Here I’m back from Singapore, trying to get rid of the jet lag and the hundred gallons of Tiger beer me and Luca drank.
The whole journey was a unique experience, from the beginning, arriving at the Singapore airport, where you are welcomed by the I.B.A. organizers, to the last minute of departure. You are not anymore just a bartender, you are representing one country, and you have that in your shoulder the all time. I never felt so proud.
Unfortunately for me and for all of us, I did not make it to the final. My biggest disappointment was not the 3 weeks of preparation for the cocktail, it wasn’t the amount of simulation I done training at home, and not even the attention I put making sure every little detail was covered, it is the many people I had let down as they all had great expectations on me.
Anyway what does not kill you make you stronger, they say. So I want to share with you this experience and hopefully it will help the next candidates, who will compete in the following years. Let start first with the work technique, if you think you had reached a good level of work when you are at the world final you realize you are miles away, there is so much you can learn watching the other competitors, in particular I was impressed by Russia, Taiwan and Greece.
After what I saw in Asia I understand that when you are there you need to make a choice, you want to win the technique prize or the competition with the cocktail, as the points earned are going in separate categories. The tasting judging will not know if you are going overtime, as we saw the Austrian competitor going 3 minutes overtime and win the competition, so I guess you will only concentrate in making a good drink, no matter if you make mistakes on stage (unless your ambition is to win the prize for best technique, or both).
About the quality of the cocktail I had the impression that as UK bartender we are a few steps ahead in terms of working with flavours. I took part in many competitions, U.K.B.G. and non, and I’ve always been impressed with the standards of the drinks, as UK bartenders try to find the ultimate taste, creating a whole journey of flavours in the sip of the drink.
This did not work in the I.B.A. final, as I could see the winning drinks, great cocktails yes, don’t get me wrong, were a bit more “simple”, using flavours like chocolate, cherry, vanilla, melon. So at the end sweeter drinks.
I’m not in the position to teach anything to anybody, I’m just saying that If I could go back knowing what I saw I would create a martini style drink using a double martini glass, with a live shiny colour, and strong sweet taste when the floating cream seems to be a big highlight.
For me I found funny the fact that my drink was considered amazing in the UK (said from the people that helped me create the recipe) and in the world final they just did not like it at all. So this can be a good learning point for the next candidate and me.
So in conclusion if I will be lucky enough to take part again in this life time experience, I will be ready with a big can of whipped cream.