Russ Ward (pictured) from Sheffield has been named the UK Bartender Champion at TGI Fridays for the fourth year running.
The 33-year-old beat seven other bartenders in the grand final of the 2015 TGI Fridays UK Bartender Championship and will represent the UK again at the global final in the US next year.
The UK final, which took place in Liverpool’s Rum Warehouse in front of a crowd of thousands, was the culmination of months of rounds involving bartenders at TGI Fridays sites around the country.
Tests included demonstrating the ability to free-pour perfect measures every time – without being even a millilitre out. They also had to prove they knew every single one of the 700-plus cocktails available at TGI Fridays, making a selection of 30 to perfection.
In his performance, Russ distinguished himself with his timing and skill and won over the crowd with a number of signature moves, including an impressive bottle pour from his elbow. He also incorporated the new Fridays Meet Your Match food menu into his routine, pulling out a giant poster of the Warrior burger for the judges as he flaired.
Russ said: “To win this for the fourth year running is truly amazing. I love performing at TGI Fridays Bar Champs, and all the hard work has paid off. Even after competing for nine years, the pressure is still immense as the competition is so fierce.
“I love every single minute of the competition – even when practising four to five hours a day in the run-up the UK final. I always put fun at the heart of my performance, and that’s what Fridays is all about.”
The TGI Fridays World Bartender Championships features winners selected from 8,000 bartenders working for TGI Fridays in 60 countries across the globe.