Jessica Mili from Canada has been crowned Bols Around the World Champion 2017, beating 2,000 bartenders from around the world including the UK.
At a grand final in Amsterdam, she was declared winner after impressing judges with her Bols Genever cocktail, Still Life, which featured an interactive piece of art where guests could add colour to the artwork, making it their own.
It combined Bols Genever Original with cinnamon-infused Bols Maraschino, Tio Pepe fino sherry, lemon juice, sugar, salt and fennel juice.
Jessica (pictured), who earned the title of “Bols Genever Pioneer”, competed against finalists from Mexico, Malta, Canada, Poland, India, Russia and Japan. The competition attracted entries from 75 countries including the UK.
The final involved each of the seven finalists working at one of the seven participating bars: Huf, Bar Paul, Lion Noir, Snappers, Rose’s Cantina, A l’Elephant du Congo and Bar Broker on Amsterdam’s Reguliersdwarsstraat – renamed Bols Geneverstreet for the evening.
Each of the bars was decorated by the finalist to convey their Bols Genever concept alongside serving their signature cocktail.
Malika Saidi, head of the judges and Lucas Bols global brand ambassador, said: “Jessica’s hospitality shone through. She was so natural, great under pressure. Her drink was delicious and accessible for everyone and she brought her concept to life throughout the entire evening.”
Malika sat on the judging panel with cocktail historian David Wondrich, bartender and writer Jim Meehan, Lucas Bols master distiller Piet van Leijenhorst, Lucas Bols master bartender Ivar de Lange, and BATW 2014 winner Kate Gerwin.
Huub van Doorne, CEO of Lucas Bols, said: “This year marks many firsts for Bols Around the World, which has been running for nine years. This is the first time the competition has been dedicated to Bols Genever and the first time we have opened the competition to the public and taken over an entire street. This format allowed the finalists to not only demonstrate their cocktail creating skills, but also their hospitality in a real-life setting.”
Jessica, who works at Civil Liberties bar in Toronto, added: “I am thrilled to win. It’s surreal. I already felt like a winner being in Amsterdam for the past few days. I think it’s important to know your guests in order to give them a good time. I love people and that’s why I love bartending.”