Following on from our first wave in May, our top 11 bartenders met once again at upstairs at Royal Palms for day one of the finals week. The bartenders had been tasked with two challenges on day one. The first titled ‘The Science of Smoke,’ where bartenders were asked to create a highball cocktail using the iconic Johnnie Walker Black Label that was inspired by the smokiness found in the whisky, as well as a personal story about themselves, where they work or where they come from.
The second challenge was the much anticipated ‘Tiki Tartan’ that highlighted similarities between diverse Scotch whiskeys found in different regions of Scotland and rums found throughout the Caribbean. The bartenders had to create a cocktail using the Tiki ‘DNA’ (mythology, flamboyance, nostalgia, storytelling, theatre and fun) to create a twist on a Tiki cocktail using Talisker 10 yr as the base.
On the top of the pile was our existing leader: Cory Scruggs from Agua whose Johnnie Walker Black Label cocktail with baked apple and butterscotch soda wowed the judges. A few points behind was Adam Slobodian from the Seven at the Ritz-carlton, Micah Jensen from Barolo, Ensor Yuseff from Pappagallos, Vincenzo D’Amato from the Kimpton and Dion Houtris making up the top 6 to move forward to the final day.
Our last day started early with the mystery challenge for the top 6 finalists, the ‘Supermarket Sweep Challenge’. Bartenders received CI$25 and 30 minutes in a local supermarket to pick up all ingredients they needed to make one stunning cocktail for the judges.
Armed with a plethora of produce and anything else the bartenders could afford, the contestants had a frantic 30 min to put down the best cocktail they could come up with. This round produced some stunning drinks but Micah Jensens cocktail with Tanqueray 10, Thai Basil, cranberry, cucumber, ginger and prickly pear soda was the clear winner and saw him jump up the leaderboard to second position heading into the final challenge.
The final round for the bartenders was the dreaded ‘Cocktails Against the Clock’ challenge and for the first time, this was done on stage in front of a crowd of nearly 150 people. With the lights on full and the cameras flashing, all the bartenders stepped up and did an incredible job completing 6 cocktails in 6 minutes for the judges to taste. From our group of six fantastic finalists, two bartenders, Adam Slobodian and Cory Scruggs again stood out from the rest with nearly faultless routines and six perfectly balanced, complex cocktails. Both ended up scoring exactly the same amount of points for the final round but when added up to the points from the previous two challenges, Cory Scruggs emerged the clear winner taking home the World Class trophy in his fourth year of trying, followed closely by Adam Slobodian in second place and Ensor Yuseff in third.
Since the finals, Cory has travelled to Costa Rica where he took part in a ‘Cocktail Bootcamp’ with the winning bartenders from Panama, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Dominican Republic to prepare for the global finals in September.
The global finals will take place the last week in September starting off at the iconic Ketel One distillery in Schiedam in Holland, before moving to the stunning distillery of Talisker on the Isle of Skye, and finally ending up in the cultural hub of Scotland, Glasgow.
In Glasgow the bartenders will compete in 6 challenges which will include: Ketel One, Talisker, The Singleton, Tanqueray 10, Johnnie Walker, Don Julio, Zacapa and Bulleit. This event will crown the world’s best bartender of 2019 and Global World Class Winner.
TAKE A LOOK BACK: 2018 World Class winner snags a ‘heavenly’ victory