Following is Chris Underwood’s report on his first IBA

The 58th IBA meeting, held in Berlin for the first time, provided an opportunity for over 800 delegates from 52 countries to get together to celebrate bartending. Last year’s winning cocktail was served at the opening function, at which members and guests had the chance to reunite with friends. Afterwards, the UKBG team went on a bar hop, stopping at Lebenssten, which had an impressive collection of 1300 different spirits! The next stop was Rum Trader, the smallest bar in Berlin, with its collection of vintage rum and an historic licence (won in Court) that allows the customers to smoke inside.

We started the next day with a jazz brunch, followed by the German National Championship, which was our first chance to check out the organisation and view the competition for the later in the week. We visited more bars that night — even found the beach bar open air party and there is no doubt we dance a lot better that our German friends.

The third day was spent seeing the sights of Berlin by coach and riverboat, learning of the city’s legacy, and how it was rebuilt after the Second World War. That night was the celebration of the 100th birthday of the D.B.U. (the German Association), the oldest in the world, with the development of bartending in Germany told in film and dance.

Sunday was a rest day; more sightseeing and more bars at the Hotel Aldon and Hotel du Rhone. (Yes their Martinis, Manhattans and Gin Fizzes were up there with the best.)

Monday. The World Flair Competition’s atmosphere was electric. Gianluigi made it to the final (see his story). Absolute vodka sponsored the dinner that night. Works of art and photography entertained us before the main act, a band called Wolfmother. They rocked the foundations and, in true bartender style, we danced around bottles of vodka!!

Tuesday. The World Classic Cocktail Championship consisted of 13 rounds of four, with the winner from each round taking part in the night final. During the Classic finals the Flair finals were also happening. Gianluigi did brilliantly while the entire UK team were yelling at him in support. Thanks for the bruises, Michael — never stand in front of him when he gets excited!

We had to wait 30 minutes for the results so we quickly changed for dinner. I watched the results on the TV screens with president Daniel Crebesse who got nervous as we waited to hear the winner’s name. When we heard ‘Gianluigi’ we took off (it was the fastest 100 meters I had run in a long time) to celebrate his victory.

That night’s dinner was our last event. A speech by the Derrick Lee, IBA President announced that next year’s competition will take place in November in Singapore.

I would like to extend a huge thank-you to the German Bartending Union for the great organisation. Also, thanks to the Hotel, whose staff were fantastic.

A big thanks, too, to the UKBG for giving me this amazing experience at my first IBA event. Finally, well done to Orlando Garcia and to Gianluigi Bosco who both represented the UKBG with professionalism and honour.

They will defend their National titles — could you beat them?

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