The World Class cocktail competition is taking place in Zozimus on May 30. We checked out the six finalists, who represent some of the top cocktail bars in the country, to see what it's all about.
It's taken a year of challenges and mystery bar visits, but now six finalists remain to do battle for the title of World Class Irish Bartender of the Year 2017.
The final will include tough challenges and races against the clock while being judged by an expert panel, including Masterchef host John Torode. The winner will go on to represent Ireland in the Global Final in Mexico City in September.
Let's look at our first competitor in action and see what inspired him to participate in this prestigious contest...
Bartender: Alan Moore
Bar: Lemuel’s, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2
Cocktail: Luck Be A Lady
30ml Ciroc Vodka
15ml Lime juice
15ml Sugar syrup
2 dashes of Grapefruit bitters
Topped with Champagne
Grapes to garnish (optional)
Why should people come to Lemuel’s?
At Lemuel's we're striving to make a relaxing arena for people to come and relax at whatever time of day or night, whether they're in for a morning coffee, afternoon tea or some great cocktails.
The bar is relatively new and an innovative offering on the Dublin scene. Our staff are very hospitable and they're always looking for ways to improve things. They love what they do. It’s great that a year on from when the bar opened, they still want to push boundaries and try new things.
So come to experience just that — new things and great staff!
What’s the best thing about working behind the bar?
Meeting so many people. Inviting them into our world and introducing them to cocktail culture. Being from Galway, hospitality is in my blood and the bar is the best place to exercise that gene.
What’s trending in the bar scene right now?
Gin is still the biggest trending drink at the moment, but Irish whiskey isn't far behind, which is great to see.
Why should people see bartending as a profession?
Bartending has always been a profession in my opinion, ever since the days of the first celebrity bartender Jerry Thomas. It’s something that if you love it, it will love you back.
There are so many opportunities to be had from bartending, you can travel the world with it through competitions or by just bartending in different countries. Few jobs offer such opportunity in that respect.
Who’s the coolest bartender in the world right now and why?
That's a tough one! There are so many cool bartenders out there now it’s hard to name just one.
I think it would have to be a bartender I met last October in the hotel — Nelson de Matos from Portugal. We had the chance to work together for a night. He was so energetic, outgoing and down to earth. Nothing seemed to faze him.
If you were a flavour, what flavour would you be and why?
I'd probably be something sweet, because I have a huge sweet tooth. I’m a cup of tea to a pack of biscuits kind of guy and I don't think I could be anything else.
What is your favourite drink to mix and why?
People ask me this all the time and I reckon that's like asking my father which one of us is his favourite! But if I had to narrow it down to one, it would be an Old Fashioned. It's one of the all-time classics for me, such a great little drink with a great story behind it. Making them or drinking them, it’s up there for me.
Who would you most like to mix a drink for? And what would you make them?
My parents. Since I moved up to Dublin they've only been up for a few visits and have never got to see me in action sadly. The night of the World Class Final will be their first time seeing me in a competition also, so I’m looking forward to that.
I'd make my mother The Last Word as she would like sour drinks and for Dad I’d make an Old Fashioned. He's not a big cocktail drinker, but he has had a few and is growing fond of them!
I chose Ciroc because I want to use something unique to the vodka category. Vodka doesn’t get enough attention as a spirit to nose and understand in flavour. Ciroc is made from grapes instead of grain which gives it a really appealing profile. It’s a vodka that can stand out in cocktails as opposed to fading into the flavours you throw at it.
Why did you enter World Class?
I entered World Class for the same reason most of us entered it — for the challenge, to push yourself and to win. But I know it's not going to be easy. No competition is simple and the last three weeks have been probably the hardest with getting everything ready and just right. From the drinks to the stories, to the presentation details.
There have been some sleepless nights and I’m sure I have wrecked my poor girlfriend's head sometimes with ideas and random bouts of talking to myself. If you asked me if I would do it again, I would say yes. It’s not easy, but nothing in life is easy and I love the challenge of competitions — you always learn from them.
Win or lose, you always learn something.