Champion announced at Bols Around the World global final

US bartender Kate Gerwin (pictured) was announced as the 2014 champion of the international Bols Around the World cocktail competition last night.

She won with a cocktail called Brown Chicken, Brown Cacao, which combined Bols Brown Cacao, Bols White Cacao and Bols Natural Yoghurt liqueurs with spiced almond milk and black walnut bitters. It was inspired by a modern US classic, the Smith & Curran, created in Kate’s home town of Bismarck, North Dakota.

She was one of eight finalists at the competition held in a venue at the Westergasfabriek complex in Amsterdam, alongside UK winner Elliot Ball (pictured below) of London bar Steam & Rye.

Kate is a well-known figure on the US bartending scene and runs Imbibe bar in Albuquerque in New Mexico as well as working as a consultant through Barmagic of Las Vegas.

She and Elliot were part of a group of 17 who won places in the semi-finals that took place in Amsterdam over the four days before yesterday’s grand final. They were selected from over 3,000 bartenders in 76 countries who entered the annual competition this year.

The grand final was broadcast via a webcast globally, with viewers able to vote for their favourite bartender to win the Audience Award which went to Frederic Lafontaine from B1 Bar in Montreal, Canada. The action-packed hour-and-a-half show also featured a flair show by world champion tandem flair artists Tomek & Marek.

Kate’s prize includes a 10-day global bar tour, a guest bartending shift in top bars in four cocktail capitals of the world and the chance to represent Bols Around the World at a number of major global events during the year.

She said: “I am honoured. I have been on the most incredible journey here with Bols, together with the judges, the past winner and especially the other competitors. Even though we have been competing hard against each other we helped one another all the time and the judges have been so positive.

“I am thrilled with the prospect of representing Bols for a year. I hope I can do this incredible historic brand the justice it deserves because it has been instrumental in not only my career but that of so many bartenders’ careers.”

The global panel of judges across both the semi-finals and grand final were headed by Malika Saidi, head trainer at Bols Bartending Academy. The other judges were: Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry of The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog in New York city; Robbie Bargh, founder of global hospitality consultancy Gorgeous Group; Ago Perrone, global brand ambassador for Galliano and head mixologist at London’s Connaught Bar; and Rusty Cerven, Bols Bartending World Champion 2013 and bartender at the Connaught Bar.

Malika said: “This year the competition was incredible as our finalists worked extremely hard to impress the judging panel with their expertise. We were thoroughly impressed with all of the finalists’ performances and it was a very tough decision to choose one winner out of a very close top three.

“However, Kate’s all-round bartending skills, knowledge, creativity and innovation stood out, as well as her amazing presentation skills.”

Lucas Bols chief executive Huub van Doorne added: “The Bols Bartending World Championship continues to inspire the industry, encouraging the world’s most talented bartenders to get involved and present their best efforts.

“This year we also webcast the competition live for bartenders around the world to witness, which was a huge success. Innovation is at the heart of what we do at Bols and the 2014 champion, Kate Gerwin, embodies that mindset and we are looking forward to collaborating with her.”

Brown Chicken, Brown Cacao by Kate Gerwin (US measures)

2oz Bols Cacao Brown
1.5oz Bols Natural Yoghurt
0.5oz almond milk
half a teaspoon of cardamom seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise pods
2 dashes black walnut bitters
Bols Cacao White Foam

In an ISI container, rapid infuse cacao and yoghurt with cardamom, cinnamon, star anise. Then strain and combine with remaining ingredients apart from the foam in a Perlini. Shake and carbonate. Strain into a small milk jug glass and top with the Bols Cacao White Foam. Garnish with grated nutmeg or spices and a candy striped straw.

Click here for Kate’s Bols Around the World entry.

Click here for the full video of the grand final.

Click here for a biography of Kate Gerwin from Tales of the Cocktail.

Elliot Ball
Updated May 22, 2014

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