Jamie Jones of bar and restaurant group The Social Company has been named Diageo Reserve GB’s World Class Bartender of the Year.
After a two-day final at the Mondrian London hotel, he overcame tough competition from 10 other top bartenders to win the coveted title. He will now represent Great Britain in the global final in Mexico City in August.
They faced three key challenges in front of an expert panel of judges including Dan Dove, head of Diageo Reserve World Class, Ketel One brand ambassador David Beatty, Ago Perrone of the Connaught Bar, Barrie Wilson of consultancy Scotch + Limon, Italy’s 2012 World Class champion Dennis Zoppi, Aidan Bowie, head bartender of Dandelyan at the Mondrian London hotel and the 2016 World Class GB champion and Sandrae Lawrence of The Cocktail Lovers.
The first challenge, Made in Mexico, was hosted at Dandelyan and formed a technical assessment that analysed the competitors’ palettes, ability to balance and enhance flavour and agility. With just 45 minutes to complete the task and a list of unknown and unfamiliar ingredients, competitors were challenged to create a twist on the classic Sangrita or Verdita using Don Julio tequila.
This was followed by a bespoke workshop with Diageo’s team of flavour chemists where bartenders were tasked with creating their own essential oils to be used in a Martini for serving in the final challenge. Focusing on a key future trend, the workshop was led by Penny Wilson, principal scientist at Diageo, to explore the use of oils, solubility and their ability to carry flavour and create texture in cocktails.
On day two, finalists entered the second challenge, the Signature Serve round, where they were tasked with bridging the two cultures of their home with Mexico City to create something unique to each competitor. Inspired by fusion cooking, the challenge invited the final 11 to create harmony, balance and something that perfectly reflected themselves using flavour and tastes typically separated by geography.
The final challenge, A Table of Eight, was designed to highlight and celebrate some of the fundamental skills of a World Class bartender and create three drinks to be served alongside a three-course dining experience for a table of eight guests. Tasked to call on their creativity, knowledge of flavour and technique, bartenders curated their own sensory experience, telling their stories and creating a narrative throughout each course while invigorating their guests’ senses.
Jamie’s winning serves included a Tanqueray No Ten Martini (pictured above) made with hemp, lemon and lime oil-washed Ketel One Vodka.
His Table of Eight guests were welcomed to a sensory experience designed to reflect immersive, personal hosting occasions with a Mexican twist.
His signature serve, The Rumours Brew (pictured below), comprised Johnnie Walker Gold Label whisky, Ancho Reyes Verde liqueur, Banane du Brésil liqueur, fresh lime juice, fresh pineapple juice and Hitachino Japanese rice beer.
Dan commented: “World Class is a competition designed to celebrate the very best in bartending, inspire excellence and innovation and lead modern cocktail culture.
“Jamie truly reflects what it means to be a World Class bartender – he blew the judges away with his exceptional appreciation of flavour, sensory harmony, technique and of course ability to create and host quality and memorable experiences.
“We’re very proud to call Jamie the Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year 2017 – and can’t wait to support him in preparation for the global final in August in Mexico City.”
Jamie is group bars executive for The Social Company, headed by chef Jason Atherton, with bars and restaurants across London including Pollen Street Social, City Social, Sosharu and Social Eating House, home to the Blind Pig cocktail bar, as well as sites in New York, Sydney, Hong Kong, Dubai and Shanghai.
Jamie said: “The last two days have been so intense but incredibly rewarding. I’ve had the chance to work with an unbelievable bunch of bartenders, ambassadors and even flavour chemists, which has been a huge privilege alone. I can’t wait to head to Mexico City for the next stage of the competition and the chance to represent Great Britain.”
Alongside the trip to Mexico City, Jamie will also benefit from access to the European World Class boot camp, a trip to Don Julio in the Highlands of Jalisco in Mexico, a trip to Schiedam in the Netherlands to the Ketel One Vodka distillery, a bespoke whisky trip to Scotland, a £500 voucher for a personalised Cocktail Kingdom bar kit, Caracalla World Class bespoke bartender hand luggage worth over £1,000 and a photoshoot for himself and his signature serve with a top industry photographer.
The other GB finalists were Liam Broom of Callooh Callay, Constança Cordeiro of Peg + Patriot, Alf Del Portillo of The Natural Philosopher, Aiden Page of The Bar with No Name, Martin Hudak of The American Bar at The Savoy, Jerome Allaguillemette of Sexy Fish and Sean Fennelly of The Principal Hotel Company – all based in London – and James Bowker and Thomas Matthews, both from The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel in Birmingham, and Jon Hughes of Bramble in Edinburgh.