The final bartenders have been confirmed as finalists in UK final of global bartender competition, the Diageo Reserve World Class.
Diageo Reserve launched the competition in October 2013 with introductory and educational forums across the UK, after which all those who attended were invited to submit their cocktail recipe to the judges.
Mystery shoppers were sent to observe each entrant, ensuring their bartending skills extended to a high level of service, as well as fantastic drinks. The panel of expert judges, made up of drinks journalists and Diageo Reserve brand ambassadors including Andrea Montegue and Deano Moncrieffe, were then tasked with agreeing which of the talented contestants would go through to the UK final.
Imaginative cocktail recipes included the Engine Room from Robin Honhold which comprised Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve mixed with ingredients such as grapefruit oil and a homemade violet tincture, to create an incredibly well balanced drink with interesting flavours, served in branded bottles with a glass on the side.
Deano Moncrieffe, Diageo Reserve brand ambassador and World Class judge, said: "Competition this year was incredibly tough. To win World Class is the ultimate accolade for a bartender so they really pulled out all the stops and we've seen some incredible talent that is really pushing the boundaries of expert bartending and fine drinks in the UK. It's shaping up to be an outstanding year and we have some real potential in the UK to see our bartenders go far in the competition."
One bartender from each of the heats will go on to compete in the UK finals, with the overall winner joining the most talented bartenders from around the world to contest the ultimate accolade of World Class Bartender of the Year at the Global Final in July 2014.
UK regional finalists January 2014 include: Benji Williams, Sky Lounge, Leeds; Dan Berger, Mr Coopers, Manchester; Darren Ball, the Ivy, London; Nathan O'Neill, Milk & Honey, London and James Fowler, the Larder House, Dorset.