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!
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!
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”.
I was lucky enough to meet the legendary gaz regan at this years WORLD CLASS final in Brazil. He was exactly how I expected him to be; honest, down to earth and full of epic stories. The article below is all about Gary Regan’s past from this weeks article on DiffordsGuide, have a read…
Welcome to the world of gaz regan. This is the story of how a boy from a northern English town made it across the Atlantic and somehow became the toast of the modern bar world, helping lead the cocktail renaissance and recently being crowned with a Tales of the Cocktail Lifetime Achievement award. In what some will say is a controversial interview he talks candidly about his struggle with booze - the industry’s elephant in the room - and touchingly on the subject of his cancer. And he reveals the answers to all those questions you wanted to ask: Where’d the capital letters in his name go? Why the eyeliner? And what the fuck?
“Have you ever seen the pub on Shameless?” asks gaz regan, when asked about his childhood, growing up above his parents’ pub. He’s referring to The Jockey, the pub on a hard Manchester estate that’s run by a family of crooks, is frequented by a mixture of larger-than-life characters, booze-sodden regulars and general low-lifes, and which plays a pivotal role in the show’s no-holds-barred storylines. Well, Shameless ain’t no drama, says gaz, it’s practically a documentary of his early life.
“My parents’ pub was rough and ready, on a big council estate in Blackpool. Very working class. No-one had enough money, but I learned a lot from them. Their values were very solid, they supported each other. And my dad was the pillar of the community. He’d lend them money and he’d get phone calls at 2am from customers saying ‘I think our Eric’s died. What do I do?’ And he would phone for the ambulance. There was a bit of crime but rarely any fights - they had too much respect for my dad.
America - Fuck Yeah
“My favourite customer was a guy called Volsh, he was the toughest mother in town. He didn’t come in often but when he did he’d order a pint of bitter, and everybody would be watching what they say out of fear more than respect. But then a couple of times a year, on a night when dad had hired a piano player, drummer and compere, everyone used to do a turn and sing. Volsh would go up and sing the most soul-wrenching version of Danny Boy you’ve ever heard, then finish his pint and walk out. It was the only place where he could get shit off his chest without beating the hell out of someone, and because he showed respect he got that back.”
If spending his formative years in a pub taught him solid, family values and the value of community, it’s no surprise that it also imbued a love of the effect of alcohol within gaz. He had his first brush with booze when he was just 12-years-old, when his parents had a party on a Saturday night and somebody made him a Gimlet. “It made me feel really good and I remember thinking to myself: ‘I must remember this.’” It’s also no surprise that two years later gaz was working behind the bar on Friday and Saturday nights, and a year after that, aged 15, he had dropped out of high school and was working there full time.
But for the break-up of an early marriage, gaz may yet have stayed in the north-west of England and still be behind the bar of the same pub today, or at least sat at it. As it was, aged 19, he wanted to get as far away as he could, from his estranged wife, from Blackpool, from everything. Or as he puts it: “I scarpered.” America beckoned.
It was the early 1970s. gaz got a job at an Irish bar in Manhattan, in the Upper East Side. It was called Drake’s Drum, and he remembers it like it was yesterday - a spit and sawdust world of bawdy rugby songs where ex-pats of all nationalities rubbed shoulders - English, Irish, Australian, Kiwi sports fans loved and lost together. How far was the New York bar scene from what it is today? A very long way. But even in Drake’s Drum, they peddled their own cocktail culture, and this was a world away from the real ale served back home in England. “We had our own cocktail culture, pegged on Singapore Slings, really badly made, there were no fresh juices, it was all sweet/sour mix. Though we made White Russians, Black Russians, Whisky Sours, Manhattans, Martinis and Rob Roys really well. For special customers - basically another bartender - we’d use fresh lime juice.”
It was quickly clear that America was where he saw his future. Blackpool seemed further and further away and when he scored a Green Card, he absolutely wasn’t going home. “The bars were open until 4am, and then we’d go out and get laid a lot,” says gaz, unashamedly, relentlessly - even today - quite the ladies’ man.
But if you can take the boy out of Blackpool, you can’t take Blackpool out of the boy, and gaz says he learned most of what he knows about drinks and service from a former drinker from home who now operated bars in New York. “David Ridings died in 2000 but he was truly my biggest mentor. When I got to New York I didn’t know how to make any cocktails. He told me to sit at the service area, listen to the wait staff shouting and watch the bartender. I was young and had a great memory. Dave was strict on how to greet customers.
“It was real hospitality and he taught me how to treat people right. If a girl left her handbag when she went to the ladies’ room we’d take it for safe-keeping. We’d let them panic a while and then give them it back. If somebody was drunk at 2am, we’d find somebody sober to walk them home.” It was where he learned to listen to customers. “What pisses me off to this day is bartenders asking ‘how you doin’?’, then not waiting for an answer.”
A slew of neighbourhood bar gigs and assorted other “horrible jobs” followed in the late ’70s and early ’80s, as a barman here, manager in a department store restaurant there, before he scored a position as manager of an English pub in South Street Sea Port, called the North Star Pub. “I was there four years - and it was probably my favourite four years in the industry. It was an authentic English pub, not an American pub, serving English customers and Wall Street brokers English delights like mushy peas.” He helped open a few venues along the way, some more successful than others, some closing within a matter of months in the typical bar industry manner that seems to have been ever thus.
Throughout the previous decade he’d began to indulge a secret passion, and this would now come out in a way that would change his life. It was a love of writing. In the early 90s he got a column in a well-respected, glossy title called Food Arts, writing about drinks, more than ten years after conceiving an article, laboriously typed with one-finger on how to behave in a bar. “I was going to submit it to New York magazine but never did.”
gaz had a way with words and it snowballed. He got lots more writing jobs - for Wine Enthusiast, Nation’s Restaurant News, Cheers and the Malt Advocate, among others. He took no more bartending jobs, but of course his writing was founded on more than two decades of experience as a bartender. He published his Bartender’s Bible in 1991. Then his best-known writing gig, as The Cocktailian on the San Francisco Chronicle, came in 2003. “A woman on a press trip recommended me and to it was the best gig I’ve ever had. At one point I was writing for the Chronicle and four other magazines and it all became too much. In 2007, I quit the other magazines, wrote all four resignation emails, sent them and heaved a sigh of relief. But I kept the Chronicle.”
I was a total drunk
With that, after two decades in Manhattan, he moved upstate to the Hudson Valley, creating his Cocktails in the Country two-day residential bartending course - a forum to promote an increasingly zen-like approach to the craft that has more recently manifested itself in his Annual Manual. “It’s the opportunity to influence people in hopefully a good way. Good bartending is nothing to do with making drinks. I try to help them understand that the main part of their job is to make guests happy. That’s what drives me more than anything.
“Bartenders have an opportunity to actually change the world. I mean that in a real sense. I know that sounds stupid but as a bartender, on any given night, you have the potential to make 10 people feel better than they did when they walked in. With 100 bartenders they have the potential to make 1,000 people feel better. Boom, you’ve just changed the world.”
Where did this New Age gaz come from? It’s a long way from his Shameless upbringing isn’t it? “I call it mindful bartending and it started not that long ago, in 2003, after I had tongue cancer. I had a proper spiritual awakening - prior to that I was agnostic. My tongue cancer slapped me upside my head. I thought somebody was trying to get my attention and I started seeking why that was happening.”
Cancer was the cue for one of gaz’s now notorious changes of appearance. Look at any bottle of Regan’s Orange Bitters and you’ll see him sporting a rather large beard. Radiation therapy put paid to the hair on his chin, though not to the hair on his head, bizarrely, and he had something of a Samson-like awakening. “I think of myself as a story teller and my beard was my identity: the cancer attacked my tongue; and the radiation took my beard away. With those two things I thought ‘Oh shit, something’s going on here’.
“A friend persuaded me to see a healer, and I thought what do I have to lose? He told me a long story about how he found God and how he had been chosen to be a conduit for their love, and I thought ‘Oh yeah’. And then he said he was going to put his hands on my shoulders and that I might feel a breeze. I said OK, I closed my eyes and the next thing I knew I was lying on the floor crying like a baby. He didn’t cure my cancer but after that I was never afraid and knew it would turn out ok. Normally you hear these stories that happened to somebody’s aunt in Australia. But it fucking happened to me and I felt it.”
His cancer was successfully treated, and though he emerged scarred and looking different, gaz refused to let his resultant speech difficulties get in the way. “I thought to myself I never want to pretend this hasn’t happened, don’t hide behind it, but carry on as if it’s not there. Although my speech is not perfect, it’s not an impediment. I intend not to have cancer again and to live till I’m 100.”
I’m 60: Watch this
You might think that this period is what gaz would describe as his low point. On the contrary, he found strength from within and it was a motivating force for good. But here’s where gaz becomes surprisingly candid and talks openly about a little-acknowledged facet of the drinks world. “What was the low point? Not the cancer. It was when I was a total drunk. It was back in the early 1980s. I was such a drunk for a few years, I was in such a horrible shape. I was the sort of drunk who put vodka in your coffee in the morning. And if I didn’t have alcohol I shook like a leaf. That was embarrassing, it was terrifying and I knew I had to do something.”
He stopped - of a fashion. Anyone who know gaz even a little knows he still likes a drink - we’re drinking Negronis during this interview. He stopped drinking in the morning, stopped putting vodka in his coffee, and applied strict rules around his own consumption. This will no doubt be a bone of contention among alcoholics and recovering alcoholics, who say once an alcoholic always an alcoholic. But gaz says he was able to change his behaviour and not only continue drinking but to continue to make a decent living from it, from the Chronicle, from his books and his role as a mentor to the world’s young bartenders.
“Alcoholics and recovering alcoholics will never agree on this but the burden has been lifted from me. I’m still a heavy drinker but I’m not a morning drinker and now I never have to have a drink. I do it at opportune times.”
Yet no-one talks about alcohol addiction within the bartending community, even though we probably all know someone who has struggled, someone who canes it that little bit too much, someone with something of a reputation. Isn’t he risking a hell of a lot talking about it so openly - given that he is very public about drinks companies paying him ‘enormous’ sums of money to work for them? Isn’t he worried that the well will dry up? Should he really be applying bright pink paint to that elephant in the room?
“That period in my life has been over for many years but my ‘coming out’ on this issue is a way of opening a conversation that needs to be started in the bartending community, so I’m going to take my chances,” he says. “I think it is very hard to find a way to talk about it and certainly drinks companies struggle with it, the best thing they can do is promote moderation, and they do that very well, indeed, but that’s not to say the problem shouldn’t be acknowledged.
“Bartenders have always drunk a lot, and it’s important we talk about it. If I’m remembered for doing one thing, it should be as someone who tried to do the right thing.”
Does he think that his past battle with booze contributed to his mouth cancer? “No, I think that was more related to smoking. I think that was god slapping me across the side of my head. Telling me something needed to change.” He lists drinking as his only vice, so he’s clearly conscious about it, of the way alcohol has the power to corrupt and destruct. “It’s the only bad habit I am going to reveal, at least.”
Does he have any regrets, especially about the alcoholism? “Not for one second. Everything I’ve done in my life up to now has led to me being one of the happiest people you know. Today I feel fabulous. I am the happiest person you know. I’m so lucky. I turned 60 last September, and a lot of people are shy about their age. I prefer to say ‘I’m 60: watch this!’”
Indeed, age 60 or not, gaz continues to reinvent himself. A couple of years ago Gary Regan became gaz regan (and he’s precious about those lower-case letters) and last year he started to decorate one of his eyes with eyeliner. The first time I saw gaz with this make-up, I for one didn’t know what to say, wondering if someone had played a joke on him, wondering if this was deliberately designed to confuse. In the end I pretended it wasn’t there. “Ha, well now I try and put people at ease and say it’s my latest ‘affectation’,” says gaz. “Yes, it’s kind of Clockwork Orange though not totally as you’d have to do false eye lashes too. Eye liner is a lot easier. I enjoy it, it’s fun, of course it’s an ego thing, sure it’s ‘look at me’, but it helps me feel current. It’s all a game.”
No doubt his old regulars in Blackpool would have something to say about this eyeliner-wearing guy with no capital letters in his name. He laughs. “They would be shaking their heads saying ‘what the fuck happened to him?’.”
Ron Zacapa is one of my favourite brands in the rum category. Not only because of its great flavour and unique mix-ability characteristics, but also because of its fascinating heritage and lengthy production process. But first, let us take a step back and look at the actual “Rum” category and then finish with the Zacapa legend.
After the invention of the distillation process in the 8th century, the rum category was initially harvested and produced in India until the Arabs took the process to Spain. It was then during Spanish colonization that the process of making rum arrived in America. The original process of making rum was crude and very inconsistent, which often lead to the category only being consumed by the lower class. The sugar cane needed to make rum grows extremely well in tropical climates, which was another reason for the category doing extremely well in the Caribbean.
History of Ron Zacapa Centenario
The Ingenio Tululá sugar processing plant was founded in 1904 at Retalhuleu on the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala. Since this time it has produced raw, direct white sugar and ultimately molasses.
At the beginning of the 20th century the Botran and Requejo families were living in the Burgos province. The children of the two families married and produced five sons, and moved to Quetzaltenango where they subsequently founded Industria Licorera Quezalteca in 1950.
Also in the early 20th century, several other Guatemalan families founded their own companies and independent distilleries in different regions of the country: Industria Licorera Guatemalteca (1937), Industria Licorera Euzkadi (1930), Licorera Zacapaneca “Zacapa Distillery” (1940).
Licorera Zacapaneca was based in the province of Zacapa and was founded by three Guatemalan families named Girón, Estrada and Gordillo. Upon opening their Licorera they hired as the Master Blender a Spanish rum expert, Dr. Alejandro Burgaleta, who developed a very special rum to be made with virgin sugar cane honey, Ron Zacapa.
In 1960 Distribuidora de Licores La Nacional was created to unify the marketing, distribution, and sales of ILG, as a result of which there were dramatic improvements in both plant technology and a huge step up in the quality of the rums being produced.
The most important technological changes included the introduction of more productive cane varieties that matured earlier; new methods of cultivation, fertilization, and pest control; a new type of machete; technical organization of labor; mechanization of loading; the introduction of new centrifuges; and other procedures to improve productivity in extracting sucrose in the factory.
In some mills, cane-cutting machines were introduced, but in general mechanization has not taken over given its high cost, the special conditions necessary for the equipment to function, and the abundance of cheap labour.
At the same time, administrative modernization was also introduced, based on management methods inspired by a vision of quality control, computerized information, and annual evaluations of the harvest in the company and industry. Guatemala is now the 5th largest exporter of sugar in the world and the 2nd most efficient producer.
As the world price of sugar rose in the 1960’s, Guatemala’s sugar factories were upgraded and new state of the art factories and distilleries were built by the company. The current maturation facility at Quetzaltenango opened its doors in 1968 and was built on land 1.5 miles (2330m) above sea level, the highest such facility in the world.
Zacapa Centenario rum is painstakingly crafted through a sublime harmony of place and time. It is the specific combination of soil, climate, and altitude that make up the terroir of Guatemala, together with the unusual degree of control, that enables the devotion and passion of Lorena Vásquez, the Master Blender, to create what is widely acknowledged to be the world’s best tasting rum.
The production process is a wholly owned, vertically integrated process with exemplary quality control at all levels. The story begins with sugar cane grown in the company’s own plantations. The soil here is a fertile clay-rich volcanic type only found in Guatemala, which gives a specific flavour to the rum. The cane juice is pressed, filtered, and heated to removes water and impurities, but retain the sugar, leaving a virgin cane honey with a delectable sweet taste and the same balance of sugars as the original cane.
For fermentation a specific single strain of yeast is used which has been chosen for its compatibility with the virgin honey. It allows for a long slow fermentation of around 120 hours during which the wealth of flavouring components which characterize the rum are created. The fermented mash is distilled in a copper-lined one-column still to an alcoholic strength of between 88 and 92% ABV. The use of the column still gives the Master Blender exemplary control over the distillation process and enables the retention of the flavouring congeners.
After distillation, Zacapa goes on an amazing journey from the Guatemalan lowlands to the highest ageing facility in the world at 2300m above sea level. The rarefied atmosphere at the ‘House Above the Clouds’ provides the perfect cool climate for the slow aging of rum. Using a dynamic Solera System, barrels of rum of the same type but different age are stacked on top of each other, the oldest on the bottom and the youngest on the top, which creates a system for combining blending and ageing. Different types of barrel that once held robust bourbons, delicate Sherries, and lush pedro Ximenez wines are used at different points in the solera. Each one imparts a specific character to the rum.
The blending of the rums is an art that is only possible to master after many years of experience. The purpose of blending is to allow for the strengths of the rums to stand out while making their character consistent and harmonious over time. Lorena Vásquez, the Master Blender, believes very firmly that each barrel is a living, breathing entity and should not simply be forgotten to gather dust in the warehouse. This is why she devotes her heart and soul to nurturing them, almost as if they were children.
Guatemala was the cradle of the great Mayan civilization that dominated Central America for centuries and Mayan traditions still run deep. Zacapa is proud to represent one of them on its bottle: the band of petate. Petate is an artisanal matting hand-woven from the dried leaves of the palm. In the Mayan worldview it symbolizes the unity of everything. Just as the leaves of the palm are interwoven so are the earth and the sky, the sun and moon, and the physical and spiritual realms. This is why a woven petate band is placed around every bottle of Zacapa Centenario rum. It is a manifestation of the creativity and heritage behind the spirit, a liquid that is intimately bound up with the place and time from which it comes.
Zacapa 15 is a blend of rums aged between 5 and 15 years in the Solera System. It is soft and generous with notes of creamy vanilla, light orange, and elegant dried tropical fruits.
Zacapa 23 is a blend of rums aged between 6 and 23 years in the Solera System. It is wonderfully intricate with honeyed butterscotch, spiced oak and raisin fruit, showcasing the complexity of the solera ageing process.
Zacapa XO is a blend of rums aged between 6 and 25 years in the Solera System. It is perfectly balanced combination of sweetness, spice, fruit and spirit, a connoisseur’s delight and the ultimate expression of the Master blender’s art.
World Class winner for May - Single Malts
Well, we have finally come to the end of May which means this is the last result for this year’s regional qualifiers. This month focused primarily on Single Malts which is definitely the hardest category of the program so far.
The contestants could choose between the following Scotch Single Malts:
- Lagavulin 16yr
- Talisker 10yr
- Singleton of Dufftown 12yr
- Glenkinchie 12yr
- Dalwhinnie 15yr
We received a total of 15 recipes this month with most of our entries coming in from the Oyster Box Hotel. This month we were also very lucky to have a well known mixologist in the judging panel, Michael Stephenson. Mike has many years of experience in the industry and his credibility is highly valued. Also in our judging panel was Severin Bang from Barcode, another extremely talented and well known mixologist. After much debate and loads of conversation, we finally have our last regional finalist!
I would just like to say thank you to all those that put in the effort, it was a very challenging judging session!!
From the Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga, winning himself R2000 and a spot in next week’s regional final, I am very proud to announce the winner of World Class for the month of May…
Making a Lagavulin 16yr based recipe which he named, “Southern Rocky Shore”, the winner is…
1st place - SYDNEY MKHIZE (70%)
- Cocktail Name: Southern Rocky Shore
- Glass: Tumbler
- Method: Shake n Strain
- Garnish: Orange Peal
- 50ml Lagavulin 16yr
- 20ml Lemon Juice
- 20ml Honey
- 20ml Ginger Syrup
*This simple yet very well balanced recipe really worked well with the peaty and smoky characteristics of Lagavulin 16yr. Well done.
In 2nd place we have Gema Sosibo also from the Oyster Box hotel (69.5%)
- Cocktail Name: Dirty Dog
- Glass: Martini
- Method: Shake n Strain
- Garnish: Orange zest
- 40ml Talisker 10yr
- 12ml Cointreau
- 25ml Martini Rosso
- 3 Dash Bitters
And in 3rd Place, again from the Oyster Box Hotel, we have Douglas Shandu (63.5%)
- Cocktail Name: Glen Whisky Sour
- Glass: Tumbler
- Method: Shake n Strain over crushed ice
- Garnish: Raspberries
- 50ml Glenkinchie 12yr
- 25ml Lemon Juice
- 25ml Vanilla Syrup
- 12.5ml Black Raspberry Liqueur
- 2 Dash Bitters
The rest of the rankings were as follows:
- 4th place – Kelly John Bauwer (Oyster Box Hotel) making “Cold Toddy Martini”
- 5th Place – Siyanda Sokhela (Fairmont Hotel) making “Water of Life”
- 6th Place – Basil Nsinganu (Havana Grill) making “The Highlander”
- 7th Place – L Hactian (Oyster Box Hotel) making “LCH”
- 8th Place – Selvan Govender (Oyster Box Hotel) making “Whisky Tango Foxtrot”
Again, very well done to all of you during this program. You have all shown so much enthusiasm which has led to your progression. I have said this before but it is very inspiring to see how far you have all come since we started in January. I really look forward to next year’s World Class Program where we can raise the bar even higher.
Please support the regional finalists at the Fairmont Hotel in Zimbali resort next Wednesday the 6th of June. There is going to be some fantastic prizes to be won along with a great show.
The Regional final will consist of;
1. Calvin Folye – Fairmont Hotel
2. Selvan Govender – Oyster Box Hotel
3. Siyanda Sokhela – Fairmont Hotel
4. Christian Gaza – Luna Rossa
5. Sydney Mkhize – Oyster Box Hotel
Remember the winner and runner up is going to Cape Town (All expenses paid) to compete in the National Finals. Watch this Space!!
Good Luck and see you all there.
JOHN WALKER & SONS ODYSSEY commemorates the vision and enduring entrepreneurial spirit of Sir Alexander Walker through the ultra modern interpretation of his legendary 1932 “nautical” decanter bottle. Inspired by Sir Alexander Walker’s passion for epic journey’s; which saw his “SWING” whisky reach new heights of innovation in its blending and bottle design to become a firm favourite with the traveling elite.
JOHN WALKER & SONS ODYSSEY is crafted from three very rare, hand picked, single malts that are carefully blended and married in European Oak Casks. Also know as “The Rare Triple Malt” can be bought on OLX for the price of R38000 which includes the magnificent packaging.
Finally, it is here! The Diageo Reserve World Class competition has landed in South Africa. Coming in as the 49th Country in the 4th year of existence, this has to be one of the biggest bartending competitions South Africa has ever seen. In conjunction with super Luxury brands such as Johnnie Walker® Blue Label™, Gold Label™, Ciroc Vodka, Tanqueray No. Ten Gin, Don Julio Reposado Tequila, and many more, this competition is considered nothing less than ultra deluxe.
The program first started in 2009 in the renowned city of London. The first winner to take home the title of World Class Champion was a Greek bartender, Aristotelis Papadopoulos. In 2010 the finals of the competition moved to Greece, and took place in the town of Athens where London bartender Eric Lorincz took first place. In 2011 the finals were hosted in New Delhi, India of which a very talented Japanese bartender, Manabu Ohtake was crowned World Class Champion. And now in 2012 the finals will take place in Rio, Brazil and is going to be bigger and better than ever before. With a total of 49 countries competing and over 11,000 bartenders being trained, this is truly a global sensation. Not only does the program challenge the bartenders in every aspect of bartending, but it enables them to become a star on a global platform. There is a surplus of knowledge, skills, techniques and flair brought together to highlight the standard of which these spirit brands represent. Industry legends such as Dale DeGroff, Salvatore Calabrese, Peter Dorelli, Gary Regan, Hidetsugu Ueno and Daniel Estremadoyro come together to impart their skills and try identify a true World Class winner. The overall winner this year will take home the following;
• Publish a cocktail book, co-written by Simon Difford and distributed globally.
• Act as global representative for World Class, traveling to every continent as “The World’s Best Bartender” over the course of 9 months.
• Be the face of the World Class retail campaign in High End Stores all over the world.
• Become a recognized global media spokesperson for the art of mixology.
• Have an open invitation to visit the Reserve Brand distilleries, meet the distillers (all expenses paid).
• Become part of the World Class Guru family and take part each year in the Global World Class Final as a mentor/judge.
The Launch preparation
The launch took place over 3 days in the magnificent Crowne Royal Plaza Hotel in Rosebank of Johannesburg. Global World Class Ambassador/creator, Spike Marchant, flew in from London to be the spokesperson and representative of the program. Day 1 and 2 were for the employees of Diageo/Brandhouse and day 3 was the official launch of the Competition to the South African Trade.
Day 1 was all about category knowledge training and brand positioning with much focus on each of the spirit categories; Vodka, Whisk(e)y, Rum, Gin, Tequila, Cognac, Vermouth, Liqueurs and Creams. This was finished with a comparative tasting to understand the differences in production methods.
Day 2 was all about mixability and how the program puts a strong emphasis on Vintage and Classic cocktails and the importance of twisting them with a unique and innovative method. Each of the global delegates/mixologists spent a couple hours using the tools and ingredients to create world class recipes. This was all in preparation for the Trade launch taking place on day 3.
The Official Trade Launch
The official Launch started at noon with customers and bartenders flying in from all over South Africa. 20 selected outlets were invited to undergo an afternoon of sheer luxury. The afternoon started off with a presentation by Spike Marchant, followed by lunch. The second session started off with a tandem flair show put together by the Shaker bartenders Anil Sabharwal and Pieter Oosthuizen, which then went into the Launchpad Challenge. Teams of 5 had to work together to prepare a classic/vintage cocktail as well as a twist. The teams had to name their recipes and were judged on Taste/Presentation/aroma. The winning team members each got a bottle of Johnnie Walker® Gold Label™. The afternoon was finished off with a perfect serve demonstration of Johnnie Walker® Blue Label™ performed by myself.
Throughout the day we showcased some of our own World Class recipes that we had designed over the past couple of years to show our guests the level of sophistication we are looking to achieve. These recipes were briefed to the Shaker bartenders and were available all afternoon in the Circle bar of the Hotel. The recipes were as follows;
- JW Blue Label™ x 40ml
- Oloroso Sherry x 20ml
- Pedro Ximenez sherry x 20ml (a raisin(y) richly flavoured local sherry)
- Orange bitters x 2 dashes
- Garnish: Spray with an orange zest and discard
- Glass: Martini
- Tanqueray No.Ten x 50ml
- Lemon juice x 25ml
- Elderflower syrup x 25ml
- Cranberry juice x 50ml
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- 1 egg white
- Garnish: Orange zest
- Glass: Served in a tumbler
Four Floors Margarita
- Don Julio Reposado x 50ml
- Campari x 10ml
- Pink Grapefruit x 15ml
- Lime juice x 10ml
- Agave syrup x 10ml
- Garnish: Orange sugar/salt (orange rinds rubbed into a 2/3rd salt, 1/3rd sugar mix)
- Glass: Martini
- Ciroc Vodka x 50ml
- Pineapple mix x 35ml
- Grenadine x 5ml
- Maraschino/Kirsch liqueur x 5ml
- Lime juice x 15ml
- Garnish: Pomegranate foam with pomegranate seeds and a pineapple leaf string.
- Glass: Martini
*Pineapple Mix: Caramelize pineapple – pan fried with sugar and Ciroc until browned and blended until pureed.
*Pomegranate foam: 50% pomegranate Juice, 50% Pomegranate syrup, agar agar, egg white, dash of lime juice. N20 cartridge. Served chilled from a cream gun.
The competition has now begun and the countdown to find South Africa’s best mixologist is underway. In six months time we will be sending a bartender to Brazil all expenses paid to experience one of the toughest bartending competitions in the world. It up to us as the Diageo Mixologists to train and develop the guys to level in which they stand a possible chance of taking the title as World Class Bartender of the Year. Good Luck!
The Chicago Honey Chai’tini
One of my newest recipes that I have put together contains an American based Bourbon called Slate. This blended bourbon, which is distilled in Chicago, is now a very rare bottle of spirit, as it no longer is distributed in South Africa. I managed to saver this bottle for the past 3 years and have finally decided to put it to good use.
This whiskey has a very smooth texture with rich hints of vanilla, honeycomb and roasted cafe latte, 3 flavours I wanted to complement a brew of organic chai tea.
The recipe is as follows;
- 50ml Slate Bourbon
- 12.5ml Sweet Vermouth
- Tbsp Honey
- 25ml Lemon juice
- Grated orange zest
- 50ml Chai tea (serve from tea pot brew containing 2 tea bags)
Shake and fine strain all ingredients. Serve chilled in a martini glass with a Orange zest and a sprinkle of coffee granuals.
During the year of 2010 I spent 10 months travelling around the Caribbean working in a bar on a Luxury Yacht named Seadream. Every week we would anchor on the shore side of Jost Van Dyke Island and host a Beach party for all the guests on Board. We would put all the tools, drinks, food, decor and eventually the guests on a couple of rubber dingys and shoot them over to the beautiful white sands of White Bay. This is the flair show that I used to put on for them!