Aidan Bowie named GB World Class bartender of the year

Scottish bartender Aidan Bowie has been crowned Diageo Reserve’s GB World Class Bartender of the Year after three days of challenges.

He was announced as winner after a final round at Rosewood London hotel last night, battling it out with 10 other bartenders from around the country. He will represent Britain in the global World Class final in Miami in September.

Aidan, who is from Edinburgh, works at Dandelyan at the Mondrian London hotel on the South Bank. As part of the prize, the bar will be awarded a one-off £10,000 marketing fund to create its own World Class drink to celebrate his success.

He is pictured centre with last year’s GB winner, Ali Reynolds of Hawksmoor Spitalfields in London and Dan Dove, head of Diageo Reserve World Class GB.

Aidan was credited by the judges for his “true knowledge and understanding of flavour”, coupled with “innovative and forward-thinking ideas”.

Dan said: “Aidan Bowie’s World Class journey has been remarkable. Throughout both the semi-final event and this week’s final, he has consistently impressed the judging team with broad thinking, incredible knowledge base, and pioneering ideas.

“Aidan Bowie epitomises a Diageo Reserve World Class bartender and we are extremely proud to have him now represent Great Britain at the global final in September.”

Aidan added: “I am so proud to have earned my place at the World Class global final. This year’s competition has been beyond tough in terms of the challenges but also the level of skill and talent I have witnessed amongst the other competitors. I am very pleased and honoured to go through to the next stage of Diageo Reserve World Class.”

The three-day GB final took the 11 finalists to venues including Fanhams Hall in Hertfordshire, Diageo’s Global Innovation R&D Centre in Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire and east London restaurant Blixen.

The different challenges were judged throughout by the Diageo Reserve team of brand ambassadors, flavour chemists and industry experts, including Ali Reynolds and bartender Alex Kratena of bar industry collective P(our).

The first day at Fanhams Hall provided competitors with an overview of the theme and what to expect from the days to come, followed by an inspiration session hosted by Penny Willson, principal liquid scientist for Diageo’s European innovation, and Stephen Hart, principal flavourist at flavour and fragrance manufacturer IFF.

The session was designed to spark curiosity and creativity and introduced competitors to a selection of unknown ingredients which formed the basis of their signature cocktail.

The first challenge, The Art of Umami, tasked bartenders to create and present judges with both a long and a short serve that showcased and highlighted the largely unexplored flavour of the hotly debated fifth basic taste.

The second day of the competition was spent at Diageo’s Global Innovation R&D Centre. Each bartender was supported by a team of Diageo scientists and flavour specialists to develop their own bitters, using state-of-the-art equipment, before bottling and branding their product.

Bartenders then worked to design a signature cocktail and paired the bitters with a brand from the Diageo Reserve luxury spirits portfolio for presenting the following day at Rosewood London.

Following an overnight stay at London’s Mondrian Hotel, bartenders moved to Blixen to undertake a three-part “Deconstruct – Reconstruct” task with a focus on classic cocktails. They were then challenged to source their own vessel and garnish with a budget of £100 in only two hours.

They moved on to Rosewood London and prepared to unveil their bitters alongside their signature cocktail for the final round, themed “Into the Unknown”.

Aidan’s Martini-inspired cocktail used the bitters he had created using vetiver – a grass with woody, herbaceous aromas and flavours. He also invited people to rub their hands in a special hand cream infused with the same flavour as the bitters before drinking.

Dan added: “World Class Bitters Series #4 is an exceptional product and the signature serve, Vetiver Woodland Martini, brought the flavour make-up to life perfectly alongside his choice of Tanqueray No Ten.”

The finale event was opened to guests, including 30 consumers who formed a public vote, which was added to the judges’ final scores – a first in the British competition’s history.

Nick Temperley, head of Diageo Reserve GB, commented: “We have witnessed world-class bartending throughout this year’s competition and my congratulations and thanks go out to all of the competitors who make the Diageo Reserve World Class competition what it is today.

“The UK is a leader in drinks innovation and quality and we will be supporting Aidan Bowie in the run-up to the global final competition later this year.”

Pictured below with Aidan, the 10 other bartenders to win places in the GB final were:

  • Gordon Purnell from Panda & Sons, Edinburgh
  • James Bowker from The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel & Cocktail Lounge, Birmingham
  • Lorenzo Antinori from Dandelyan at The Mondrian Hotel, London
  • Dominic Whisson from The American Bar at The Savoy, London
  • Jerome Allaguillemette from Sexy Fish, London
  • Liam Broom from Callooh Callay in Shoreditch, London
  • Sean Fennelly from Milk & Honey in Soho, London
  • Scott Gavin from Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London
  • Tim Laferla from City Social in the City of London
  • Kyle Wilkinson from The Blind Pig in Soho, London.

World Class GB finalists

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