The country’s most talented bartenders will assemble in Zozimus this May 30 to determine who is the best mixologist in Ireland.
After a year-long process of challenges and mystery bar visits, six finalists remain to compete for the title of World Class Irish Bartender of the Year 2017.
The final will be overseen by a panel of expert judges, which includes John Torode host of MasterChef, and the winner will go on to compete in the Global Final in Mexico City in September.
Here’s our fourth competitor, let’s see what he can do and find out why he’s taking part in the competition…
Bartender: Mihai Pop
Bar: The Chelsea Drugstore, 25 South Great George's Street, Dublin 2
Cocktail: Classic Gin Martini
Spirit: Tanqueray No. TEN
50 ml Tanqueray 10
10 ml Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
Lemon peel garnish
Why should people come to The Chelsea Drugstore?
We’re a venue that wants you, as a guest, to feel comfortable, and to enjoy drinks in a relaxing atmosphere. The team here will try to make your drink suit your taste and give you an experience with every drink you’re having.
Regardless if you're drinking cocktails, wine, a beer or a sparkling water, we will make you feel like you belong there.
What’s the best thing about working behind the bar?
Meeting so many interesting guests will make you push yourself harder in order to achieve more. Every day we try to improve our drinks, technique, hospitality and we try to deliver 110%.
Basically, working behind the bar will make you better in every way. On the plus side, we all know bartenders are really cool, right?
What’s trending in the bar scene right now?
At the moment, the bartending community is much more aware of everything that's going on. Sustainability is one of the biggest leaps in recent years, as bars try ingenious ways to reduce waste.
Also, delivering not just a drink but an experience is becoming more and more of a 'must have' for every bar. We’re progressing every day and not even the sky’s a limit anymore.
Why should people see bartending as a profession?
My life changed after I became a bartender. I progressed as a human. I've learned so many people skills, made so many friends and had loads of fun. I think people should see bartending as an art, not just a person who delivers your regular beer or G&T. You can turn the day of your guest from standard to exceptional.
There are so many interesting things that happen in a bar every single day and so I strongly believe that being a bartender gives a wholly different view of the world.
Who’s the coolest bartender in the world right now and why?
Hard question. There are so many talented bartenders around the globe and so many of them have such big impact on the industry. For me, Alex Kratena is one of the best. The way he re-invented the hotel bar and the way he motivated his team to be the best in the world is absolutely inspiring. And to this moment, he is constantly searching for unique ingredients, vessels and techniques that bring bartending to a whole new level.
If you were a flavour, what flavour would you be and why?
Possibly mint. Refreshing and cool — every bar should have it.
What is your favourite drink to mix and why?
That would be a gin Martini with Tanqueray No. TEN. Such a simple drink, but one of the hardest to get right. Such complexity and just a few ingredients. Depending on your guest, making a martini can change from one to another. It kind of reflects the human beings requesting it. Simple on the surface but super complex and interesting under the skin.
Who would you most like to mix a drink for? And what would you make them?
If Jerry Thomas was still alive, I would be honoured to make him a drink. Probably I’d make him either a gin Martini or a Negroni. I think he would enjoy them.
Why Tanqueray No. TEN?
There is no argument that it's one of the best gins that ever was, or is. A gin that is full-bodied with mesmerising citric notes that would be my choice every single time. Every bartender loves this gin and what you can make with it, from a perfect Gin Martini to one of your own creations. This gin simply speaks for itself. Luxury in a glass.
Why did you enter World Class?
World Class is a competition that's so prestigious and challenging. And you don’t realise the scale of it all until you enter the first time. Then you realise just how much you need to learn and push yourself in order to become the best.
If you want to meet the best people in the industry, work with the best spirits and get feedback from world-renowned bartenders, World Class is the competition for you.