After two days of decidedly Scottish-themed challenges, Daniel Warren of Last Chance in Nottingham was named the Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year 2018.
The two-day final kicked off at the newly opened Edinburgh Grand Hotel, with bartenders tasked with creating the perfect ‘welcome cocktail and experience’. They had to use a base of Ketel One vodka, Tanqueray No Ten or Don Julio and were given just five minutes to prepare their presentation.
The next day, the finalists were shunted up to the shooting lodge of the Gleneagles estate, where Diageo brand ambassador Ali Reynolds put them through their paces, challenging them to create a perfectly balanced smoked cocktail ‘using and highlighting the smoky notes of Johnnie Walker Black Label’. They were additionally asked to prepare in advance a smoky cocktail in a ‘ready to go’ hipflask, which they brought with them to Scotland (no doubt stashed in their sporrans).
Their final task, entitled ‘The 19th Hole’, went down at Gleneagles’ Auchterarder 70 Club House. Contenders had to imagine they were the venue’s newly appointed bar manager and, just 10 minutes into their first shift, were charged with creating a signature drink for the club house, inspired by the legacy of the famous golfing institution.
Bartenders were required to produce two full serves for the judges and 15 sample sizes for the guests, while simultaneously taking order from customers from a bespoke ‘classics’ menu.
‘World Class is all about fantastic hospitality, exceptional knowledge, skill and creativity, and Daniel has it all,’ said Stephen Martin, Diageo World Class GB manager. ‘He really inspired us, brought his own style to the competition and engaged everyone involved, not just the judges.’
His seriously enviable list of prize includes a 12-month contract worth at least £5,000 to tour the UK with the World Class team; a two-day Malts Advocate course in Scotland with whisky gurus Dave Broom or Charles MacLean; a culinary experience at the Ketel One Distillery in the Netherlands with a mystery chef; the chance to take part in the World Class Bartender Exchange; and, of course, the opportunity to represent the UK in the World Class Global Finals in Berlin.
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