‘The Nation’s Finest’
It’s been a long road, getting here! The fifteen competitors that make up our National Cocktail Competition grand finalists, hail from all four corners of the world and represent some of the most impressive talent within the UK hospitality industry.
As such, it’s only proper that we celebrate each and every one of them, before they compete at the national grand final on January 18th 2022 at the Prince Akatoki Hotel, London. You can join us live on the day via Facebook or Instagram!
Ryan Lapag Latumbo – Maritime Division – The Queen Elizabeth, Cunard
I was lucky to experience working on three of Cunard’s ships – the Queen Victoria, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth, where I’m presently working. I started as Bar Utility in 2007 at the age of 25 years old.
The first ship I joined was the Queen Victoria and I was honored to have been one of the pioneer crew. I was very grateful to have my hard work noticed with a White Star Crew of the Month in 2009 – and I even managed to win Champion in Singing twice, while on board! My manager gave me a chance to move forward and promoted me to Bar Waiter in 2012
In 2019 I got my promotion as a permanent bartender on board Queen Elizabeth. I have a passion for mixing drinks and I am grateful for the support and acknowledgement of my management.
Horace Buckenham – Southern Division – Bank Bristol
I’ve been bartending about 7 years now, the last 3 of which have been in Bristol. This is my first time entering the UKBG National Cocktail Competition, but I have entered a few over the years. I reached the final of Funkin Innovation Champion in 2018, finished top 5 in the Corte Vetusto – A Cut Above in 2020 and most recently won Britain’s Best Mezcal Cocktail Competition with Hacha in September 2021. I joined Bank in June 2021, was part of the opening team and am currently the Head Bartender. Previously I’ve worked with New World Trading Company, Hotel Du Vin and Gravetye Manor, where our menu reached the finals of Imbibe Drinks List of the Year for Avant Garde Cocktail Menu in 2018. I have also passed my WSET Level 3 in Spirits this year with a Distinction overall.
Matteo Basso – Southern Division – The Malt
Since I was 10 years old, I’ve always pictured myself behind a bar. I started my career back in Italy, when I was very young, taking my first steps in the industry as a waiter in a luxury restaurant, and worked my way to become a bartender. I moved to London with the hope of improving my skills, and learning different styles and cultures- there’s no better option than this city. I worked in very different environments here in London: like Amazonico with their tropical style of drinks; The Gibson where savoury flavours are the undisputed stars; and, last but not least, the Malt, a whiskey bar with a strong focus on Japanese culture and ingredients. I love what I do and I really believe that is one of the best jobs. I want to own my bar, and I push every day to make this dream become real.
Gabor Molnar – Southern Division – The Pig on the Beach Hotel
I’ve had 10 years in hospitality. I started back in Hungary as a bar back, and in 2015 moved to London to develop my career. Worked at Boisdale and Quaglino`s, etc before moving out of London and becoming a bar manager at The Pig in Brockenhurst, for 2 years before moving to The Pig on the Beach.
Ever since living in the UK, I’ve been entering competitions – World Class top 50 Semi finals, many UKBG competitions, lots of brands competitions including Tio Pepe and many others. I won UKBG Plymouth Bramble competition in 2019, and became the UKBG South Bartender of the Year. I also won the UKBG Calvados Final and went to France to represent the UK in the Global Final.
Alex Young – Southern Division – The Ginger Viking
I started making cocktails in 2017 doing specialist food themed nights. From there I started a pop up cocktail evening in my friend’s cafe, where we became one of the Top 20 runners up in the Observer OFM awards in 2018, and top runner up in the southwest 2019. In the same year, I became UKBG Calvados Champion, UKBG Meriden Bartender of the year and had multiple top 5 finishes and wins at other competitions. We grew into our own bar called ‘Ginger Viking’, making original and classic cocktails with a Viking twist. we now have a dedicated craft ale bar, showcasing everything great in the craft ale world, in our separate deli and cafe.
Gregorio Soriente – Southern Division – The Hedgerow at Conrad St James
After finishing his bachelor’s degree in music, Gregorio fell in love with bartending at The Four Seasons Hotel in Florence. He then packed his suitcase (including his guitar) and moved to London when he first worked as Bar Manager at The Distillery in Portobello Road before joining the team at The Savoy Bar – probably the most famous and celebrated hotel bar in the world. He is now head of bars at Hilton Conrad London St. James Hotel.
Thomas Kirk – Northern Division – Below Stairs
A hospitality veteran having worked in bars, restaurants and kitchens for over a decade before settling into Below Stairs when it opened in Leeds in 2017. Since then, I have placed in several national and international cocktail competitions including 3rd at UKBG’s National Cocktail Competition in 2019 and representing the UK at the 2018 Angostura Global Cocktail Competition finals in Trinidad. I have also strived to push Below Stairs forward with very technical and conceptual menus, helping us achieve several nominations including Best Bar Team at the Imbibe awards in 2019 and placing in the UK 50 Best Bars.
Alex Holmes – Northern Division – Hedonist/Liquor Studio
I have worked in a variety of venues over the past 10 years or so, starting in an Italian restaurant above a blockbuster video store before hand-pulling ales in a pub. It was while at University that I started working in high volume cocktail bars. I then went on to learn flair in Thailand before returning to Leeds and moving into the independent bar scene. Speakeasies, dive bars and rooftop terraces, you name it, I’ve made a pornstar martini there! Last year I got back from working in some of the best whiskey and cocktail bars in Melbourne and started with Hedonist, a welcoming neighbourhood bar in the heart of Leeds. Still with the same company I have transitioned into Liquor Studio & Hedonist drinks, running educational sessions for consumers, educating about spirits and representing our brand in events with clients up and down the UK.
Tom Bowen – Northern Division – Tattu Leeds
Managed Tattu Leeds, Blind Tyger, and have worked across the region – Double Tree, East Village, Smokestack and Pintura Basque Kitchen. I have found myself working in all styles of late night venues, and I believe my own personal touch is a combination of all of them. Without the prestige, I like to create a more relaxed experience when it comes to my drinks. I’ve competed at a high level since entering the scene, even making it to the Nikka national finals. As I have a passion for modern Japanese culture and traditions, which is why I’m really invested in this year’s UKBG competition.
Alexandra Fryday – Northern Division – The Domino Club
I’ve worked in the industry for a relatively brief 5 years, with the majority of my career spent in high volume cocktail bars in Leeds, such as Jake’s Bar. Iam currently working at The Domino Club. Most of my success in cocktail competitions has come in the past year, sparked by making it through to Patron Perfectionist Top 30. Since then, I have competed in the Reyka Expedition National final as part of Team North and won two Leeds based comps held by Macmyra Swedish Whisky and Benriach Scotch.
Simone Ciambrone – Northern Division – Donovan’s Bar, Brown’s Hotel
I am 24 years old, from Italy. I moved to London when I was 19 with the dream of working for the best places in London, as a consequence of me spending whole afternoons in my hospitality college days on YouTube watching videos of the most influential bartenders in the world, hoping that one day I could become like them. It is easy to guess how I felt when I got the offer from the Donovan bar to work with the “Maestro”. Other priceless experiences I gathered in London were in places such as the Ritz, The Dorchester and the Lanesborough.
Marco Maiorano – London Division – Red Room at The Connaught Hotel
My first taste of hospitality came from my family, which supported me in taking my first steps on this planet and behind the bar counter, handing down to me three generations of knowledge, skills, passion, values and traditions of Italian hospitality.
From the beginning, I always dreamt to travel the world, and after an intense short experience in New York City, I moved to London, where I am currently living.
My career in London has been a rollercoaster. I have had the chance to experience different environments such as cocktail bars, hotel rooftop bars, Michelin star restaurants and Luxury hotels. I started my journey with the Hilton Hotels company and I have been lucky enough to be part of the Savage Garden team, voted best Hilton bar in Europe, Africa and the Middle East in 2018. After three years I realized my dream to work in what I consider one of the most prestigious 5-star luxury hotels: The Connaught Hotel, based in Mayfair and part of the Maybourne Group.
I took part in the opening of the Red Room, the newest bar at the Connaught in a decade. from the interiors to the menu, the concept of the bar fully expresses the combination of art, wine and cocktails, establishing a new modern and articulate view of the bar industry. Being part of a terrific talented team, surrounded by art and having the opportunity to be mentored by one of the most iconic personalities of our industry Agostino Perrone, I feel the chance to express to the fullest my creativity and eclectic personality combined with elegance, skills and style.
Throughout my career I have participated in several competitions, winning the Arbikie Sustainable Competition 2020, achieving second and third place at the “Angelo Zola” National Italian Competition of A.I.B.E.S. in 2020 and 2021, and being awarded as Bartender of the Year 2020 of my region Campania. It is for me a true honour to compete in the final of UKBG – to have the chance to compete for the country which changed my entire life.
Hyppolite Civins – London Division – Quaglinos
I have been in London for 4 years now and I came here to develop myself as a bartender. I was working in ‘Be At One’ for 4 years as a trainee first and as a head bartender/trainer then. I move to quaglinos in july 2021 in order to progress even more and step up. I have been doing flair competitions and this is my second mixology competition. This will be my first final ever.
William Dinsdale – London Division – The Yard, St Albans
Worked in London as a whetstone sharpener for several years, servicing the knives and tools of many great Bars and Restaurants, during which he obtained WSET Qualifications and fell in love with hospitality. He eventually changed his career and became a full-time sommelier at The Bishop’s Cave, which laid the foundation for him to become Head Bartender at The Yard Cocktail Bar in St Albans.
Alex Mateo Garcia – London Division – ROKA Mayfair
After working in a factory for over 2 years, at 20 years old, in 2016 I decided to leave my comfort zone and start a new life in a country with a language I didn’t speak at all!
Beginnings are always hard. I started as Barback, which I spent 18 month doing – wishing to become Bartender, but my level of English wasn’t good enough. I got promoted to Junior Bartender at Roka Canary Wharf, winning up-selling competitions on specific products and going on to develop new seasonal cocktail menu for the venue. Six months later I got promoted to Senior Bartender.
After all my effort and commitment shown, I received an offer to open Roka Dubai. However, I decided to stay to take a Bar Supervisor position, in the country I’ve grown in. I have participated in Beluga competition, and Arbikie and got to the finals – but COVID 19 sadly cancelled that.
Summer 2020 to Summer 2021 I was back in the factory in Barcelona, not doing what I love the most, but needing the income. Suddenly, I got an offer to work back at Roka for a pop up in Mallorca, a project of 14 weeks. After the success of that bar, I was invited back again back to Roka London with a supervisor position – and two months later I’ve found myself in the Grand Final of UKBG National Cocktail Competition!