Last Tuesday, the curtain came down on the 2016 Diageo Reserve World class Bartender of the Year National Final. About 80 bartenders entered the fierce competition which ran for months. After many hours of rigorous learning, shaking and stirring, eight bartenders made it to the finals where they would awe the judges with their creativity, ingenuity and flare.
The finalists were presented with four challenges aimed at testing their skills and ability to work under intense pressure but still come up with exceptional cocktails. Earlier in the day, they were required to inspire the judges with two cocktail rituals that said something about Kenya and the USA under the Around The World challenge. The natural rhythm of life was tested under the Night and Day challenge while Street Food Jam required them to create a Ketel One and a Zacapa cocktail to match after going on a culinary journey to explore Kenyan food. The most interesting to watch and probably the most intense challenge for the mixologists was the Against the Clock challenge. Here, they were required to make a maximum of eight cocktails in ten minutes.
The seven finalists showcased their creativity and skill to a panel of judges that included Global Mortlach and Singleton Ambassador-Georgina Bell, Reserve Ambassador for Kenya-Dougie Duncanson, 2015 Kenya’s best mixologist-Akash Tomar, Reserve Brand manager for Kenya- Sherlyne Muita and Executive Chef Ciaran of Villa Rosa Kempinski.
The bartenders had their minds fixated on the perks that come with winning the National finals. The bartenders gave their all to land the chance of representing Kenya at the World Class Global Final in Miami, USA in September. The competition reached its exciting climax when Joan Samia, the head bartender of ArtCaffe Group, was crowned the national winner. Tears flowed freely down her face as she knelt on the podium buried in the confetti. The rest of the competitors hoisted the petite winner as the crowd giddily chanted her name.
She fascinated the judges with her for passion for unique serves and presented serves that were a combination of the creativity and sophisticated tastes. Her speed at the Against the Clock challenge arguably made her stand out from her fellow competitors.
Samia will be headed to Miami in September for the global final. Launched in 2009, the Global Final is an internationally recognised platform and mark of distinction for mixology. The final brings together mixologists from all over the world where they compete for the title of Global Ambassador for Diageo World Class. If Samia wins in Miami (we pray for her) she will get a chance to travel around the world, educating and inspiring new talent whilst still developing her own skills and knowledge.
The participation of Joan Samia and Redempta Muluka proved that bar tending is not limited to one gender. The standard of the final seven contestants also highlights the growing standard of Kenya’s cocktail culture.
As Potentash.com, we wish you well Samia. Shake and Stir your way to the top of the mixology world.