World Class GB Bartender of the Year 2016

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Most cocktail competitions are just that – more about the cocktail than the bartender. World Class is most definitely a bartender competition, but as it attracts the very best bartenders, with them come some great cocktails (recipes below). World Class tests a wide range of a bartender’s skills and you can test yourself with one of the challenges the finalists took below. But first, the bartenders…

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The finalists

The intention was to find ten finalists, five each from two gruelling semi-final 'bursts', each comprising a full day of different tests and assessments designed to find the best bartenders in Great Britain. The second of these bursts was so hotly contested that the judges were unable to decide on just five finalists and consequently the final, held across three days (7-9th June), saw 11 very talented bartenders compete to be World Class GB Bartender of the Year 2016.

Jerome Allaguillemette - Sexy Fish, London
Lorenzo Antinori - Dandelyan, London
Aidan Bowie - Dandelyan, London
James Bowker - The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel & Cocktail Lounge, Birmingham
Liam Broom - Callooh Callay, London
Sean Fennelly - Milk & Honey, London
Scott Gavin - Rosewood Hotel, London
Tim Laferla - City Social, London
Gordon Purnell - Panda & Sons, Edinburgh
Dominic Whisson - The American Bar at The Savoy, London
Kyle Wilkinson - Beaufort Bar, London

The prize and winner

After three days of challenges, Aidan Bowie from London's Dandelyan was announced The 2016 World Class GB Bartender of the Year. He will go on to represent Great Britain at the global final, to be held in Miami in September. Aidan will also be invited to travel worldwide to educate and identify new talent, and become a mentor or judge in next year's competition. In addition, Dandelyan will receive a one off £10,000 marketing fund for Aidan and his colleagues to create their own World Class ritual serve.

The Challenges

The Art of Umami - The finalists went head-to-head in a signature drinks challenge focusing on umami. The existence, properties and effects of umami have been fiercely debated since it was first proposed as a basic taste in 1908 and even now is not understood by most. In advance of arriving at the final, finalists were asked to design two cocktails that they felt 'heroed' the umami flavour. They were asked to explore this relatively untapped flavour & show the judges a new way to look at the flavour profiles of their cocktails.

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Into The Unknown Challenge - The finalists were given access to Diageo's Innovation Centre/R&D facility where flavour chemists and innovation specialists work on developing new products. The bartenders were challenged to create their own bespoke bitters working with Diageo's experts, and then to design a signature serve that pairs their bitters with one of the Reserve brands.

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Deconstruct/Reconstruct Challenge - Consisting of three rounds designed to test the palate and knowledge of classic cocktails. The bartenders were presented with five ingredients to blind taste, identify and then state the classic cocktail made with these ingredients. They were also challenged to taste and identify three different styles of Dry Martini, also stating the brands used. Another test quizzed their knowledge of classic cocktails, and you can test yourself:

The bartenders were challenged to name as many classic cocktails as possible that can be made only using the following 11 ingredients along with water (cold & hot but not carbonated), ice and common garnishes.

1) Whisk(e)y (Scotch, Irish, bourbon or rye), 2) gin (all styles), 3) sweet vermouth, 4) dry vermouth, 5) Benedictine DOM liqueur, 6) Luxardo maraschino liqueur, 7) Heering cherry brandy liqueur, 8) orange juice, 9) lemon juice, 10) sugar, 11) bitters (Angostura, Peychaud's, orange etc).

How many classic cocktails can you make with the 11 ingredients above? Answers at the bottom of this page - so far I've found 30 but I'm sure there are many more. And that's without including every possible variation of a Martini. If you find more then please let us know via Twitter (@diffordsguide) or Facebook (diffordsguide).

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Finalists on starters orders at start of Market Challenge

Market Challenge - A market challenge with a difference. The bartenders were given £100 cash to shop for the glassware, garnish and any props used to present their signature cocktail in the next and final challenge. They were given two hours and that included travelling across London, their transport paid for within the £100 budget. To ensure they were not helped along the way a brand ambassador accompanied each competitor. Surprisingly, all made it to the destination in time, despite some being very ambitious as to how far they travelled to seek out something special. Their respective hauls stretched from vintage glassware purchased from a market stall to brand new stems from John Lewis department store. The challenge tested their haggling skills as much as it did their creativity.

Signature Serve Showcase Challenge
On the third and last evening, the bartenders were each provided with a bar from which to present their signature serve to around 160 invited guests at a black tie finale. The guests included 30 consumers who voted for their favourite as well as a judging panel comprising of Dan Dove (Senior Reserve Brand Ambassador), Ali Reynolds (World Class GB Winner 2015), Alex Kratena (Pour), Penny Wilson (Principal Scientist Diageo Innovations) and myself.

Each presented their signature cocktail, designed to highlight both their base spirit of choice and the bitters they created the previous day. This is also when the result of their various shopping expeditions as part of the "market challenge" were revealed. As you'd expect of a World Class final the presentation each made to the judges was brilliant - some amusing, some educational and all very different from one another.

Follows recipes from the drinks they made. Obviously you won't have their very special one-off bitters but I'd still encourage you to try making these excellent drinks yourself - some are very easy to make.

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Lapero by Jerôme Allaguillemette
Glass: Maille pot
Method: Throw all ingredients with ice and strain into ice-filled glass.
50ml Cîroc vodka
2oml Monin peach liqueur
10ml Green Chartreuse
30ml Dolin Dry
15ml Lemon juice
1 piece Lemon verbena

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Ancestral Sour by Lorenzo Antinori
Glass: Tiny rocks glass
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.
40ml Don Julio Blanco tequila
20ml Fino sherry infused with parsley
25ml Lemon juice
5ml Sugar syrup
4 drops Lorenzo's Magnolia flower bitters
1 drop Tabasco

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Vetiver Woodland Martini by Aidan Bowie
Glass: Coupe
Method: Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass.
50ml Tanqueray No. Ten
10ml Lemon verbena infused Dolin dry
7.5ml Manzanilla sherry
1 spoon Celery slat solution (10:1)
3 dash Aiden's Vetiver bitters

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A Thing Called Love by James Bowker
Glass: Cocktail
Method: Throw all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass.
40ml Cîroc vodka infused with tomato water
7.5ml Yellow Chartreuse
10ml Lillet Balnc
5ml Pore William eau-de-vie
0.6ml James' Violet Leaf Bitters
1 slice English cucumber

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Lost Garden by Liam Broom
Glass: Collins
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into ice-filled glass
50ml Tanqueray No. Ten
20ml Fennel infused vermouth
15ml Tarragon syrup
10ml Citrus sherbet (lime & white grapefruit)
20ml Lime juice
1.5ml Liam's Tagete bitters

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A Man In A Hurry by Sean Fennelly
Glass: Coupe
Method: Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass.
40ml Ron Zacapa 23
30ml Dolin rouge vermouth
10ml Manzanilla sherry
Mist with Sean's Blackcurrant bud bitters

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Kodheu by Scott Gavin
Glass: Goblet
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.
35ml Talisker Storm
20ml Grahams LBV port
1 spoon Raspberry jam
2.5ml Balsamic vinegar
4 drop Scott's Davana bitters

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Eagle Greek by Tim Laferla
Glass: Coupe
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.
50ml Bulleit Rye
15ml Lemon juice
15ml Parsely syruo (2:1)
2 dash Tim's bitters
20ml Egg white

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Thrillingly Softly by Gordon Purnell
Glass: Balloon
Method: Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass.
50ml Tanqueray No. Ten
20ml Fino sherry
2.5ml Crème de Mûre
2 leaves Kaffir lime
1 pinch Salt
2 dash Gordon's Labdomen bitters

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Storm Blowing by Dominic Whisson
Glass: Collins (presented in a hurricane glass)
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain back into shaker. Shake again with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.
50ml Talisker Storm
7.5ml Agave syrup
15ml Lime juice
25ml Coconut water
1 dash Egg white
10 drops Moss oak
Mist with Dom's Moss Oak Bitters

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Vote For Pedro by Kyle Wilkinson
Glass: Small flute
Method: Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled glass.
30ml Don Julio Reposado
2.5ml Kyle's Pink peppercorn bitters
5ml Pedro Ximénez sherry
7.5ml Dark crème de cacao
7.5ml Sugar syrup (2:1)


Classic cocktails made with the 11 ingredients from the Deconstruct/Reconstruct challenge.

1. Aviation
2. Blackthorn Irish
3. Brainstorm
4. Bronx
5. Caprice
6. Casino #1
7. Churchill
8. De La Louisiana
9. Dry Martini
10. Fitzgerald
11. Ford
12. Gibson Dry Martini
13. Gin & It
14. Gin Fix
15. Gin Old Fashioned
16. Gin Sling
17. Gin Sour
18. Hoffman House
19. Manhattan (Dry, Perfect & Sweet)
20. Martinez
21. Mizuwari
22. Monte Carlo
23. Old Fashioned
24. Olivette
25. Pink Gin
26. Rolls Royce
27. Singapore Sling (Savoy recipe)
28. Straits Sling (Savoy Recipe)
29. Sweet Martini
30. Whisk(e)y Sour (Scotch, bourbon, rye, Irish etc)

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