Gary Burdekin from Derby was crowned TGI Fridays UK Bartender Champion 2018 at a tense Grand Final held in Birmingham on 6 November.
The TGI Fridays bartender was awarded with a £2,000 cash prize as well as the coveted propeller trophy which symbolises how the bar is the ‘engine’ of every TGI Fridays.
On his road to the final, where he competed alongside five top UK bartenders, Gary impressed the judges with his cocktail skills and personality-filled performances.
All six bartenders had to demonstrate the ability to free-pour perfect measures every time and had to ensure he knew every single one of the 500-plus cocktails available at Fridays, being tested on the recipe of 85 of these and having to create nine of them.
In his performance, Gary distinguished himself from the other finalists with his timing and skill, winning over the crowd and judges with a number of signature moves, pouring behind his head and back, and juggling several bottles at a time effortlessly.
Gary now moves on to the final stage of the competition where he will represent the whole of the UK and challenge the world’s best bartenders in the TGI Fridays World Bartender Championships.
The event takes place in the US early next year and is entered by 8,000 bartenders from 60 countries across the globe, with a prize of $10,000 for the winner.
Gary said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been crowned the UK bartender champion for 2018. Doing my performance in front of such a big crowd was so nerve-wracking, but I am pleased I didn’t let it get to me.
“With the world finals in just a few months there will be no let up – I’ll be practicing for three or four hours a day, perfecting my routine so that come February I can do Britain proud in the World Final.”