Eight bartenders announced for Bacardi Legacy global grand final

Bacardi 8 finalists website

After months of developing and promoting cocktails fit to be modern classics, the 34 bartenders at the Bacardi Legacy global final in Sydney have been reduced down to eight.

At a ceremony in the Art Gallery of New South Wales last night, the judges announced the eight who will compete at a grand final in Sydney Town Hall tonight.

They will be: Jad Ballout of Central Station in Beirut for Lebanon; Faye Chen of Speak Low in Shanghai for China; Peter Chua of 28 HongKong Street in Singapore for Singapore; Xaris Darras of Mr Peacock in Athens for Greece; Frank Dedieu of Redwood in Lyon for France; Denzel Heath of Thirst in Cape Town for South Africa; Karim Mehdi of Saba in Dublin for Ireland; and Yorkshire-born Barney Toy of Society & Nook in Auckland for New Zealand.

The UK’s Ally Martin of Peg + Patriot in east London performed well but missed out on a place in the grand final in a year that organisers said was characterised by very high standards and superb cocktails.

The semi-finals took place over two days at the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney, with the competitors doing two presentations in front of two sets of judges – one on their drink and its inspiration and the other on how they had marketed it and gained listings over a period of up to six months.

Mediterraneo Jad Ballout’s cocktail, El Mediterráneo, was inspired by two modern classics, Dale DeGroff’s Whiskey Smash and Jörg Meyer’s Gin Basil Smash but his presentation traced its roots back to the Julep and its Middle Eastern predecessor, the Julab, made with rose petals. The olive oil floating on the top symbolises both the Mediterranean and the first homemade rum that founder Don Facundo Bacardi Massó used to sell in recycled olive oil tins.

El Mediterráneo by Jad Ballout
50ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
10ml Skinos mastiha liqueur
20ml Lemon juice
20ml Sugar syrup (1:1)
6 fresh basil leaves
Olive oil
Add lemon juice, sugar syrup, Bacardi Carta Blanca and mastiha and muddle all together with basil leaves. Shake with ice cubes, double strain and serve in a chilled vintage coupette with no ice. Float olive oil on top.

Gold FashionedFaye Chen, from Taiwan, explained that her cocktail, Gold Fashioned, was inspired by the old and the new that she finds in her current home of Shanghai. “In this city of old and new, I want to use the classic drink, Old Fashioned, to create a new classic,” she said. Her twist on the classic uses longan fruit, similar to a lychee, which is commonly found in southern Asia.

Gold Fashioned by Faye Chen
50ml Bacardi Carta Oro
25ml Honey longan water
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Stir and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with honeycomb.

Sugar ManPeter Chua, who works at 28 HongKong Street in Singapore under general manager Zdeněk Kaštánek, was inspired by Sugar Man, the 1969 classic folk song by American musician Sixto Rodriguez. With its lyrics about searching for the “sugar man” to bring him salvation, Peter compared it to Don Facundo creating Bacardi rum as an alternative to the rougher rums available at the time.

Sugar Man by Peter Chua
45ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
15ml Fresh lime juice
15ml Rich ginger syrup
45ml Ginger beer
3 dashes Absinthe
5-6 slices salted cucumber
Pour all ingredients except the ginger beer into a shaker and shake. Fine strain over ice into a Collins glass. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with a cucumber flower or fan.

Clandestino Xaris Darras also took his inspiration from a song. Clandestino, by the Spanish-born French musician Manu Chao. It is about a man’s exile from his own country which Xaris compared to the Bacardi family’s exile from Cuba in 1960 after Fidel Castro’s revolution. His drink, also called Clandestino, includes spice from iconic British ingredient, Worcestershire sauce.

Clandestino by Xaris Darras
60ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
15ml St-Germain elderflower liqueur
25ml Lime juice
20ml Pineapple juice
15ml Homemade honey-vinegar
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Hard shake and fine strain into a coupette glass. Garnish with dried lime and mint.

Le LatinFrank Dedieu’s “simple, elegant” drink, Le Latin, was inspired by his family’s roots in the Montpellier and Marseillan area of France where they grew grapes and Don Facundo himself once sold wine. He added that Bacardi was “the rum that made me want to become a bartender”.

Le Latin by Frank Dedieu
45ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
20ml White wine (preferably a viognier)
20ml Lemon juice
6ml Olive brine
2 barspoons sugar cane (caster sugar)
Shake and strain into a coupette. Garnish with an olive.

The LennoxDenzel Heath’s drink, The Lennox, is named after the first cocktail bar where he worked in South Africa and learned about “the importance of self-expression, non-conformism and how to host an incredible fun-filled experience”. He dedicated his drink to the “so many other bartenders that changed the lives of people”.

The Lennox by Denzel Heath
50ml Bacardi Carta Oro
12.5ml Pedro Ximénez sherry
12.5ml Banana syrup (1:1)
12.5ml Fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Allspice or pimento aromatic bitters
12.5ml Egg white
Shake and strain into a coupette. Garnish with lemon zest.

GarrigueFor Karim Mehdi, this was sixth time lucky as he has been a finalist in Ireland’s Bacardi Legacy competition five times before but never got through to the global final. In an emotional presentation, he talked about how his drink is named after and inspired by the hardy “garrigue” scrubland that is common around the Mediterranean which he knows from his own childhood but which Don Facundo would have also known from his early years in Sitges in Spain.

Garrigue by Karim Mehdi
50ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
20ml Lemon juice
15ml Yellow Chartreuse
15ml Orgeat syrup
Pinch of sea salt
Shake hard with cubed ice and fine strain into a coupette. Garnish with lemon zest and dried lavender.

Pan Am CocktailBarney Toy has reached the grand final representing New Zealand but his Yorkshire accent gives away his roots in Sheffield. He has worked in several bars in Auckland, recently moving from Revelry to Society & Nook. Wearing a pilot’s cap, he explained that his cocktail, The Pan Am Cocktail, was inspired by the glamorous Pan American Airways flights between Florida and Cuba during US Prohibition in the 1920s and early 1930s.

The Pan Am Cocktail by Barney Toy
45ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
15ml Aperol
15ml Orgeat syrup
30ml Fresh Meyer lemon juice
15ml Egg white
Add everything to the shaker, adding egg white last. Dry shake to emulsify and then hard shake with ice and fine strain into a chilled Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with two to three sprays of atomised Angostura Bitters.

The drinks rounds were presented in front of an audience of bartenders and media by Dickie Collimore, who has taken over from David Cordoba as global brand ambassador for Bacardi, and Richard Neil Irwin, another Bacardi Company brand ambassador.

The drinks were judged by a panel made up of David Cordoba, award-winning bartender Shingo Gokan of Speak Low in Shanghai, world-renowned flair bartender Nicolas St Jean, Bacardi Legacy’s 2013 global winner Elizaveta Evdokimova from Delicatessen in Russia, and Sven Almenning, owner of bars in Sydney and Melbourne including Eau de Vie.

There was also a panel judging the bartenders’ promotional activities for their cocktails, including Enrique Comas, a member of the Bacardi family and its global brand manager, Bacardi’s global brand director Caroline Hipperson, and David Spanton of Australian Bartender magazine.

Young CubanAlly Martin celebrated the support of the bartending community in his presentation to the drinks panel, comparing it to how Don Facundo set up Bacardi with “support of his friends, his family and his community”. He explained: “The support that he received over his career reminds me of our industry and the way that we as bartenders turn to each other for help.”

His drink, Young Cuban, was partly inspired by the success of the modern classic, the Old Cuban, created by American bartender Audrey Saunders, but seeks to honour bartenders going back to legends such as Jerry Thomas in the 19th century and Harry Craddock, author of the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. “There is no other industry where members support each other more than we do,” he said.

Young Cuban by Ally Martin
50ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
20ml Lemon juice
15ml Orgeat
10ml Fino sherry
Garnish: 4 sprigs of dill
Shake all the ingredients with ice, then double strain over fresh ice into a Collins glass. Garnish with the sprigs of dill.

In the semi-finals, the first bartender to present his drink was Algirdas Mulevicius from Trinity Bar in Vilnius, representing Lithuania. His cocktail, Doremi, was inspired by his love of music, taking its name from the first three notes of the musical scale.

Doremi by Algirdas Mulevicius
50ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
15ml St-Germain elderflower liqueur
15ml Cinnamon syrup
10ml Fresh lemon juice
Half an egg white
Becherovka spray
Shake the first six ingredients together well. Fine strain it into a coupette that has been sprayed with becherovka. Dust with cinnamon

Representing the USA, Ran Duan heads The Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden restaurant in Woburn, Massachusetts. The inspiration for his drink, Father’s Advice, came from family – both his own, who run the restaurant and support each other throughout life, and the Bacardi family who built up a business despite many challenges over the years. Ran also spoke about the support he received not must from family but from friends and strangers around the world when, last year, The Baldwin Bar faced threats of a lawsuit from a Harvard professor over $4.

Father’s Advice by Ran Duan
45ml Bacardi Carta Oro
15ml Punt e Mes
15ml Cardamaro
15ml Amontillado sherry
7.5ml Crème de banana
Combine all ingredients and stir for 45 seconds. Pour into a coupette and garnish with an orange swath.

Another American, Eric Ballard, represented United Arab Emirates as a bartender at Provocateur bar at the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach. His cocktail, El Vestido, took inspiration from classic cocktails such as the Knickerbocker and Clover Club in its use of raspberries, which also remind him of his childhood picking the fruit with his father in California.

El Vestido by Eric Ballard
45ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
7.5ml Tio Pepe fino sherry
22.5ml Raspberry syrup
22.5ml Lime juice
12.5ml Egg white
6-8 Mint leaves
Dry Shake, then add mint to mixing glass. Shake and fine strain into a coupette. Garnish with a mint sprig and raspberries.

He was followed on stage by Emil Åreng of Open/Closed bar in Umeå in Sweden, whose Pepin Cocktail is named after the legendary president of Bacardi from the 1940s to 1976. The ingredients represent flavours from the countries where Jose “Pepin” Bosch built new distilleries after the family were forced out by the Cuban revolution, such as lime from Brazil and maple syrup from Canada.

Pepin Cocktail by Emil Åreng
60ml Bacardi Carta Oro rum
20ml Maple syrup
20ml Lime juice
Corn foam
Shake and strain into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Top with corn foam.

Regeri Zoo from Meat Market Cocktail Bar in Tartu was up next, representing Estonia. His drink, Four Seasons, uses ingredients with seasonal, healthy flavours such as sea buckthorn for autumn, ginger root for winter, fresh lemongrass for spring and ripe limes for summer. “Without Bacardi, it would be a god-damned salad,” he joked.

Four Seasons by Regeri Zoo
40ml Bacardi Carta Oro
20ml Sea buckthorn fresh juice
20ml Lemongrass syrup
10ml Fresh lime juice
2 pieces Lemon peel
Ginger root
Shake and double strain into a coupette. Garnish with a dried grapefruit slice, sea buckthorn seeds, lemon peel and lime peel.

The final’s host country was represented by Alissa Gabriel of The Manhattan Line in Brisbane. Like other competitors, she was inspired by Bacardi’s heritage but her cocktail, Bouteiller, is named after José León Bouteiller, the Frenchman who co-founded the business with Don Facundo.

Bouteiller by Alissa Gabriel
45ml Bacardi Carta Oro
10ml Dry vermouth
10ml Falernum
2 Dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
Green Chartreuse mist
Add all the ingredients except the Green Chartreuse to a mixing glass and stir until chilled. Strain into a crystal rocks glass that has been misted with Green Chartreuse, over block ice. Garnish with a lime twist.

Representing Russia was Dmitriy Chupyra who works at Ruby Wine Bar in Novosibirsk in the region of Siberia. His drink took the idea of a pearl that takes many years to form out of natural ingredients just like Bacardi rum.

Family Pearl by Dmitriy Chupyra
60ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
10ml Lime juice
15ml Salted caramel
60g Pineapple
Half a bar spoon Allspice
Muddle the allspice with the pineapple. Add the other ingredients, top with ice and shake well. Fine strain into a coupette. Garnish with lime pastille and allspice.

Norway was represented by Mathias Bengt Alsenalissa of Brooms & Hatchets at First Hotel Grims Grenka in Oslo. His drink, Turning Leaves, not only uses oregano leaves but symbolises that leaves that have been turned over throughout the Bacardi Company’s history, from its victories over many challenges in its past to its present-day growth including the acquisition of St-Germain elderflower liqueur two years ago.

Turning Leaves by Mathias Bengt Alsenalissa
50ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
20ml Lemon juice
12ml St-Germain elderflower liqueur
15ml Sugar syrup
10-20 leaves of fresh oregano
1 slice of cucumber (3mm thick)
Muddle the oregano and cucumber, add the rest of the ingredients, shake with ice and double strain into a sherry goblet or coupette. Garnish with an oregano flower.

Representing Austria, Kenny Klein is from Maniac Bar Artists, a cocktail catering company based in Bad Ischl. He was inspired by “the second golden age of cocktails” for his drink, The Golden Moment.

The Golden Moment by Kenny Klein
50ml Bacardi Carta Oro
25ml Pedro Ximénez sherry
15ml Cola syrup
15ml Fresh grapefruit juice
1 dash Chocolate bitters
Stir and strain into a nosing glass. Garnish with dark chocolate, dried fruits and grapefruit dust made from dried grapefruit peel.

Canada was represented by Mike Shum from the bar at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in Vancouver. His drink, Chan Chan, takes its name and inspiration from one of the most popular songs of iconic Cuban band Bueno Vista Social Club – which played as background to his slick presentation. He describes it as a “traditionally-inspired cocktail which is complex, delicious and timeless, representing Cuban nightlife, cocktail culture and music”.

Chan Chan by Mike Shum
45ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
10ml Martini Dry vermouth
10ml St-Germain elderflower liqueur
15ml Lime juice
10ml Simple syrup (1:1)
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Shake and double strain into a coupette. Garnish with an edible flower.

Representing Finland, Mauricio Allende of Grotesk Bar in Helsinki set out to re-invent one of the existing Bacardi legacy cocktails, the Mojito, with his drink, Ron-Con-Ton. He has given it a new lift by adding fresh basil and basil syrup instead of mint plus tonic.

Ron-Con-Ton by Mauricio Allende
50ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
30ml Lime juice
20ml Basil syrup
6-8 leaves of fresh basil
Top with tonic water
Build the drink in a highball glass, top with tonic and garnish with a basil leaf.

Federico Tomasselli from Barnum Café in Rome represented Italy with his drink combining the Cuban rum with Italian liqueur Frangelico.

Cuban Saint by Federico Tomasselli
60ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
20ml Lime juice
5 drops Absinthe
2 barspoons Frangelico
1.5 barspoons Caster sugar
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Rim the glass with pimento and sugar.

Representing Poland, Karim Bibars of Pergamin Bar in Krakow talked of how “every bartender dreams of having his cocktail next to the Daiquiri” and other classics. His drink is a type of Smash, using fresh basil which is often used in Cuban cuisine, and is designed as a tribute to the “maestros de ron” who select the rums for Bacardi. “We bartenders as craftsmen pay tribute to them by creating cocktails worthy of their legacy,” Karim added.

Maestro Smash by Karim Bibars
45ml Bacardi Carta Oro
15ml Maraschino liqueur
10ml Muscovado syrup (2:1)
Handful of basil leaves
Half a lime
Muddle lime and basil, add remaining ingredients, shake and fine strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a dried lime wheel and basil leaves.

Navneet Kumar talked of the tenacity and determination he needed to make it as a bartender coming from a small town in India where alcohol was seen as socially unacceptable and bartending was not seen as a respectable career. He said this made him feel inspired by the spirit of the Bacardi family who built up a business in Santiago de Cuba against all the odds. Representing India, he now works at ITC Grand Bharat in Manesar, south-west of New Delhi.

Espiritu de Santiago by Navneet Kumar
50ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
15ml Yellow Chartreuse
15ml Coconut syrup
30ml Lime juice
4 sage leaves
Shake and strain into a coupette. Garnish with sage leaves.

Jaime Añon of Terraza Sojo Palace in Córdoba represented Spain with his cocktail, Victoria Indomable, which was inspired by the Bacardi family’s victories over adversity throughout their history.

Victoria Indomable by Jaime Añon
75ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
20ml Cigar syrup
20ml Seville orange marmalade
25ml Fresh lime juice
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and add 3 drops of chocolate bitters. Garnish with an orange twist and a red cocktail cherry.

Representing Switzerland, Simon Brandmeyer looked back to the history of Cuba which was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492 when he was looking for “Cipango”, or “the island of gold”, that earlier explorer Marco Polo had mentioned in his travel book Il Milione – thought to refer to Japan. Simon, who works at Onyx Bar in Zürich, took this story and created a drink, called Cipango, which adds an Asian touch to a Cuban cocktail.

Cipango by Simon Brandmeyer
55ml Bacardi Carta Oro
25ml Fresh lime juice
20ml Jasmin tea syrup
7ml Campari
15ml Egg white
Grapefruit zest
Shake and double strain into a martini goblet. Garnish with grapefruit zest.

Jürgen Wiese from Goldene Bar in Munich represented Germany, creating a drink called The Meadow which is a translation of his surname. “The base of my cocktail is raw ingredients supplied naturally from the meadows that surround us,” he explained.

The Meadow by Jürgen Wiese
50ml Bacardi Carta Oro
25ml Antica Formula vermouth
10ml Camomile syrup
8 drops Peychaud’s Bitters
Orange dust
Stir on ice in a mixing glass and pour into a coupette. Garnish with orange zest.

The iconic women of the 1920s, such as film stars Mary Pickford and Greta Garbo, were the inspiration for Ezequiel Rodríguez from Victoria Brown Bar in Buenos Aires. Representing Argentina, he created the Perfume Daiquiri as a tribute to the women who famously attended the parties held by the Bacardi family in Havana.

Perfume Daiquiri by Ezequiel Rodríguez
50ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
25ml St-Germain elderflower liqueur
25ml Lemon juice
5ml Honey
4 dashes Angostura Bitters
4 leaves Fresh mint leaves
Place all ingredients in a shaker and stir to incorporate the honey. Add ice and shake vigorously and double strain into a coupette. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Representing Hong Kong, Devender Sehgal from Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong called his cocktail The Optimist as it described the quality needed for the Bacardi family to continue in business in the face of adversity. “This drink is a message that reaches out people, that whatever happens in your life, whatever difficulties, to achieve what you want in life, you have got to be an optimist,” he explained.

The Optimist by Devender Sehgal
60ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
20ml Lime juice
10ml Homemade ginger syrup
10ml Homemade honey syrup
Handful of basil leaves
Yellow Chartreuse rinse
Shake the first five ingredients and double strain into a cocktail glass rinsed with Yellow Chartreuse. Garnish with a thin slice of cucumber.

For Denmark, Jonas B Andersen of Strøm Bar in Copenhagen turned to an ingredient that he has researched called celery tonic. His drink, Harlequin, uses fresh celery and soda water balanced with other bold ingredients – in much the same way as a colourfully dressed harlequin clown.

Harlequin by Jonas B Andersen
55ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
15ml Martini Bianco
15ml Fresh lime
15ml Agave syrup
25ml Soda water
3 chunks of fresh celery (2cm each)
Add the lime, celery and syrup to the base of the shaker and muddle together. Add the Bacardi and Martini and shake hard and short before fine straining into a highball glass. Add cubed ice. Top with soda water. Garnish with a lime wheel, a celery sprig and dark red grapes.

Lizaveta Molyavka from New Project in Minsk was representing Belarus – one of the nations involved in the Bacardi Legacy competition for the first time this year. In 1920s-inspired hair and make-up, she presented her drink, Blush, which harks back to the classic style of early Bacardi drinks but adds a modern twist. She used cranberry which is a traditional Belarusian ingredient used in jams, pies, sweets and drinks.

Blush by Lizaveta Molyavka
50ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
15ml Aperol
15ml Lime juice
25g Cranberry puree
Shake and double strain into an aperitif-style glass. Garnish with dried cranberry.

Bacardi’s French co-founder, José León Bouteiller, was the inspiration for the drink, French Governor, from Omer Gazit Shalev of 223 Cocktail Bar in Tel Aviv, representing Israel. He speculated that if Bouteiller had not sold his share of the business to the Bacardi family, he may have become governor of Santiago like Emilio Bacardi later did. It uses the French ingredient of champagne to create a classic-style aperitif.

French Governor by Omer Gazit Shalev
30ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
10ml Lime juice
10ml Pear juice
10ml Tarragon syrup
75ml Brut Champagne
Shake all the ingredients except the champagne and double strain into a champagne flute. Top with the champagne. Garnish with a lemon “flag” twist and pear fan.

Juris Ķēniņš from Mute in Riga represented Latvia with a drink, Belgium Avenue, which takes its name from the old name of the road where the iconic Bacardi Building stands in Santiago de Cuba. In his presentation, he spoke of his love of architecture and the Art Deco style of the building, reflected in the attention to detail and art of his drinks. Even the garnish of his cocktail is pineapple leaves cut “in an Art Deco style”.

Belgium Avenue by Juris Ķēniņš
40ml Bacardi Carta Oro
20ml Freshly squeezed pineapple juice
15ml Lillet Blanc
15ml Fresh lemon juice
15ml Agave and camomile syrup
10ml Yellow Chartreuse
Shake and double strain into an Art Deco wine glass.

Another country new to Bacardi Legacy this year was the Czech Republic, represented by national winner Miloš Danihelka of L’Fleur in Prague. His cocktail, Orgullo, takes its name from the Spanish for pride, referring to the achievements of the Bacardi family, and uses ingredients inspired by their history. The sherry references Don Facundo’s roots in Spain as a trader in wine and sherry, while the absinthe recalls co-founder José León Bouteiller from France.

Orgullo by Miloš Danihelka
50ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
15ml Mandarine Napoléon liqueur
10ml Gutierrez Colosia sherry
5ml White chocolate syrup
30ml Mandarin reduction with fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Absinthe
Shake and fine strain into a coupette.

Alberto Riesler, the 34th and final competitor to take the stage to present his drinks at the semi-final, represented Mexico, where he works at Grupo Fisher’s in Mexico City. His cocktail, La Familia, took the simple inspiration of Bacardi’s core value of family. The popcorn and chocolate in the garnish “represent those special moments and gatherings between family, friends and loved ones,” he added.

La Familia by Albert Riesler
45ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
30ml Sherry
30ml Orange juice
2 bar spoons Martini Rosso
Shake and double strain into a Leopold coupette. Garnish with a chocolate bar and fresh popcorn.

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