The chosen venue for this years IBA Congress and the World Cocktail Championship was the Hilton Hotel in Warsaw, capital city of Poland. President of the Polish Bartenders Association, Richard Berent and his superb team were on hand at the airport to make sure everyone got transport to the hotel, always very welcome when you arrive in a strange city.

Checking into the city’s Hilton Hotel it was great to meet old friends and make many new ones from all over the world, and partake of the odd libation or three in the bar, before a quick dash to the room to get changed for dinner. Dinner on the first night is always a relaxed affair as people are arriving all the time, according to their travel schedules. For some strange reason we were paired with the Irish team, which is never a good idea because they always lead us astray and 2011 was no exception.

Presidents and delegates attend the AGM on the second day, while the other party members get the opportunity to take a guided tour of the city with its magnificent Medieval ‘Old Town’.

We were disappointed to be unsuccessful in our bid to bring the 2013 Congress to Glasgow as were the South African Guild who had pitched for Cape Town but Prague will make a wonderful setting, particularly as the proposed date is in August. The chosen destination for next year is Bejing (Peking) from 7-12th October so to guarantee your attendance make sure you enter the National Cocktail Competition. You have to be in it to win it !

The next two days are taken up with the WCCs and with five different styles of Cocktail Competitions plus the World Flairing Championship it makes for busy days, starting at 9.30 and going on until 6.00/6.30. And what a fantastic show it proved to be. Richards back room team were fantastic, having everything to hand when required, the associated companies had hospitality stands set up all round the rum (Freudian Slip) room, Bjorn Olsson of Sweden, doing his usual impression of a hamster on speed, at the microphone and over 300 screaming spectators shouting for their guy/girl. It was absolute bedlam. And great fun !

Taking part in his first WCC Bruno de Nascimento was a great ambassador for the UKBG and although not a winner he learned a lot and I’m certain he will make good use of the experience next time round.

In the ‘Flairing’, Tom’Dangerous’ Dyer looked a certain winner, his routine was mesmerising and I think President Daniel Crebesse was rehearsing a victory speech, but unfortunately Tom was just pipped at the post and had to be satisfied with second spot, giving Daniel time to polish his speech for next year.

Last full day and an opportunity to do some sightseeing and there were some sights to be seen. A certain Area Chairman who looked decidedly fragile, although he said it was flu as well as another party member who insisted on dragging us into a coffee shop, A COFFEE SHOP ? Names have been left out to protect the guilty.

The Gala Dinner that evening was superb, wonderful food, first class wine, great company but unfortunately as is always the case, speeches and presentations which are a necessary evil at such events. All too soon, 1.00am, it was time to pass the flag to the delegates from Bejing and the event was over for another year.

A nightcap at the bar before heading to bed for some, but due to a mixup in flight bookings an unfortunate Area Chairman had a 4.40am flight home which meant leaving the hotel at 2.30am. I wonder if he has arrived home yet ?

Remember, Bejing next year, get your entry in early, when details of the NCC are announced.

My thanks to Daniel, Luca, Bruno, Tom, John and Chris for their excellent company and not forgetting Vicky Wright and Bacardi Brown Forman for their participation and co-operation.

Joe King