First Round Challenges – Red Carpet

The red carpet challenge was a lot of fun! Since there are no restrictions to how you conceptualise  your serves, there is a lot of theatre and a lot of showmanship. The most interesting ting was to see how differently we had all interpreted the challenge.

My Ketel One Signature Cocktail, Pursuit of Happiness, was inspired by Will Smith and his movie with the same name. I think its important to always keep in mind the reason we are all in this industry, to make people happy! My favo thing about being a bartender has always been the fact that you get to be a part of peoples happy moments: a great date, night out with friends, celebrations and on occasions – the only good part of a really bad day. This drink celebrates these moments.

Pursuit of Happiness
50 ml Ketel One vodka
15 ml Olorosso sherry
20 ml Lemon juice
15 ml sugar syrup (2:1)
1 dash Mozart chocolate bitters
4 drops toasted sesame oil
Lemon zest, white chocolate & edible gold

Shake with ice, strain into prechilled cocktail coupe. Zest the lemon peel over the drink and discard, garnish with edible gold and white chocolate.

Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 4 - Bartending Challenges

My thought behind the drink was to make a drink that is easy to like for first time guests, guests that might not be that familiar with cocktails, but still keep an interesting flavour profile, so that bartenders and regulars would enjoy it too.

For my bottle serve I chose Talisker 10 as the lead brand. It was an easy choice. I LOVE Talisker.

The inspo for my, Made by the Sea, Talisker 10 serve was Gerorge Clooney and his movie “The perfect Storm”. In this movie he plays the captain of a fishing boat caught at sea, in what turns out to be the perfect storm (if there is such a thing).
If ever caught out at sea in bad weather, most sailors would know to look for lighthouses to guide them back to port – and this could mean the difference between life and death….

For this serve, I used a big glass trey filled with seaweed and oyster shells, and in the middle I had an atomiser. On top, I placed my Talisker 10 bottle, making it the best lighthouse ever (in my mind). I covered it up with a big glass cloche – and as it sat there while I made my signature cocktail, the cloche filled up with a cedar wood scented mist, looking very storm like.

As I lifted the cloche, releasing the aroma of George Clooney ( his perfume at least), the “lighthouse” appears – just like it would when you reach your safe haven.

Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 4 - Bartending Challenges

When I was young, we always used to go “treasure” hunting after big storms. If you were lucky, you could find a lot of cool stuff! Most of the time you’d have to really search to find something – and it was important to never leave any stones unturned.

Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 4 - Bartending Challenges

Underneath each oyster shell I had hidden small glass bottles with infused water, 4 in total, and one by one they were revealed to the judges.

The bottles represents 4 seasons by the sea, and each season was inspired by the 4 main flavour points of Talisker 10.

Spring – when the ocean wakes up after a long hard winter, with its crisp fresh sea air, was infused with Nori and Sea salt.
Summer – with sunshine and happy days, was infused with pear and pineapple
Fall – Cooler weather and harsher nights, was infused with black pepper and grains of paradise
Winter – Coming full circle with open fire and smokiness, combined with crisp winter air, was infused with Lapsang and Jasmine

Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 4 - Bartending ChallengesDiageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 4 - Bartending Challenges

The idea behind the serve is quite simple, whisky and water, but I wanted to tailor it specifically to Talisker and really try to tell the story of why I love this whisky so much. For me that means highlighting these flavours, but in a subtle way. Each seasonal serve was a shot of Talisker with 10-20 ml of infused water added to it.

Click on any image to see gallery!

All images by Ian Gavan/Getty Images


First Round Challenges – St. Tropez Market Challenge

The market challenge is always highly anticipated during World Class finals. It’s so much fun, and it gives you a chance to step out of your everyday comfort zone of flavours and ingredients. The St.Tropez market was amazing – lots of vintage glassware, Louis Vuitton bags and other memorabilia, but we had a very different mission (and budget).

The set up is like this:

We all got 30 Euro and 45 minutes to spend at the St.Tropez market, before returning to the ship. Back at the ship, we got 30 minutes to prep and then 10 minutes to set up behind the bar + 10 minutes to present and make our 2 drinks before the judges.

Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 3 - Bartending Challenges

Me & Mattia at the market

Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 3 - Bartending Challenges

Talking to the guys from Travel Channel US

Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 3 - Bartending Challenges

Buying chorizo from a local vendor

Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 3 - Bartending Challenges

Nick, Nabil Ben & David

There was a lot of different things at the market, but in the end I ended up with the following:

Preserved lemon, liquorice root, squash blossoms, chorizo, dill, black truffle, Blonde Beer and flaked chillies.

Unfortunately, the squash blossoms wilted to much and I couldn’t use them – and the truffle wasn’t strong enough to give the wanted flavour to the drink in mind. I had to make some changes back at the ship, but in the end I was happy with my drinks.

My first drink, Licence to Dill, was pretty straight forward without any major prep needed.

Licence to Dill
50 ml Ketel One Vodka
20 ml White chocolate liqueur
15 ml Lemon juice
2 sprigs of fresh dill
Fresh dill

Shake ingredients on ice, double strain into prechilled cocktailglass. Garnish with sprig of dill

For my second drink, Smokey & The Bandit, I had a lot more prep to do.

As soon as the 30 minutes started, I grabbed the blender to start off my chorizo syrup.
Normally I would let this infuse for days, but due to the time restraint, I needed to make a quick version without loosing on the flavour.
I chopped up the chorizo, put it in the blender adding equal parts sugar and water, and blended it for 5 minutes.
To boost the flavour, I infused 20 of Ketel One vodka with the chilli flakes and added it to the mixture.  I let it sit for 10 minutes before straining it through a coffee filter.

Initially, I was planning to use vinegar as my source of acid for this drink, but when I saw the preserved whole lemons at the market I couldn’t resist using it. It still has the tart sourness of fresh lemon, but with an added layer of salty brininess from the preservation.
During the prep time I just cut the lemon in half and squeezed it, just like a regular lemon.

As the base for my drink I was going to use smokey whisky, but because of the lemon I decided to go for a mix of two spirits – Lagavulin 16 (Smokey) and Don Julio Reposado (a very nice “bandit” indeed).

Smokey & The Bandit
30 ml Lagavulin 16
20 ml Don Julio Reposado
30 ml Chorizo syrup
15 ml Preserved lemon juice
Blonde beer float

Shake first four ingredient on ice, strain into a highballg glass with ice. Top up with blonde beer. Garnish with mini chorizos served on top in a tea strainer.

The funny thing about this challenge, which was revealed during elimination, is of course that Steve Olson whom I served Smokey and the Bandit, is a vegetarian – and Mr Ueno san isn’t to crazy about dill (Even though he now has a licence). Lucky for me, both (all actually) judges are extremely professional, and were’t offended. Still, I bet its gonna be a “tv moment” !

Images by Ian Gavan/Getty Images

First Round Challenges – Mediterranean Mastery

My first challenge was the Mediterranean Mastery, and we were asked to create two cocktails inspired by the area surrounding the Mediterranean.  I chose to make two quite different cocktails, one based on a country very close to my heart, Greece, and the other on one of my favourite flavour memories of the Med, Rosé wine.

My first drink, Inception Martini, was inspired by Greece and the island of Crete.
Inception meaning Starting point of something, reflects that I started my bartending career in Greece many years ago.
I chose a martini style drink because Dry Martini was one of the first drink I learnt how to make, and still to this day it’s one of my favo drinks to enjoy. And of course, one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Crete – Olive oil!

Inception Martini
65 ml Qlive Oil infused Tanqueray no Ten
15 ml Bianco Vermouth
1 dash Aphrodite Bitters
Lemon zest

Stirred on ice, strain into prechilled coctail coupe. Zest the lemon peel over the drink and discard.

I served the drink on a small wooden plate made of olive tree.
With the drink I also had a side snack, a pipette filled with olive oil (same I used to fat wash the gin, from Sitia, Crete) and on it I put a grapefruit segment and a kalamata olive.

While i kept all the classic elements of a martini, (gin, vermouth, lemon/olive) I changed the way they appear in the drink. Fatwashing the T-Ten with olive oil adds a richness to the mouthfeel of the drink, and it gives it a peppery dry finish, which is why I decided to go with a bianco vermouth instead of the dry. I used the Aphrodite (goddess of Love) bitters to get the coffee and chocolate notes, which in my opinion works amazingly to give the drink a long finish.

For my second drink, Wild at Heart, I wanted to capture the feel of my favo tipple from this area ( we were docked just outside St.Tropez at that time) – Rosé wine.

Wild at Heart
45 ml Don Julio Blanco
20 ml Cocchi Americano Rosa
20 ml Pink grapefruit juice
15 ml 8 Brix Red Verjus
1 dash Peychauds Bitter
Sumac and salt rim
Edible gold

Throw the drink with ice, strain into prechilled cocktail coupe with sumac and salt rim. Garnish with edible gold on the stem of the glass.

The easiest way to describe how the drink tastes is to picture this: Imagine if Paloma went on a holiday to the south of France and fell in love with a winemaker. This would be their baby.

The drink is light and refreshing, and it feels almost like sitting down with a nice glass of rosé. Both Don Julio Blanco and Cocchi Americano Rosa has grapefruit notes, so mixing them with fresh grapefruit works really well. The verjus, made from both ice wine grapes, unripe grapes and ripe grapes, is both sweet and sour at the same time and together with the other ingredients gives depth to the drink, keeping it tasty even as the drink warms up a bit while you drink it.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pics of the drinks, but will update if I get hold of some.
Update: I got some pics of my drinks from the lovely Angela Maridaki – Thank you so much!

Monica Berg World Class 2013

Me moments before I started my first challenge


Wild at Heart


Inception Martini

All images by Ian Gavan/Getty Images ( except the Insta pic I stole from Guri)

World Class Global Finals : Opening Ceremony

Here are some photos from the opening ceremony and the first evening onboard the Azamara Journey.

Click on any image to start slideshow!

All images by Ian Gavan/ Getty Images

World Class Global Finals Recipes

I will be posting all my recipes from the World Class Global Finals here within the next few days, categorised by the different challenges. I will try to include photos when possible.

In the meantime, enjoy this opening sequence of this years Spirited Awards!