Countdown to Lucas Bols global challenge

The seventh annual Bols Around the World Competition is to be launched next month, seeking to find the world’s most talented and inspiring bartender.

Contenders from 60 countries including the UK are invited to compete in heats over six months for one of 20 spots in the semi-finals in Amsterdam on May 6. Twelve finalists will go on to compete the following day in Amsterdam in the grand final.

It goes live on December 1, with details at

Bartenders will be asked to create a cocktail recipe using Bols Genever, Bols liqueur, or both, for a chance to win a trip around the world to four cocktail cities of his or her choice over eight days.

The overall winner will also be awarded a Platinum Bols Ambassadorship, including two all-expenses-paid trips to Amsterdam for intensive training.

Eleven finalists will receive a one-year Gold Bols Ambassadorship, including a trip to Amsterdam for intensive Bols Ambassador training and an honorary contract to represent Bols in their own home country across a range of seminars, trade shows and courses.

Together with the winner, they will be profiled on the competition’s global website and receive a Bols Around the World National Champion trophy and a limited-edition Bols Barrel Aged Genever, signed by Lucas Bols’ master distiller Piet Leijenhorst.

In 2012, Gábor Onufer from Boutiq’Bar in Budapest, Hungary, was crowned Bols Bartending World Champion from a field of 1,600 bartenders for his cocktail The Merchant (see below) and his Pass the Dutchie food pairing recipe.

Gábor is pictured centre with the judges after winning the Amsterdam grand final. Last year’s UK representative at the grand final was Danil Nevsky of Society Bar & Restaurant in Aberdeen.

One spot in the finals will be reserved for a member of the Young Talent Program, which gives bartenders aged 22 and under the chance to compete with the world’s best bartenders. To help them reach this level of expertise, they will receive coaching from the Bols Bartending Academy throughout the competition.

Four of the Young Talent bartenders will then compete in Amsterdam against each other to win one place in the grand final against the 11 other finalists.

Sandie van Doorne, Lucas Bols creative and communications director, said: “Now in its seventh year and running across 60 countries, Bols Around the World is the widest-reaching bartending contest in the world and this year’s grand final is set to be more spectacular than ever.

“The competition celebrates the best in bartending technique and reflects the values taught at the Bols Bartending Academy, from drink knowledge and mixology to hospitality, speed and efficiency. Contestants receive training from the Bols Bartending Academy throughout the competition to foster the innovation and excellence that Lucas Bols stands for.”

The competition begins with three heats including a cocktail round, theoretical test and video. The first heat will test the bartenders’ mastery of flavour, asking them to upload a cocktail recipe with a minimum of 1/2oz of Bols liqueurs and/or 1oz of Bols Genever, which will be judged for harmony and balance.

The best bartenders per country will move on to the second heat to complete a 40-question online exam on the fundamentals of bartending, from the history of distilling to influential cocktail personalities and coffee.

Those with the highest scores go to the third heat, where they will need to create a video of themselves, up to 60 seconds long, presenting their cocktail. The films will challenge bartenders to display their technique, passion for bartending, and style of service. This will lead to the selection of 16 professional bartenders and four young talents for the semi-finals.

The semi-finals and grand final will take place during a trip to Amsterdam from May 2 to 7, hosted by Bols Bartending Academy trainers Rob Rademaker, Malika Saidi and Ruben Maduro. Participants will be put through their paces at interviews with the global judging panel and assessed not only on their cocktail recipe, but also on food pairing, presentation skills, commercial and marketing insight, understanding and passion for bartending and overall ability to entertain.

The grand final, at an undisclosed location in Amsterdam on May 7, will be judged by experienced figures from the world of drinks and cocktails: Ago Perrone, head mixologist at London’s Connaught Bar and global brand ambassador for Galliano; drinks experts and cocktail historians Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown of publisher Mixellany; Hidetsugu Ueno, owner and bartender of Bar High Five in Tokyo; Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, global tiki expert and co-owner of Faux Tropical Bar School; and Gábor Onufer, the 2012 Bols Bartending World Champion.

The Merchant by Gábor Onufer

45ml Bols Genever
20ml Bols Apricot Brandy
15ml Fresh strained lemon juice
5ml Pedro Ximénez sherry
1 barspoon of simple syrup
1 dash of orange bitters

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass, stir and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with an orange zest.

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