Last holiday Monday saw an intense competition taking place behind the doors of Vivendi Cabaret.
Fourteen local bartenders took to the stage at Vivendi to take part in a global bartender competition sponsored by Ketel One vodka.
‘Diageo Global Reserve brands recognised that Cayman has incredibly talented mixologists and a very high-end and discerning customer base,’ said Barnaby Richardson, marketing manager at Jacques Scott.
Diageo’s brands include Johnnie Walker Blue, Ketel One Vodka, Ciroc, Don Julio Tequila, Tanqueray Gin and Zacapa rum. For the past nine months, the company has been on a quest to find the best bartender in the world, travelling to 25 countries to find the finalists for what has been dubbed the ‘liquid Oscars’.
The Cayman Islands were the only country visited throughout the Caribbean, so the winner of the local competition at Vivendi will be the only bartender not only from Cayman but also from the Caribbean at the finals, which are taking place in London, England this week.
Bartenders came from a variety of local institutions, including bars such as Rackam’s, Kaibo and Margaritaville, restaurants like Deckers, Ristorante Pappagallo and the Wharf and hotels including the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Westin Casuarina Resort and the Marriott Beach Resort.
In the end, Khi Leonard from the Westin won the chance to fly to London this week and compete in the global competition. The itinerary for the finalists in London looked funfilled and exciting, with the chance to enjoy a free day in London on Monday, 13 July, followed by the first and second days of events on 14 and 15 July with the close of competition on Thursday, 16 July.
Judges for the Cayman competition were chef Benjamin Lapluie from Seven Prime Cuts and Sunsets restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Hailey Wagner, sommelier also from Seven Prime Cuts and Sunsets, Sheena Hurlston, reporter, entertainment correspondent and on-air presenter for CITN, Josue Merced Reyes, international food and drinks expert and Rebecca Quinonez, Ketel One brand ambassador.
‘We chose Mr. Lapluie and Ms Wagner for their nose and palate, Ms Hurlstone for her on-island experience and Ms Quinonez and Mr. Reyes for their global experience at judging,’ Mr. Richardson explained.
Ms Quinonez was impressed by the quality of the competitors.
‘The standard was incredible and was by far superior to many I have experienced around the globe,’ she said. ‘We look forward to welcoming Khi in London to compete for Cayman against the other 28 world finalists.’
Mr. Richardson echoed Ms Quinonez’s sentiment. ‘Once again, Cayman shows what it can do,’ he said. ‘The Ketel One World Class bar challenge has set the bar for cocktail competitions on the island.’
Recipe for ‘Fond Farewell’
Created by: Khi Leonard from the Westin Casuarina Resort
1.5 oz Ketel One vodka
1 oz frangipani-infused syrup
Twist of lemon
Long twist of lemon
Candied frangipani flower
Combine the vodka with the frangipani-infused syrup.
Shake and pour over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Top with soda.
Express lemon twist over drink and discard twist.
Garnish with long lemon twist and candied frangipani flower.
The frangipani flower is native to Grand Cayman and other parts of the Caribbean.