The best bartender in Ireland will be determined this May 30 in Zozimus, where the prestigious World Class cocktail competition will be taking place.
After a year of searching the country for top talent, six competitors now remain to fight for the title of World Class Irish Bartender of the Year 2017.
Coming out on top won't be easy though. On the day, our finalists face fierce competition, tough challenges and the criticism of an expert panel of judges — which includes John Torode of MasterChef.
Not only will the winner gain glory, they'll also be invited to represent Ireland at the Global Final of the competition in Mexico City come September.
Take a look at our second competitor in action and find out what attracted him to this contest...
Bartender: Karim Mehdi
Bar: The Exchequer, 3-5 Exchequer St, Dublin 2
Cocktail: Jalisco Swizzle
Spirit: Don Julio Blanco
50ml Don Julio Blanco infused with lemon balm
25ml homemade pomegranate shrub (5 part pomegranate syrup: 2.5 part apple cider vinegar)
20ml lime juice
Lemon balm leaves
Topped with soda water
Why should people come to The Exchequer?
People should come to The Exchequer to experience serious drinks and by that I mean drinks that are prepared with care and attention to detail. All of our drinks are made and served by bartenders that don’t take themselves too seriously and know how to have fun in friendly atmosphere with cool tunes. The food is amazing too!
What’s the best thing about working behind the bar?
I think the everyday interactions with our patrons. You never know who is going to walk through that door and what kind of day they have had, but you still want to make sure that when they walk out they are a little happier. I love to see people smiling as the leave The Exchequer.
What’s trending in the bar scene right now?
In my humble opinion, bartenders are changing the way they want to be seen by customers. For a while it was all very tense and serious now is a lot more fun in terms of drinks and service.
I like to think that people have become a little more adventurous and are willing to try new ingredients — as long as they have fun and easy names to pronounce.
Why should people see bartending as a profession?
I thought it already was one! I mean we have careers. There is a ladder to climb from bar-back to bar manager or even bar owner. A lot of bartenders are in the industry for more than 5 years, so if that doesn’t sound like a profession I don’t know what is. We just work different hours for your entertainment, that is all.
Who’s the coolest bartender in the world right now and why?
There are few bartenders that are 'hot' right now for their contribution to the world of bartending. I’m inspired by bartenders like Ian Griffith, who is all about bar sustainability. On our own shores, my good friend Conor Myers basically has a whole nation of bartenders supporting him, as he's about to represent Ireland in another global cocktail competition.
If you were a flavour, what flavour would you be and why?
I would be chocolate, because I can be sweet but I can also be dark if stay in the sun for long enough. After all, I do have African origins.
What is your favourite drink to mix and why?
I like mixing a lot of different drinks as there are so many good ones out there. At home I could be shaking a daiquiri one day, stirring up a Manhattan twist another. All depends really. As for my customers, I love mixing any drink that will make YOU happy.
Who would you most like to mix a drink for? And what would you make them?
I would love to mix a drink for Kevin Hart. I’m not really sure what I would make him, but I'm sure we will have a hilarious time. I’d also like to mix something up for Amy Schumer. I’d say she’s a lot of fun! I guess you've probably realised by now that I like comedians.
Why Don Julio Blanco?
I have this thing about tequila and after having had a few bad ones during my time as a student, I didn’t think I would ever find one that I'd enjoy so much. Don Julio is a very high-quality tequila with a smooth mouthfeel and lovely citrus notes that make it easy for mixing cocktails with.
Why did you enter World Class?
I entered World Class because I wanted to know how far I can push my creativity and cocktail making abilities. And obviously I want to win it!
World Class is one of the most recognised cocktail competitions in the world. It's like no other as it pushes you to create not just drinks, but full drink experiences for the judges. It’s a very demanding competition with fantastic rewards. The winner is going to Mexico City to represent Ireland. How cool is that?
For me, being a finalist for the Irish Final is absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to show the judges what I have in store for them.