Words by Timo Janse and Sebastian Cichowlas
Photography by Every Night Images
After a long and exciting road, The Netherlands has a new champion! After several rounds, including a pop-up bar round, it was Sebastian Cichowlas winning the Chivas Masters 2019. We spoke with him a few days after about his experiences, and tips for you upcoming champions!
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! So, how does it feel to be the champ? Was it what you hoped it would be?
I’m very overwhelmed and just so happy! I’m still looking for the words to describe the feeling... I think I’ll need few more months to get there. It’s the dream of so many bartenders around the world and somehow I’m living it. I always hoped for the win, but no matter how much you hope you never think it’s going to actually be you.
What was the favourite reaction you have witnessed to your success?
The moment was so crazy it’s like it’s almost a blur… I remember going up on stage with an inflatable unicorn, throwing it into the crowd and then someone throwing back at me a giant beach ball…ha! Since then I’ve just been crying with happiness almost all the time.
Then about the competition itself. Was it what you expected?
It was one of toughest rides of my life. In a way it was like a bartender bootcamp for the special forces or something. Every day waking up 6am to get sharp and in the zone before being presented with a new mystery challenge and then sleeping on average just 3-4 hours per night. I expected something less exhausting but it was totally worth it, really just the most amazing life experience.
How was the atmosphere between competitors? Cut throat? Or best buds?
Honestly the atmosphere was amazing! Chivas is all about brotherhood and community and that’s exactly what formed between us – we’re like this new Chivas Masters family. During the challenges we each devoted all our energy and time into nailing them but as soon as we completed them it was back to the best parties ever.
In the final round, each had to create a pop-up bar. What do you think made yours stand out above the two remaining finalists?
My whole team just really believed in the whole thing; the concept, the drinks, each other. We worked so hard and everyone was assigned their own tasks and executed them perfectly. Most importantly, we had a lot of fun. Chivas is a fun whisky and I wanted the team and our guests to have the best time. We definitely threw the biggest party over there!
You told us before you researched previous Chivas Masters preparing for the final? Is there one tip you can share of your key to success this year?
Never give up on your dreams!
What about the prize?
I’m going to Shanghai with my bartender team to actually open our Pirouettes pop-up! Be sure to follow us on Instagram to follow the journey; @chivas_pirouettes.
How do you think this whole experience will change you in the future, if at all?
It will open the world for me even more and I can’t wait to travel whilst doing what I love!