2013 South African World Class National Finals
On the 29th and 30th of May, Durban will host the South African World Class National finals. The competition is taking place in a 5 star boutique hotel on the sun swept shores of Umhlanga. The Competition will be split over two days putting each contestant through 6 different challenges, each of which will test their bartending skills, theatre, knowledge and creativity. Not only will they be pushed to the limit, but they will also be judged by some of South Africa’s most prestigious faces in the food and beverage industry.
The competition kick starts at 10am on Wednesday with the first challenge called “Cocktail Mastery”. In this challenge each contestant will have to write an 80 question exam paper, conduct a blind spirits tasting and overcome a botanicals identification quiz. The written exam will be multiple choice and will cover all the trainings that have been conducted by the regional ambassadors over the past 8 months. For the blind spirits tasting task, they will have to identify 3 spirits in each category. They will know what the possible brands are, but they will have to arrange them in the correct order. They will get maximum points for identifying the RESERVE brand (Portfolio above). Finally in the mastery challenge, they will have to identify and label all 20 botanicals which will be spread out on a large table. They will have a possible 40 answers which will be listed on a separate sheet.
The second challenge of day 1 will be “Tropical Journey” in which each contestant will need to create a “tiki” style cocktail making use of exotic flavours. In this challenge it is all about the tropics and island style execution. Bright colours and fruity liqueurs! They will also have to be very cautious in their delivery to ensure that the drink still comes through as unique and sophisticated. In this challenge they will have to use the amazing Don Julio Reposado Tequila.
The last challenge for day 1 is “Retro Chic” where the bartenders will have to choose a classic recipe from the past and then deliver a modern day twist on it. They have a list of 12 recipes to choose from, each of which have been the bases of classic style bartending. Like a chef should know how to make a loaf of bread or a crème brulee, these classic recipes are at the foundation of general mixology. After making the classic recipe with their personal touch they will then have to make the “Twisted Chic” which is their own creation but must follow the same style as the classic. In this challenge they will have to make use of the super-premium Tanqueray No.Ten gin.
The second day kicks off with the “Classic Gentlemen” challenge. This challenge is all about sophistication, class and style. As the recipe will be designed for a “Classic” man, who is usually very knowledgeable, we have decided that the bartenders must only use Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch Whisky. As this spirit on its own is already refined and complex, it will be a tough task to deliver a drink that It not really changing the flavours of the spirit, but rather just enhancing them! The bartenders will be judges on technique, brand knowledge, drink taste and overall presentation.
The next challenge of the day is called “Durban Market”. In this challenge the bartenders will all be taken to the local market with a shopping budget of R150. With this money they will have to buy ingredients to produce two identical drinks. They have freedom to use any of the RESERVE brands (As above) and there will be some basic local Liqueurs available too. They will have 20 minutes to shop, 30 minutes to create and finalize their recipes and then 10 minutes to deliver the 2 drinks. They will be rewarded for unique and risky recipes that really test their creativity.
The last challenge for the World Class South African National finals is called the “Celebrity Bottle Serve” and like the name suggests, it’s all about presenting either a bottle of CIROC Vodka or Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve Scotch Whisky in the most theatrical and entertaining way possible. Usually with a bottle serve the drink should be simple and effective as to allow the consumer to be able to make the drink themselves thereafter. Bottle serves are also ALL about the “bottle” and the beauty of the brand. The bartenders will be judges heavily on how well they thought about the celebrity and why the brand/recipe would work as a personal favourite for him/her. They are also able to pull out all the bells and whistles for this challenge as theatre and presentation are what the judges are looking for!
The overall winner will represent South Africa at the Global Finals where they will go up against 50 other competing countries. The Global Final is taking place in the Mediterranean on board the Azamara Luxury Boutique Cruise liner from the 4 – 9th of July later this year. Not only will they get an all-expense paid ticket but they will also receive R8000 spending money and feature all future World Class material. In my opinion, there is no other mixology competition like this anywhere in the World, this is the pinnacle of Bartending…
Good Luck guys!
On Wednesday the 8th of May the beautiful venue of “Luna Rossa” in Gateway hosted the 2013 KZN World Class Regional finals. We had 5 contestants that battled it out over a series of different challenges. Only the winner and runner up were guaranteed a spot in the National finals taking place at the end of May.
The competition started at 10am sharp kick starting with the “Mastery Challenge”. In this challenge each contestant had to write an 80 question multiple choice exam. The exam was set to test the bartenders overall category, brand and mixology knowledge which was taught by the Reserve Ambassadors throughout the programme.
Next it was “Cocktails against the Clock” where each contestant had to make 5 drinks in under 5 minutes. The bartenders were judged on style, technique, personality and presentation whilst delivering 5 perfect recipes to the judges.
The final challenge was “Retro Chic” which was all about choosing a classic recipe from the past and putting a modern retro twist on it. The bartenders had 10 minutes to make their classic choice and then the modern twist. This is where the bartenders were able to bring out all the bells and whistles! We had suspended drinks, we had dry ice vapours, we had ice sculptures and we even had orange aromatic hand towels!
Overall it was an incredible day and at the end of it all, there was very little score difference from 5th to 1st place. It boiled down to consistency and theatre which is what World Class is all about.
- In 1st place from Harvey’s Restaurant – Hauroon Haffajee (Winning R2000 cash & a spot in the national Finals)
- In 2nd Place from Harvey’s Restaurant – Steven Saunders (Winning R1000 Cash& a spot in the national Finals)
- In 3rd Place from Unity Bar – Jason Andrews (Winning R500 Cash)
Hauroon and Steve will be going up against 2 contestants from Johannesburg and 2 contestants from Cape Town on the 29th of May. This competition will be taking place at the Endless Horizons Hotel in Durban and will be a 2 day competition. Watch this space for more info!
WORLD CLASS ‘Tropical Journey’ Results
The time has come to announce the winner of this months “Tropical Journey” theme and our final contestant for the WORLD CLASS regional finals taking place next week at Luna Rossa in Gateway. As you all know the 5 judges were out in the trade last night at Unity Bar, Fairmont Hotel and Harveys Restaurant. Yet again the competition was stiff with all bartenders showcasing individual strengths. The judges were amazed at how the level is still increasing with new surprises every month.
This month the bartenders had to create a drink that fits into the “tropical journey” theme, which basically means the drinks had to contain wild and exotic flavours that would bring out the characteristics of any of the RESERVE brands. We were introduced to Sorbets, Goo Bubbles, Dry ice sand and magical vapour. The aromas and flavours were fantastic! Please see attached the recipes that were created…
But as we all know, we can only have one winner. And as you can see from the points below, winning by 83.4% from Harveys Restaurant…
- In 1st place we have Hauroon Haffajee winning himself R1000 cash and an addition R10,000 event budget for his venue.
- In 2nd Place we have Steven Saunders winning himself R700
- In 3rd Place we have Patrick Mavundla winning himself R300 and a spot in the Regional Finals
So this brings us to the end of the monthly heats and now onto finding KZN’s best bartenders to represent in the National Finals. The regional finals will consist of 5 contestants battling it out for the regional title. As stated above the Regional finals is taking place on Wednesday the 8th of May at Luna Rossa in Gateway. These contestants will be put through 3 challenges to test their overall skills. They will be judges on Knowledge, Speed and Creativity. So here are your Regionals finalists;
1. Hauroon Haffajee – Harveys Restaurant
2. Steven Saunders – Harveys Restaurant
3. Kwanele Sydney Mkhize – Oyster Box Hotel
4. Jason Andrews – Unity Bar
5. Patrick Mavundla – Fairmont Hotel
On Thursday the 28th of March, Ciroc Vodka and Uber Zulu in Morningside joined forces to create a White Mansion Ciroc Experience. Uber Zulu have recently joined the RESERVE team as a preferred vendor of the brands.
The night started at 6pm with VIP invited guests only. These guests were treated to complementary Ciroc Serves, decadent zulu sushi and VIP treatment. We had beautiful Ciroc Hostesses which were there to communicate the brands story and to capture guest details onto a database for the Ciroc VIP experience giveaway. This was announced at 11pm and congratulations to Sean Bentley and his girlfriend for winning the prize!
At 8:30pm the doors opened to the public making way for regional DJ’s and head liner Coco Loco. The event had roughly 300 people and as you can see from the images, the décor and setup was luxurious and sexy. A great night all round!
New Bar Manager Wanted at the American Bar, Savoy Hotel
Well, this opportunity doesn’t come around very often, and I would imagine that the person who gets this exclusive role would be in for a number of industry changing decades. This position includes managing 22 staff, Erik Lorincz (Head bartender and winner of World Class 2010), and a world known bar that’s heritage alone is something to respect. I have never been to the hotel, or even seen the bar (accept in photos) but I do know that this land mark in London has led the cocktail industry for decades, and any mixologist on the planet would tell you this.
Recently I organized for some of my customers in Durban to visit the hotel bar with Tim Judge (Africa Reserve Brand Ambassador) and from what I hear it was an overwhelming experience. Just the impact and presence alone is enough to send you home with passion and inspiration to jet set you along your journey as a professional bartender. I am extremely jealous!
Good luck to whoever is successful in being awarded this title, I do hope that one day I can meet you!
Well today is the day that we announced the winner of the Johnnie Walker “Bartender Bar-Chef” leg of the WORLD CLASS competition. What an outstanding presentation of skill, enthusiasm, innovation and originality, a massive well done to our top 7 finalists for putting up a very difficult judging session yesterday!
As you know all contestants had to participate in a Whisky category training in which they were introduced to the brands, Johnnie Walker Blue, Gold Reserve & Platinum Label. The training was finished off with an advanced mixology module in which the trainees were shown various molecular techniques to help them with this month’s challenge of “Bartender Bar-Chef”. Each contestant had to submit a recipe containing one of the RESERVE Johnnie Walker Blends either paired with a popular dish or a recipe created using various culinary kitchen techniques. This challenge allowed our local mixologists to go completely out of the box. As you will see from the photos on the WORLD CLASS Facebook page, the day was filled with absolute class and sophistication. The Bar has definitely been raised once again!
But as we all know, we can only have one winner, winning by 85.5% from Harveys Restaurant…
· In 1st place we have Mathew James Low winning himself R1000 cash, a spot in the regional finals and an addition R10,000 event budget for his venue
· In 2nd Place was Hauroon Haffajee winning himself R700
· In 3rd Place was Steven Saunders winning himself R300
I look forward to the next training round of WORLD CLASS (Taking place on Monday the 18th of March – Venue TBC), of which we will be taking on the challenge of “Classic Gentleman” with the classic malts selection. In this challenge the contestants will have to come up with a recipe that would be enjoyed by a sophisticated gentlemen containing one of the following single malts; Singleton Of Difftown 12 YO, Caol Ila 12 YO, Talisker 10 YO, Lagavulin 16 YO, Dalwhinnie 15 YO or Glenkinchie 12 YO. This will definitely push the bartender’s skills to further heights!
Good luck and see you all soon!
The Diageo Reserve World Class competition seems to be changing the world of bartending as we know it. For me, it has been truly inspiring to watch as global mixologists adapt to this new era of application and technique. Gone are the days of adding a couple ingredients to a shaker with ice and serve chilled in a glass. Now it’s all about theatre and presentation, and how well you adapt this to your knowledge of the base spirit. I am in a position where it is my responsibility to teach these modern day changes, but I find myself learning more and more every day.
The great thing about theatre with recipe creation is that it opens doors for fantastic themes during competitions and demonstrations. If we look at the competitions taking place around the world; Bacardi Legacy, Diageo Reserve World Class, G’Vine Gin Connoisseur, The Bombay Sapphire Comp, Angostura Bitters Comp, etc. they are all coming up with seriously challenging criteria which puts the bartender’s skills to the absolute max. I am managing the World Class program in KZN, South Africa and the challenges are immense. This month the contestants had to create a recipe that showed there culinary skills and techniques or how well they could pair a Johnnie Walker variant with a food dish. When one looks at all the techniques used in a molecular kitchen, your options become exciting and extremely entertaining to watch. Dry ice and liquid nitrogen are becoming as common in a bar as lemon juice used to be!
I personally think it is fantastic and very rewarding, especially because it is bringing back the passion to the industry. These individuals are no longer considering bartending as a part time filler to get them to the next level, but rather as a destination profession that they take very seriously.
The video attached is something I really enjoyed, and as you will see the bar has been raised!
Well today is the day that we announce the winner of the Don Julio leg of the WORLD CLASS competition. What an outstanding month of skill, enthusiasm, innovation and originality, a massive well done to our top 5 for putting up a very difficult judging session yesterday!
As you know all contestants had to participate in a Tequila category training in which they were introduced to the brand, DON JULIO REPOSADO TEQUILA. The training was finished off with an advanced mixology module in which the trainee’s were shown what was expected of them for the WORLD CLASS competition. Each contestant had to submit a “Signature Serve” recipe containing Don Julio Tequila. This challenge allowed our local mixologists to go completely out of the box. As you can see from the photos attached we had espresso, we had syringes, we had Himalayan Salt crusts, we had elderflower sorbets and we also had sangrita!
But as we all know, we can only have one winner. And as you can see from the points below, winning by 0.3% from the Oyster Box Hotel…
- In 1st place we have Kwanele Sydney Mkhize making a “Gonzalez Café” winning himself R1000 cash, a spot in the regional finals and an addition R10,000 event budget for his venue.
- In 2nd Place we have Mathew James Low from Harveys Restaurant making a “Mayahuels Jestor” winning himself R700.
- In 3rd Place we have Mo Therese from Unity bar making a “Classico” winning himself R300.
- In 4th Place we have Andy Ngbobo from 9th Avenue Bistro making a “DJ Mango Margarita”.
- In 5th place we have Warwick Flanagan from Harveys Restaurant making a “Don Julio Flower”.
MONDAY, JANUARY 28TH, 2013: Today, WORLD CLASS, the world’s largest and most credible mixology competition, announced the 2013 Global Final will take place aboard boutique Azamara Club Cruise’s ship, Azamara Journey, from 4th – 9th July 2013. Each adding their own unique splash of creativity, dash of showmanship and twist of technique, only the 50 best bartenders will be selected to compete at the Global Final for the coveted title of Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year.
Setting sail along the French Riviera in Nice and Monte Carlo, the voyage will include stopovers in some of the Mediterranean’s most iconic and chic destinations including St. Tropez and Ibiza, before culminating in the Catalan capital of Barcelona.
On Friday the 25th of January, Harlequins in Pretoria hosted a sponsored Ciroc Vodka event as their winning prize for WORLD CLASS. As you entered the venue it was clear from the blue neon lights and dry ice vapors that Ciroc was in its playground!
The man who made this all happen was Marcel Vd Merwe, who’s winning recipe was leagues above the rest. His recipe, “The Clooney” was named after famous actor George Clooney, was made with Ciroc Vodka, fresh cucumber, mint, apple, mint ice and home made pomegranate caviar. An absolute master piece which got the attention of every consumer at the event.
Well done to Gareth Wainwright and Warren Wright for setting up such a marvelous evening.
Johnnie Walker has unveiled the first of a portfolio of whiskies that take their inspiration from the travelling heritage of John Walker & Sons. Available only in duty-free stores, the Spice Road pays homage to the global travellers of today.
The brand has long had an affinity for travel: from 1820, the Walker family and their agents travelled the world, navigating their way down the famous trade routes: the Spice Road of Europe and Asia; the Royal Route from Europe to Persia; and the Gold Route of the Americas and the Caribbean, in pursuit of adventures bringing both new business and rich experiences. Their efforts ensured that, by the 1920s, Johnnie Walker had arrived in 120 countries and was being enjoyed on the great railways, luxury ocean liners and early transatlantic flights.
Back in London, close to the shipping houses and docks from which the Johnnie Walker agents travelled the world, Alexander Walker established the Travellers’ Room where his agents would convene to rest, talk strategy and exchange stories and samples from their travels. These colourful tales of exploration influenced the Master Blenders, who began to create different styles of whisky to reflect these exotic stories.
Today, this tradition continues as Johnnie Walker launches a range of whiskies made exclusively for travellers: the Explorers’ Club Collection™. The first three blends in the collection, collectively known as the Trade Routes Series, are inspired by the richness that could be found along the great trade routes.
The first release, Johnnie Walker The Spice Road, is an evocative expression of the vibrancy, aromas and spices that one would have discovered in the thriving markets around Asia. It is a whisky of exceptional smoothness and rich flavour, matured in old oak casks for an intense finish.
“We specially selected whiskies to create a bold blend of intriguing complexity inspired by the richness of this part of the world: there is a spicy zestiness on the nose, balanced by fresh citrus. The smooth, rich and honeyed flavours on the palate, warmed by cloves, ginger and vanilla sweetness, give way to a smouldering finish of the Johnnie Walker signature smoke,” said Master Blender Jim Beveridge.
Johnnie Walker The Spice Road will be available in duty-free boutiques in Europe, the Middle East and Australia this December, before being released globally in other duty-free stores from January 2013.
Garnish: Orange Zest
Pair: White Lindt chocolate balls
- 50ml Don Julio Reposado
- 25ml Agave Necter
- 30ml Espresso
- Dash of Fee brothers orange bitters
Method: Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and shake vigorously. Fine strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with an orange zest. Pair on a white dish with white chocolate.
As part of the WORLD CLASS program in South Africa, every month there is a outlet incentive of R10000 cash for a customized RESERVE event. In month one of the program, Harvey’s Restaurant in Morningside, KZN was the winner and decided to host some of their premium clientele with an exclusive evening hosted by Johnnie Walker® Platinum Label™.
The idea of the event was to showcase the new variant with an informal whisky tasting followed by some really intricate molecular food pairing and luxury liquid serves. We had live singing from a local artist as well as the new RESERVE recipes which are going into the new WORLD CLASS iPad menu in January.
The event was well attended and gained some great media coverage. Overall it was a successful evening paying tribute to the luxury standards of the outlet and the Johnnie Walker® Platinum Label™ brand itself.
The images were taken by Oliver Twist Productions.