It’s almost time | World Class TV Premiere

It’s almost time guys!

From what I hear, the UK version will premiere on November 17th on Food Network UK, and its American counterpart on November 18th on Travel Channel.

One can only guess what has made the cut, but I’m sure we’re in for a lot of brilliant bartender tv moments!
For now, you can watch the tv trailer here for some hints of what to come.


Buenos días from Barcelona!

I’m in beautiful Barcelona today, reunited with my fellow WE World Class 2013 winners.

We’ll be making drinks at an event later tonight, but for now, it’s time to enjoy. I’m hoping we might have time to visit some bars, but seeing how the schedule is quite tight, I might have to save it for the next visit.

This is my third time in Barcelona, but for some reason, I’ve never actually been here for more than 24 hours straight.
At some point that will definitely have to change, not this time though, tomorrow I’m flying on to Italy for another job.

For now, cheers/salud!



Final Round Challenges – Speed Round

This was, for me at least, one of the most anticipated challenges of the whole competition. Cocktails against the clock gives you a chance to show the judges, all 8 of them, how you actually work behind a bar.

The drinks I had chosen for my round was:

Improved Whisky Cocktail | Talisker 10 | Stirred
Pink Gin | Tanqueray no Ten | Stirred
Rosita | Don Julio Blanco | Stirred
Coffee Cocktail | Zacapa 23 | Shaken
The Master Cleanse | Ketel One | Shaken
Batanga | Don Julio Blanco | Built
Moscow Mule | Ketel One | Built
Tropical Thing Sling | Tanqueray no Ten | Shaken

As opposed to some of my competitors, I chose to start off all the drinks at once, in order to streamline the service as much as possible.
When I practised this at home, my fastest time was 08.13, so I knew I should be able to execute all 8 drinks within the 10 minute time limit, even with the nerves kicking in.

In my opinion, there are a few key steps to surviving a speed round in WC.
– Read the rules
– Before you do anything, decide everything : choose what drinks to make, and what measures to use. You need to be exact, this way you wont have to worry how your drinks are going to taste during your round.
– Map out your routine on paper before you practise it behind the bar, then go back an adjust it after you’ve run through it a couple of times.
– Practise your routine as many times you can, with everything you’ll need for the drinks. “Dry runs” does not count!
– Never assume anything! If you need it – Bring it!

Personally, I felt good about my round, and I think this was my strongest challenge during the competition. I still have the Madrid round fresh in mind, so it felt really good to prove, if only to myself, that I can do it.

Cocktail against the clock also marked another significant moment, the end of the competition. This was the final challenge, and the end of an exhausting, but fantastic week.

Final Round Challenges – Punch and Glass

There was no time to rest after the final elimination. A quick pit stop at Bob’s Ketel One bar, a few interviews and then straight into the Punch and Glass  challenge.

For this challenge, we had to make one punch and one signature cocktail. The cocktail could be any cocktail you had served throughout the competition, or it could be a “new” creation.
For my Signature, I chose to use one of my drinks from the last menu at Aqua Vitae. Holy Smokes is one of my favourite self composed drinks, both flavour wise and concept. It’s very rich and moreish, and yet so simple in it’s composition with only three ingredients.

Holy Smokes
45 ml Lagavulin 16
45 ml Dubonnet
1 dash Mozart Chocolate bitters

Stir ingredients with ice, strain into prechilled old fashioned glass with ice. (During prep, wrap the glass with tissue paper, scented with your favourite perfume)

My style has always been very much about simplicity. Straightforward flavours, harmony as opposed to cacophony,  mixed up with the occasional unusual ingredient. I try to always have a logic behind the ingredients I choose, and research time is always my favourite part of creating new drinks.

For my punch I used the old Planter’s Punch reference as an inspiration

Take two of sour
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.

Punch Drunk Love (1 serving)
50 ml Tanqueray no Ten
15 ml Don Julio Blanco
30 ml Citrus mix (Equal parts lemon, grapefruit & lime juice)
20 ml Eucalyptus honey & Frankincense syrup
120 ml Kombucha (Fermented Sencha tea)
1 dash Peychauds Bitter
Lemon & Sage leaves

Throw ingredients with ice, strain into highball with ice. Garnish with lemon wheel and sage leaf.

This punch starts out quite subtile and clean with the spirits and lemon/lime, before it moves on to the richer flavours of honey, frankincense and grapefruit. It finishes off with Peychauds and kombucha. I always find that “fermented flavours” adds depth and character to drinks, giving more to the flavour experience while drinking the drink.

For those who have not tried, kombucha is fermented tea. It is made by adding culture (the scoby) in a sweetened tea and letting it ferment. Mine was made with sencha tea. ( I removed the scoby during prep time, obviously you do not want to serve it to the judges by mistake)

Final Elimination

16 competitors was about to become 8 – and this is how it went down:

We were gathered in a room altogether waiting to talk to the judges, Spike and Dale. We were told we would face the judges one and one, but when the elimination started, they decided to bring us in pairs of two  – which obviously added a bit of tension. We didn’t know at the time, but we assumed that one person would go through and one would be sent home. It proved to be right.

The wait felt like forever. I had the “pleasure” of being in the last pair to go before the judges, and as the room emptied and the rumors started to surface, all I could think of was the things I should have done better.
I’ve always been somewhat a perfectionist when it comes to work, and it seems like no matter how well I do, I always want to do better.

I was very nervous meeting the judges. Looking back, I can’t even remember what feedback I got from the judges. I do however remember feeling extremely relieved when they told me I was through.

For me, this elimination was a big shocker! I don’t know why, but for some reason, even though you know half of the bartenders will be eliminated – you still expect everyone to stay. It might just be due to all the stress and tension, but while its all going down, you really can’t imagine competing without them. Some of the guys, Emil (Sweden), Gareth (UK), Mattia (Italy) and Ivar (Netherlands), was in my group as far back as WE Finals in Madrid earlier this year. During the competition, they were some of my best friends and support, and I was extremely sad to see Team WE split up.

The ones who made it into the final round was

Mario, Puerto Rico
Laura, Switzerland
Jeff, USA
David, Spain
Jason, New Zealand
Luke, Australia
Tsuyoshi, Japan
Monica, (me) Norway

Unfortunately, due to the filming of the World Class tv-show, there aren’t any photos from the final elimination.

Second Round Challenges – Food pairing

Welcome to Ibiza!

Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 5 - Bartending Challenges

It might look all fun and games , which it was, but it was also hot. Insanely HOT!
When we left the ship at 09.00 in the morning, it was already close to 40°C /104 °F – and not much shadow I might add.

Food pairing is can be tricky. It’s all about team work, and when you haven’t worked with the chef before, it can be difficult to get the perfect match.  Chefs and bartenders alike, have their particular style when composing dishes or cocktails. It can be very subtile and gentle or it can be smack-in-your-face flavours. Either or, a successful food pairing is all about the sum of it’s parts – not the parts alone.

When arriving to the Blue Marlin Marina, we sat down and had a tasting of the food. We then selected our two dishes, to which we would create two matching cocktails. After that it was business as usual: 30 minutes to prep, 10 minutes to set up behind the bar and then 10 minutes to prepare and present out drinks for the judges.

For my first drink, I chose the oyster dish. I really enjoyed this preparation, which had carrot foam (if i remember correctly), lime, hint of chill and olive oil. I can’t remember the exact description, but this was the main flavour points. It was very flavourful, and although a little rich, finished off with the fresh, briny flavour of the oyster.

Since it was such a hot and sunny day, I imagined what I would enjoy drinking, and decided to make a spritz to acompany this dish.

Ibiza Spritz
30 ml Don Julio Blanco
15 ml Talisker 10
15 ml Aperol
Splash of soda
Grapefruit and orange slices

Build with ice in a large wine glass.

In hindsight, I should have used more sweetener or maybe some fruit juice to give it more body. It didn’t stand up to the food quite as well as I had hoped.

For my second drink, I went for one of the deserts. The Citrus Explosion, which had segments of fresh citrus fruit (grapefruit, orange), some kind of crumble and a foam, which I unfortunately can’t remember the flavour of.
I wanted to make a stirred drink for this course, since I always enjoy more spirited drinks towards the end of the meal (had this been a dinner).

Family Affair
30 ml Ron Zacapa
10 ml Rosso vermouth
10 ml Campari
10 ml DOM Benedictine
1 dash grapefruit bitter
1 dash orange bitter
Orange zest

Stir over ice, strain into pre chilled old fashioned with ice. Zest the orange peel and serve.

This pairing was much more on the spot, and I was very happy with the feedback from the judges, both on the cocktail itself and the pairing.

After the challenge, we went back to the ship, ready (or not) for the second elimination.

Click on any image to start slideshow

All images by Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Second Round Challenges – Kings of Flavour

And so there was 16.

No time to rest though! After the elimination we went straight into the next challenge.

The second round of challenges had us starting off with the much anticipated Kings of Flavour. This challenge was almost like a two-for-one bar-gain (pun intended), with Whisky Mastery and Sensorium, both extremely fun to do!

I started in the Sensorium, which might be the coolest challenge I’ve ever done in any competition.
Here we were asked to create (in advance) only one cocktail, but the serve should include all 5 senses, that be sound, sight, smell, taste and touch. Some proved to be easier than others. I chose to limit, or remove some of the senses, instead of just adding impressions.

5 senses

My theme for this serve was how the brain creates flavour and flavour memories, which is often quite different from what we think.

I started off with an almost empty bar-top, only a small linen bag containing earplugs and blindfolds for the judges. They were then asked to use both, and when cued, remove earplugs only.

While the judges could neither see nor hear, I started my set up. First I put out a small trey in front of each judge, and filled it with coffee beans. Then I signaled them to remove the earplugs, so they could hear me. While I was talking, the aroma of the coffee beans started to fill the air.

Often when you remove one of your senses, you will find that you pay more attention to the others.  When it comes to flavour, our sense of taste often gets credit for what we experience, however the experience starts long before we ever taste anything.
Sight is often our first sense put to task when eating and drinking, and we often rely on it extensively when determining flavour. “Loosing” it, even for a brief moment will force us to really think and pay attention to what we are experiencing, making more use of our brain.

Our most powerful weapon when tackling flavours is our sense of smell. Far more equipped than our tastebuds, our nose (olfactory system) can detect thousands of aroma compounds, which then will be deciphered by our brain and recognised as different flavours. It is  also the only sense that can ”bypass” our brain, and get an immediate response without us even having to think about it.

Some aromaes are so recognizable, that even if you can’t put a word or name to it, you’ will have no problem recognizing it.

At this point, I asked the judges to remove their blindfold.
As hoped, they had recognised the coffee aromas while blindfolded, and I continued my speach.

Coffee is one of those aromas, recognisable to most, and even those who don’t enjoy drinking it, often enjoys the aroma. It is also one of the flavour notes of Singleton of Dufftown, which was my chosen spirit to work with for this challenge. Another flavour note is burnt sugar/ caramel, which was to be the other flavour I focused on.

At this point, I started to make my drink, Think Twice ( Not a Celine Dion reference by the way).

Think Twice
50 ml Singleton of Dufftown
20 ml Vermouth Rosso
10 ml Moscovado & Cedarwood Syrup
1 barspoon Fernet Branca
1 dash Orange & Mandarin Bitters

Stir on ice, strain into ceramic vessel.

I served the drink in an egg shaped ceramic vessel, cut so that when you approach the glass to drink, your nose is completely isolated from all other smells apart from the drink.  The glass was sitting on top of the tray with coffee beans, making the aroma of coffee very present up until the judges closed in and took a sip of the drink.


Even though there was not actually any coffee in the drink itself, coffee is a big part of the flavour impression of the drink. Even the vessel felt like a coffee cup. In the end, your flavour memories are so much more than what you taste alone – and I hope I managed to get my message across to the judges.

The Whisky Mastery was all about the decks and how to get the best hand.

From a deck of cards, each colour a category of ingredients to work with – fruits,herbs and spices, condiments & exotica, each competitor drew 8 different cards, each representing an ingredient. You could (and should) use as many of the ingredients drawn in making your two drinks.

I’ve always been quite lucky with card earlier, though casinos are nothing compared to the high stakes here. I did draw a strong hand though, depending on how you see it:
Green tea, rooibos tea, passion fruit, orange marmalade, kaffir lime leaf, dried dates, rose liqueur and a french aromatised wine in the style of Dubonnet ( or at least thats my interpretation of it, since no one seemed to know what it was)

As is tradition (iternal joke amongst the competitors thanks to Emil), we got 30 minutes to prep our ingredients, then 10 minutes to prepare and present our drinks before the judges.

When prep time started, the first thing I did, was to try and organize my ingredients into two logical drinks so I could choose my base spirits. I ended up with Lagavulin 16 and Oban 14, with 5 ingredients going into one drink and 3 going into the other.

The biggest challenge for me was to get the dried dates converted into some kind of liquid, that would be tastefull in only 30 minutes.  I decided to add some water and bring them to a boil.  I then added the rooibos tea and sugar, and let it simmer for 20 minutes (ish) while I was doing the rest of my prep.

Next step was to add some boiling water to the green tea, just to open them up, before I strained the leaves off, and added them to the Oban. I sealed everything in a bag and dropped it into the sous vide, making a quick infusion.
Then I sliced open the passion fruit, mixed it in with the kaffir lime leaves, and let it steep for the reminder of the time.

I’ve always loved rose as a flavour in drinks, which is quite strange since I don’t care for the smell that much. However, I found it a bit challenging to work with the rose liqueur given, so I decided to use it as an ingredient for what turned out to be my very own fortified wine.
First I dissolved the orange marmelade (quite bitter) in the aromatized wine, before adding a splash of the rose liqueur. I strained everything through a coffee filter, and voila – done.

Last thing before prep time was over, was to strain off the date and rooibos reduction and add some balsamic vinegar and cool it down. This might be the fastest shrub in history, but it was very tasty!

It was down to seconds, but I managed to get all my prep done – now it was time to make the drinks!

Club Med
35 ml green tea infused Oban 14
15 ml Green Chartreuse
30 ml Passionfruit & Kaffir lime leaf puree
10 ml Lemon juice
Hollowed half passionfruit shell filled with green tea and kaffir lime leafs

Shake with ice, strain into a highballglass with crushed ice. Place the garnish on top with a straw.

By now the sun was setting, on what had been a very long day, and I wanted both my drinks to be a bit “aperitivo” inspired, both in name and flavour. Still, they should be contrasting, so where one was long and refreshing – the other was short and soothing.

East of Eden
45 ml Lagavulin 16
25 ml Aromatised wine infused with orange marmalade & rose
10 ml Date & Rooibos shrub
Dried dates

Stir on ice, strain into prechilled old fashioned with ice.

All competition images by Ian Gavan/Getty Images


We knew it had to come – but still, the first elimination was so nerve wrecking!
The most stressful thing was, during the whole process, you had no idea what was going on.

Basically, this is how it all went down:
They gathered all the contestants in a room and sent us out to face the judges, Spike and Dale, in groups of 4 (None of the groups returned to the same room, so you didn’t know how many had made it through as you walked out).

Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 4 - Atmosphere

Me, Angus, David & Gareth before the judges

Standing before the judges, all sorts of stuff went through my mind, and its funny how you start to question everything you’ve done over the past 3 days. Even though it can’t have been more than a couple of minutes, it felt like forever! By the time Spike announced that we had made it through to the next round, I was ready to pass out – from the nerves, from the heat and most likely, because I was so exited I think I forgot to breathe for a while.

Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 4 - Atmosphere

Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 4 - Atmosphere

Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 4 - Atmosphere

Even though I was thrilled to make it through to the next round, I was also very sad to loose some of my fellow Grasshoppers (the group I was in during the first round of challenges), Stingers and Fogcutters. (the two other groups). During the competition we might have been competing against each other, but that didn’t mean we didn’t have time to become friends.  I had a great time with this amazing group of people, and I’m so happy, now that the competition is over, we will spend the rest of our lives as friends!

Needless to say, it was a very emotional day!

Going from 44 bartenders down to 16 is quite a brutal cut, but of course, at the end of every competition there can only be one winner.
And if you thought this elimination was tough – the second one was brutal! But more on that later

Click on any image to start slideshow

All images by Ian Gavan/ Getty Images

First Round Challenges – Time to Play

They say there’s a time and place for everything, and in this challenge it was time to prove it.

Time to Play consisted of two parts, Time to Create and Time to Party.

In the first part, we were given a bottle of Tanqueray no Ten and a selection of dried fruit, spices, roots and other botanicals – and asked to create our own infusion. The infused T-Ten would then be the base of our Time to Create cocktail.

Time to Create

Lab session for Time to Create. Credits: Tim Judge

To guide us through the lab session we had some expert help from Tristan Stephenson and Thomas Aske of Fluid Movements – really cool!
They showed us some different techniques and methods, before we were off to make our customised Tanqueray no Ten’s.

For my gin, I went with nettle, milk thistle and dandelion, all quite green and bitterish flavours.

Queen High
55 ml Infused T-Ten
15 ml Noilly Prat
1 dash Amontillado Sherry
1 dash Maraschino

Stir on ice, strain into prechilled cocktail coupe.

In Time to Party we were asked to create a cocktail that would evoke the glamour and mystery of a prohibition-era speakeasy, using any glassware, props & bar tools we wanted.My Speakeasy cocktail, Vice Moves, was inspired by one of the defining cocktails of the prohibition era – The Sidecar.

I wanted to keep the same flavour profile as the original cocktail, while using different ingredients.

Vice Moves
50 ml Tanqueray no Ten
30 ml Lemon juice
20 ml Sarsparilla & Geranium syrup

Shake ingredients with ice, strain into a prechilled mini milk bottle with an old school paper straw.


I chose to serve the drink like this because it would make it easier for the judges to either 1) Take it with them or 2) Lie and say it was a Sarsparilla soda if the joint was raided by the police. Prohibition and all…… the word on the ship was that they were out hunting!

Because of the filming of the World Class tv show (due later this year) it was unfortunately very few pictures from this challenge, but I included the ones I have

 Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 2 - Bartending Challenges Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 2 - Bartending Challenges Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 2 - Bartending Challenges Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 2 - Bartending Challenges Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 2 - Bartending Challenges Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 2 - Bartending Challenges Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final 2013 - Day 2 - Bartending Challenges

Pictures by Ian Gavan/Getty Images

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