Posts Tagged ‘cocktail’


Japan’s Manabu Otake Crowned 2011 World Class Champion Bartender

July 15, 2011

Last month, I wrote about the Japan finals of Diageo’s World Class Bartending competition. Ten of the country’s top bartenders went head-to-head in a series of challenges that tested their knowledge, artistic creativity, culinary skill and physical reflexes in creating both original and classic drinks. In the end, The Cerulean Hotel’s Manabu Otake stood as Japan’s champion cocktail crafter.

Today in Delhi, India, he was crowned as the 2011 World Champion, beating out 31 of the world’s top bartenders from around the world.

Manabu Otake celebrates his victory at the 2011 World Class Finals

The champion poses with the judges

Photos via Luxury Insider

Above: Original cocktails from the Japan Finals. Champion Otake creates his Blanche Niege, runner-up Hideki Yoshida (also at the Cerulean Hotel) creates his Botanicals Perfection, and 2nd runner-up Tsuyoshi Miyazaki from the Imperial Hotel mixes his Silky Ciroc.

By winning the Japan Finals, Otake advanced to the World Finals held this week in New Delhi, India. As one of a field of 32 bartenders from as many countries, Otake once again had to prove his skill in front of a team of judges that included bartending experts Dale DeGroff, Hidetsugu Ueno, Gary Regan and Salvatore Calabrese.

Sweden’s Boudy Ghostine prepares a spice-based cocktail for Salvatore Calabrese.

The Finals consisted of six rounds of competition: The Spice Market Challenge, in which the contestants had one hour to pick out ingredients at a local market and craft a cocktail to highlight the regional flavor; Asian Food Pairing, in which they were giving a selection of distinctly-flavored dishes to complement; Cocktails Against the Clock, a speed round testing their ability to perform under pressure; and the Classic and Vintage Drinks with a Twist, Cocktail Theatre and the Stars, and Gentlemen’s Drinks and Fancy Tipples tests, which all required contestants to go beyond the basics in impressing the crowds with their knowledge, creativity and flair.

2011 Champion Manabu Otake mixes a celebratory cocktail

Photo via Luxury Insider

Brazil’s Talita Simoes completes the speed round for Dale DeGroff

Side note: Over the past decade, consumption of high-end spirits in India has skyrocketed. Alcohol sales have seen 20% annual growth over the past five years, with a projected market value of US$40 billion by 2014, making it one of the world’s biggest markets. As the world’s largest producer of spirits, these facts likely influenced Diageo’s decision to hold the world championships here.


World Class Japan: The Search for Japan’s Top Bartender

June 21, 2011

[July 15 2011 Update: Manabu Otake has won the World Championship]

Diageo, the world’s largest producer of spirits, recently held the Japan round of their World Class 2011 bartending competition. Considered bartending’s equivalent of the Oscars, World Class recognizes bartenders who bring the art of cocktail-making to a higher level. Contestants are judged on their ability to craft new flavors, revitalize classics, and create food&drink pairings while still fulfilling their age-old role as “psychologist, sociologist, businessman and gracious host all rolled into one.” For this year, the competitions were centered around six of the premium brands Diageo has released in Japan: Ciroc vodka, Tanqueray No. 10 gin, Talisker and Singleton of Glen Ord single malt whiskies, Don Julio tequila, and Ron Zacapa rum.

The finalists at World Class 2011 Japan

via Foodrink News

Held at the Hotel Grand Pacific in Odaiba in Tokyo Harbor, the competition consisted of four stages. First was the Market Challenge, in which the competitors were sent one-by-one to the nearby Wholesalers Market, where they had a limited time to choose and purchase ingredients, which they then had to use to create original cocktails. For the Food Pairing Challenge, competitors were given a selection of fine hors-d’oeuvres from which to choose two, and then had to create a cocktail for each to complement them. In the Ritual Challenge, the competitors were graded on their overall style and knowledge of the finer points of the bartending art. Finally, the Speed and Taste Challenge tested the competitors’ ability to produce Diageo’s twists on six classic cocktails (Singleton and soda, Tanqueray Cosmopolitan, Ron Zacapa Old Fashioned, Tanqueray Negroni, Don Julio Margarita, and a Ciroc Caipiroska) in under 6 minutes, all the while doing so stylishly and, above all, with superb-tasting results.

At the end of it all, Manabu Otake, bartender at the Cerulean Hotel in Shibuya, was judged best of the best, receiving exceptionally high marks in the Speed and Taste Challenge, and for his pear and vodka “Blanche-Neige” original cocktail. This was Otake’s third time in the Japan finals, and his first ever win.

2010 winner Takumi Watanabe (left) congratulates this year's winner Manabu Otake (right)

via Foodrink News

Otake will advance to the Global Finals, which will be held next month in Delhi, India.