot for the two semi-final days to come.

After some delicious drinks at the A’dam Tower in Amsterdam North, made by previous Bacardi Legacy winners, Vitaly Alekseyev, Boudewijn Mesritz, Anya Montague, Timo Janse and off course Eric Van Beek, last year’s global champion, the barcrawl continued. Visiting some of Amsterdam’s finest cocktail bars.

Every morning the competitors started their mornig with a wellness session, some physical exercise for a fresh start. After a day of seminars and preparations on Saturday, it was Ronnaporn’s chance to kick-off the semi-finals on Sunday morning at the QO hotel in Amsterdam. While half of the competitors did their cocktail presentation, the other half did their marketing presentation and a short bar takeover to showcase their drink for the rest of the crowd. And the other way around on the second day of semi-finals.

This year’s judges panel for the semi-finals consisted of Ran van Ongvalle (2017 BACARDÍ Legacy global champion), Yael Vangoff (Bar director LA’s ‘Spare Room’), Thanos Prunarus (Founder and operator ‘Baba Au Rum’), Sandrea Lawrance (The Cocktail Lovers Magazine) and Yao Lu (co-founder at Shanghai’s Union trading company).

The judges for the marketing campaigns were Lisa Jedan (Vice president, Global Brand Comms), Boudewijn Mesritz (Co-owner Tales&Spirits, 2012 BACARDÍ legacy global finalist) and Jacob Briars (Global Advocacy Director, Bacardí).

After two days of competing, the judges announced the top 16 on Monday night during an amazing evening in Chin Chin Club in Amsterdam. Shortly after the announcement of the top 16, the top 8 was being called. This top 8 would be competing in the grand finals on the next day.

The top 8 and their drinks:

Chantelle Gabino – Cambiar (Canada)
Chelsie Bailey – Rum Reverie (United Kingdom)
Fillipos Tasoulas – Infinita (Greece)
Hiroyasu Okanuma – Evolver (Japan)
Matias Peredo Aceval – 1862 Flip (Chili)
Matthew Wakeford – El Meu Avi (United Arab Emirates)
Nicole Fas – Ritmo Tropical (Puerto Rico)
Ronnaporn Kanivichaporn – Pink me Up (Thailand)

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On Tuesday night, the 14th of May, the grand finals were held in theater ‘Rode Hoed’ in the center of Amsterdam. The big hall was filled with over two hunderd people watching the finalists compete. For the grand finals, there was another great panel of judges, containing: Eric Van Beek (2018 BACARDÍ Global champion), Juan Pinera (Meastro de Ron BACARDI), Julie Reiner (New York Bar owner, celebrated mixologist and industry mentor) and Ian Burrel (Global rum ambassador).

Just like in the semi-finals, the candidates had two minutes preparation time on stage, while their brand ambassadors watched from the side, nervous but excited. After those two minutes they had six minutes to present their drinks to the judges and the crowd. This is the top eight, the level is high, and everyone gave a great presentation, staying true to their own style.

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Before naming the winner the judges announced the top 3:

Matthew Wakeford – El Meu Avi (United Arab Emirates)

40 ml Bacardí Carta Blanca
5 ml St. Germain
50 ml Lemon Sherbet
2 dashes Celery Bitters
3 basil leaves

Nicole Fas – Ritmo Tropical (Puerto Rico)

45 ml Bacardí Añejo Cuatro
22,5 ml Sweet pineapple juice
15 ml Lime juice
15 ml Martini Bianco
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Bar spoon Absinthe

Ronnaporn Kanivichaporn – Pink me Up (Thailand)

45 ml Bacardí Carta Blanca
20 ml Lemon juice
10 ml Orgeat syrup
5 ml Olive brine
1 pc fresh tomato
5-7 Basil leaves

In the end of the evening it was Ronnaporn Kanivichaporn taking home the trophy! He is the 2019 BACARDÍ Legacy Global Champion and will be taking the trophy back to Backstage Bar in Bangkok, Thailand!

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The week finished with a celebration day, where more prizes were given away in an improv flair competition finished by an insane dance off!