This March and April, 17 bartenders from all around the Cayman Islands threw themselves back into the competitive arena and took part in the world’s most prestigious bartender competition: World Class.
This competition saw three rounds, focusing on the Diageo portfolio of high-end spirits and showcasing different global and local trends, like looking at the impact of bees and visiting our local producers. Next up – Don Julio tequila, round 2! This go around gave our bartenders the opportunity to research and try new ingredients like bulbs and roots, to really get them working ‘out of the box’.
After a break from competition in 2020, this 2021 World Class year has been one of the most exciting yet, with almost equal numbers of men to women taking part. Traditionally mixology-style bartending has been dominated by men so it’s encouraging to see so many talented and confident women stepping forward.
On Tuesday April 13th, our top 12 bartenders were cut down to the top 6. This group were required to prepare an epic speed round to thrill guests and judges alike, on stage and under pressure, while still finishing with perfectly balanced cocktails. Competitors had to present 6 classic cocktails (with their own twists) in 6 minutes. They needed to use Johnnie Walker Black Label, Ketel One vodka, Tanqueray No. TEN gin and more.
The event took place on Thursday night at The Beach Deck at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa and was a ‘who’s who’ of the hospitality industry as people sipped World Class cocktails, ate Spanish inspired dishes by the Seafire chefs and watched some amazing (and fast!) speed rounds by each competitor. The judges consisted of Cayman’s previous World Class winner 2019 Cory Scruggs from Agua Restaurant, Executive Chef of Blue Restaurant Chef Thomas Seifried and Diageo Reserve Ambassador Amba Lamb, who was also World Class Cayman winner 2017.
Aurelio Minervino from Tillies drew first spot and started off the competition in style. Christina Ravdas of The Bird was up next with a big crowd following and an 80s/90s pop up bar theme. Then there was Marlon Riera from Coccoloba flying the flag for Cuban bartenders, Tayla Fanning and then Yuleidy Sanchez, both from Backroom, had spectacular performances, finishing all 6 cocktails with flair and finesse. Lastly Angelo Solimando from Silver Palm at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman ended the night with 6 beautifully presented cocktails. For 6 bartenders who had never done a speed round, they really excelled and it showed in crowd appreciation.
The competitors were not only judged on getting the drinks out in the 6 minutes, but also on whether each drink was perfectly balanced, their own creative spins on the drinks and also their hosting of the judges and crowd.
In third place was Angelo from Silver Palm, second was Tayla Fanning from the Backroom and in top position and now the World Class Cayman Islands winner 2021 is Yuli Sanchez from Backroom!
Yuli will now represent Cayman in the global final in Madrid July 4th to 8th, in a fully virtual Final this year. She will be competing in 5 different challenges against the best bartenders in the world from 55 countries around the globe. She is already working hard on her drinks and presentations, If you would like to follow her journey you can find her on Instagram @yuleidy7928 or pop into Backroom and give her a huge high five!
TAKE A LOOK BACK:
Welcome to World Class Cayman 2021
2019, Cory Scruggs from Agua headed to the World Class finals in Glasgow
2018 World Class winner snags a ‘heavenly’ victory
World Class Studios Training: The Resourceful Bar Tender
What does being a female role model in the bar industry mean today?