Cocktails offer taste, looks and choice. They first first made an appearance in the 1800s, going on to gather steam in the 1920s. Cocktails became hugely popular in the US during the prohibition years as a means of disguising alcohol from police during raids. Creative bartenders in the famous Speakeasy Bars prepared drinks using whatever alcohol they could get their hands on.
The restrictions inspired US travel agents into starting "wet weekends" to Cuba where people were allowed to drink freely and the world famous Cuba Libra was born. Not to be outdone, Europe was creating all-time classic drinks like the Bloody Mary and Side Car. With the repeal of prohibition in 1933, the very creative barmen of speakeasies found themselves in huge demand and many were offered prestigious jobs in the world's top hotels and bars where drinks like Martinis, Gin Fizz, Americano, Tom Collins and Manhattans were created.
Yet today, while bartenders are constantly searching for new and different taste sensations, it is the classic recipes that are still favourites. Over the past five months, contenders from the most prestigious bars in India have been competing in regional heats, each aiming at a place in the coveted Global Finals. The winner will be crowned The Best Bartender in the World, sponsored by Diageo. This year, Diageo Reserve Brands are taking the World Class to international waters. The brand has chartered a 30,000 tonne luxury cruise liner for the global final.
World Class, an international training programme, founded by Diageo Reserve Brands, is a celebration of flair and creativity in bartending. This platform fosters precision, dramatics and skills among bartenders to enable them to transcend boundaries of innovation and create new global trends in the liquid world.
In the India final, Mumbai’s Varun Sudhakar from AER Lounge was crowned India’s Best Bartender on 31st May. Six talented and competent bartenders were selected as finalists in front of a panel of judges—Shivam Misra, Commercial Director, Diageo India, Colin Chia, Regional Head, World Class, Asia Pacific, Lam ChinMun, Director, Diageo Bar Academy, Asia Pacific and Yours Truly.
The bartenders were also introduced to the latest mixology trends emerging in bars all over the world like:
Bar Chef: Cocktails inspired by chefs and cookery. Unconventional ingredients, quality control, service practices and forward thinking techniques are the traits.
Retro-Chic: Inspired by old school glamour, classic movies, elegant style, these are cocktails consumed by stars and created for films.
Congratulating the winner, Misra said, “World Class is a celebration of bartending excellence, a trait that is exemplified in the India winner. Varun Sudhakar demonstrates creativity, flair and skill in his creations and I look forward to working closely with him to prepare for the global finals in some of most glamorous locations in the world.”
The winner, Varun Sudhakar, added, “I am honoured and humbled to have won the most prestigious and vied-for accolade in the Indian bartending industry and thank Diageo for presenting this excellent platform that has allowed me to showcase my skill. I look forward to meeting some of the world’s finest bartenders at the global finals and get the trophy back to India. I also hope that my story will motivate other bartenders to participate in World Class next year”.