A bartender from China has been announced as world champion at the international final of the Chivas Masters competition in Tokyo.
Atsushi Suzuki (pictured centre) from the Sober Company in Shanghai triumphed after five days of challenges at the final against 14 other national winners, including the UK’s Rhys Wilson of Happiness Forgets in London.
The fourth Chivas Masters Global final required the 15 bartenders to showcase the Chivas Regal values of “brotherhood, collaboration and generosity” including both individual and team challenges.
Drawing on the bartending traditions of his native Japan, Atsushi’s winning team drinks ritual was The Double Talk, which was made using Chivas Regal 12 and presented with a focus on Japanese craftsmanship, kind service and attention to detail.
Inspired by the way in which great drinks can bring people together and cross language barriers, he collaborated with his Mexican and Hong Kong team-mates and was mentored by hospitality industry pioneer and team “sensei” Iain Griffiths, co-founder of Mr Lyan which runs bars such as Dandelyan in London.
They devised a ritual which ensured the drink could be shared and also adapted and personalised for different countries around the world.
Atsushi has won an all-access, all-expenses-paid trip to this year’s Tales of The Cocktail festival in New Orleans.
The winning Chivas Masters Collective team led by Atsushi – comprising Mexico’s Haydée Barron Flores and Ryan Nightingale from Hong Kong – walked away with the pinnacle of the range, Chivas Regal The Icon, presented in a bespoke decanter with customised Japanese glassware.
Max Warner, global brand ambassador for Chivas Regal whisky, said: “The Chivas Masters global final has again shown the world the wonderful values and principles that great bartending can harness. Atsushi fully took the Chivas Regal spirit of generosity and collaboration with him into the final, which was the eventual point of difference in a very tough field – alongside, of course, some spectacular bartending skills.
“Beyond the serve itself, teamwork and collaboration are just as crucial to the craft of drinks-making, and we have witnessed that here today, and throughout the entire contest. That is why we are also delighted to honour the entire winning Chivas Masters Collective, who helped lead our champion to victory and demonstrated that success really does taste better shared.
“For me, one of the best things about Chivas Masters is that it brings together talented bartenders from all corners of the globe. At the very heart of the competition is our belief that success is not measured by the achievements of an individual, but by those of a team – and we try to reinforce this at every single stage.
“Despite the fact it’s a competition, it’s amazing to see the bond that forms between the bartenders taking part – they all have such different skills and expertise that they want to share. Ultimately, The Chivas Masters isn’t just a cocktail competition – it’s about us building a global community of brilliant bartenders – and I couldn’t be prouder of this year’s finalists!”
Alongside Iain the other judges were another leading bartender Dré Masso, ex-director of bars for the Potato Head Group in Bali, Jakarta, Singapore and Hong Kong, Micah Melton, beverage director at the Alinea Group which operates Aviary in Chicago and New York City, bartender Chris Lowder, formerly at Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul and at The NoMad Hotel and Amor y Amargo in New York City, and Rogerio Igarashi Vaz, owner of Tokyo’s Tram & Trench.
The Double Talk by Atsushi Suzuki
40ml Chivas Regal 12
20ml Bianco vermouth
Garnished with matcha tea salt – or customised to your country
Stirred and served over block ice in a rocks glass, with a side serve for sharing.
The Chivas Masters Collective teams
Team leader: Atsushi Suzuki, China
Team member: Haydée Barron Flores, Mexico
Team member: Ryan Nightingale, Hong Kong
Team leader: Hyacinthe Lescoët, France
Team member: Daniel Huggins, Germany
Team member: Patryk Biadacz, Poland
Team leader: Masato Sakurai, Japan
Team member: Sandra Šalatová, Czech Republic
Team member: Aloisek Rodríguez Martínez, Cuba
Team leader: Roger Grüter, Switzerland
Team member: Abner Barrientos, Puerto Rico
Team member: Wouter Bosch, The Netherlands
Team leader: Adam Schmidt, USA
Team member: Benjamin Boyce, United Arab Emirates
Team member: Rhys Wilson, UK