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.
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.
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.