BENGALURU: With so many bartenders across the globe, cocktails are becoming more premium yet simplistic,” says South Africa-born Richard Neil Irwin, adding that our drinks have evolved in a way that they are more exuberant now, sometimes even having 15 ingredients in one glass. “At times, simple designs are the most striking,” adds Irwin, who was one of the judges at this year’s Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition (BLCC) – India Finale, where eight top bartenders from the country battled it out on Tuesday and the winner, Vineeth Krishnan from Koko Asian Gastropub Mumbai, will be competing on a global level in Miami, USA.
From working as a junior bartender to becoming a prominent figure in the Bacardi scene, Irwin is deeply involved in many of the biggest bar shows in the world. The competition in Miami, which will take place sometime in the first week of May, will be the 10th Bacardi Legacy competition that he will be attending.
Ask him what he thinks of the pub culture in India and the brand ambassador of Bacardi for Asia, Middle, East and Africa says, “Bartenders here use a lot of local ingredients, which is good.
There is a diverse food pattern in the country, and I think we see that in cocktails too,” says Dubai-based Irwin, who loves “eating biryani served on banana leaves” in Bengaluru.According to him, he has seen incredibly emotional and capturing stories at the BLCC over the years. “A lot of bartenders from all over the world choose their ingredients and build drinks on an idea or something that has happened in life. Some of these revolve around real stories, so we have seen bartenders breaking down on stage while presenting their cocktail,” says Irwin, whose go-to drink is “whatever he has in his glass at that time’.
Irwin feels that in the past 10 years, there has also been passionate and talented women all over the world showcasing their skills in the bartending industry. “I have seen tough competitions among women on stage who have wowed us, and I believe we will be seeing more of them in the cocktail world,” he says.