winner: Karlina Permell pours her stamp of excellence called Clyneish Whisper over ice. –Photos: Ayanna Kinsale

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Bartenders

get a taste of victory

By Kimoy Leon Sing

The tinkling of ice as it hits the glass is an all-too-familiar sound for most bartenders. Surrounded by a wide array of premium liquor, the aroma, colour and flavour appeals to all the five senses.

Using their intellect and skills, local bartenders went head-to-head in the annual Johnnie Walker’s World Class Taste Experience Bartender’s competition recently.

Highlighting some of Johnnie Walker premium labels, 16 bartenders converged at Chaud Creole Restaurant, Hotel Normandie, St Ann’s. 

Judging the competition was Johnnie Walker’s official taste ambassador, Arturo Savage. He came to Trinidad recently to find the best bartender in the country. The winning delegate would have the opportunity to compete against the top 50 bartenders from around the world in the Global Finals of the Johnnie Walker’s World Class Taste Experience Bartender’s competition which takes place in July at a location yet to be announced.

However before that can occur, bartenders must complete the local legs in their respective countries. Comprising four waves or segments, competitors as part of the criteria must participate in at least three out of the four waves which run from November 2013 and ends May 2014.

Chaud Creole Restaurant was abuzz with chatter as bartenders had approximately five minutes to make two cocktails using Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Johnnie Walker Platinum Label and Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve. 

With stiff competition many participants’ hands trembled through their presentation, however, they were able to recover and finish their drinks.

Topping the second leg of the competition was Karlina Pernell, second place went to Tyronne Benjamin and third place was Chad Le Loy. For many of the competitors it was a battle of nerves. Some of the winning drinks include: Johnnie’s Treasure, Walk The Walk, Generation Next, Manhattan Sorrel and Brighter Days to name a few.

The competition is in its fifth year and has trained over 15,000 bartenders worldwide. Designed to welcome creativity and to inspire bartenders to be the best they can be, the competition is aimed at training and educating bartenders about the history of spirits, mixology and cocktails.

Savage said, “Apart from being a good bartender, the delegate moving forward should also have good presentation skills. They should have some flair and choreography behind the bar but most importantly, the bartender must keep in mind flavour. Even though flavour is subjective for most people, the objective here with this competition is balance. Bartenders must also be responsible and promote responsible drinking. We are looking for an entertainer, a superstar behind the bar.”

Justin Ballentyne, Akil Alexander and Martin James were also selected and would have the opportunity to be a part of one of Johnnie Walker’s special events, titled, “Game Changers” that takes place on the Voyager.

The Voyager is a 183-foot luxury sailing yacht which will arrive in Trinidad and is scheduled to dock at Pier I, Chaguaramas between February 4 - February 8. 

One of the world’s leading luxury whisky houses, the Voyager’s journey re-imagines the epic ocean voyages that took Johnnie Walker from the four corners of Scotland to the four corners of the world. This is the first time the ship has ever travelled to the Western Hemisphere. Trinidad is one of seven countries at which it will stop on its journey. The ship recently completed the Asian leg of its journey and will also dock in Antigua,Venezuela, Aruba, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Miami marking the end of the journey in the United States.

At each destination, the Voyager will play host to a series of high-profile Johnnie Walker Blue Label events and experiences that will celebrate each port’s own story of progress and innovation and recognise national game changers who embody the pioneering spirit and vision of the Walker family. Celebrating those who have faced their own personal ‘Odyssey’ and carved new paths for those around them, the Voyager will bring together the region’s most important influencers to engage a new generation of whisky drinkers and luxury aficionados in a world of quality craftsmanship, heritage and modern innovation.

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