Chivas Regal, the world’s first luxury whisky, has revealed the 15 national winners who will compete to be crowned the 2017 Chivas Masters Global Champion, at the Chivas Masters Global Final taking place next month in Tokyo.
Now in its fourth year, the 2017 Chivas Masters Global Final (1st – 5th July) will focus for the first time on the celebrated traditions of Tokyo’s bartending scene – whose unique cocktail customs continue to fascinate and inspire bartenders across the world. Throughout the week, the contestants will take part in a number of individual and team challenges, and will need to showcase both exemplary bartending skills and team spirit to impress the judges.
The 15 finalists, who have each excelled in their national competitions running across four continents, will be hosted in Tokyo by Masahiro Urushido, the first ever Chivas Masters Global Champion. They will be mentored by a distinguished panel of internationally-acclaimed judges, who will share their expertise through a series of inspirational masterclasses. The panel comprises:
- Iain Griffiths, hospitality industry pioneer and co-founder of Mr Lyan Ltd;
- Micah Melton, beverage director at the Alinea Group (Aviary Chicago & NY) and renowned ‘ice chef’;
- Chris Lowder, spirits evangelist and ‘New York’s Rising Star Bartender 2015’ (StarChefs);
- Dré Masso, ex-director of bars for the Potato Head Group in Bali, Jakarta, Singapore and Hong Kong; worldwide Cocktail Mentor and spirit creator
- Rogerio Igarashi Vaz, owner of Tokyo’s Tram & Trench, celebrating the modern interpretation of Japanese bartending
Max Warner, Global Brand Ambassador for Chivas Regal, comments: “Our 15 national winners have already hugely impressed us with both their skill and character, but there’s still much more to do if they want to be crowned our 2017 Chivas Masters Global Champion. The values of community, collaboration and generosity lie at the very heart of this competition, and successful participants must not only impress a world-renowned panel of judges, but demonstrate that they embody these values every step of the way.”
The Chivas Masters cocktail competition is built on Chivas’ belief that great bartending is measured not only by the achievements of an individual, but by the ability to work in harmony with others. The ultimate winner will not only impress with their individual bartending skills, but – crucially – will also prove their ability to work collaboratively with an international bartending team, and inspire others to achieve shared success, through the Chivas Masters Collective team challenge.
Max Warner continues: “I cannot wait to put our contestants through their paces in Tokyo, and see who will walk away with the 2017 title – and beyond that, watch as they, together with their Chivas Masters Collective, take what they have learned to further develop and inspire their bartending communities back home.”
The 2017 Chivas Masters Global Champion will be decided on the evening of Wednesday 5th July, and will win an all-access, all-expenses-paid trip to Tales of The Cocktail 2017 in New Orleans. The winning Chivas Masters Collective team will walk away with the pinnacle of the range, Chivas Regal The Icon, presented in a bespoke decanter with customised Japanese glassware.
Meet the 2017 Chivas Masters Global Finalists
Sandra Šalatová (Czech Republic)
Prague’s Sandra Šalatová has already achieved the remarkable feat of qualifying for the final by winning her first ever major competition – the Czech Republic regional heat. Sandra now has her eyes firmly set on a new first, becoming the first ever female Chivas Masters Global Champion.
“So far I would consider my biggest achievement to be reaching the final, competing alongside some of the greatest bartenders in the world. I’m going to go one better in Tokyo, as I hope to be crowned the first woman to win the Chivas Masters.”
Ryan Nightingale (Hong Kong)
Representing Hong Kong, Ryan Nightingale loves the variety of bartending, experienced both through the drinks that he makes, and in the exciting mix of customers coming through the door. With plentiful experience of crafting his own creations, Ryan takes his greatest enjoyment from watching his customers enjoy what he has worked tirelessly to perfect.
“The constant aim for perfection is a cornerstone of the Japanese bar community. I’m heading to Tokyo ready to gain a better understanding of this, which I then hope to express in my final serves.”
Atsushi Suzuki (China)
Having started bartending as a means to an end as a 17 year old, China’s Atsushi Suzuki’s work behind the bar has rapidly developed into a career that has enabled him to travel the world. Runner-up in 2016’s Chivas Masters China heat, Atsushi went one better in 2017, and now has his sights set firmly on Tokyo.
“Teamwork and respect are definitely a must to run a bar well. But for me the most crucial aspect to bar work is the desire to learn.”
Masato Sakurai (Japan)
Masato Sakurai first encountered cocktail-making after the tragic passing of his grandfather, devoting his time to craft his skill as a bartender to help him deal with the grief. As a proud son of Japan, and with the hometown support fully behind him, Masato is hoping to honour his grandfather’s faith in him by being crowned the 2017 Chivas Masters Global Champion.
“I am obviously determined to be crowned Chivas Masters Global Champion, however the greatest experience that I can take away from the final will be the brotherhood that I will gain with my fellow finalists.”
Benjamin Boyce (United Arab Emirates)
Like many of this year’s finalists, Benjamin Boyce’s first experience of bartending was a chance encounter, which has blossomed into a fruitful and impassioned career. For Benjamin, the key to success for any bar team is the application of the three Ts: training, teamwork and trust.
“The Chivas Masters is an amazing opportunity to learn from the experiences of different bartenders, all coming from a wide range of countries and cultures, to experience Japanese culture, and to have a lot of fun while doing so.”
Hyacinthe Lescoët (France)
Parisian Hyacinthe Lescoët thrives amidst the pressures of his craft, providing everyday creativity in a socially demanding and highly competitive environment. But above all else, the greatest value that Hyacinthe finds in bartending is achieving the appreciation of those around him.
“Great bartending is all about passion and sharing. Once those are instilled in your work, the rest will flow.”
Wouter Bosch (The Netherlands)
Winner of the regional final in The Netherlands, philosophy graduate Wouter Bosch’s love for bartending centres upon the memories and experiences that his drinks create. Rather than be the star of the show himself, Wouter’s bartending style is all about letting the drink do the talking.
“Nothing is as rewarding as having people coming up to the bar and telling you that you’ve made their night. I’m inspired by that, and hope to create many lasting experiences for my guests.”
Adam Schmidt (USA)
Representing the USA, New York native Adam Schmidt enjoys mixing his sense of humour into his drinks. Having previously spent time exploring Barcelona’s vibrant cocktail scene, Adam can’t wait to get out of his comfort zone again in Tokyo.
“What inspired me to be a bartender? As a youngster I had a part-time job dishwashing in a local bar. To me it always looked like the bartenders were having the most fun. I was right.”
Rhys Wilson (United Kingdom)
An actor by trade, the UK’s Rhys Wilson’s bartending style stems from his belief that performance on the stage, and that behind the bar, are not too dissimilar. Rhys is already looking forward to all that he can take away from the experience in Tokyo, especially having the opportunity to collaborate with his fellow finalists.
“A great bar is not just about what’s in the glass, it’s about the whole show. I love taking care of my audience and putting on a great show for them.”
Aloisek Rodríguez Martínez (Cuba)
Winner of the national final in Cuba, Aloisek Rodríguez Martínez is a bartending purist. The art of mixology is Aloisek’s greatest passion, allowing him to showcase his creativity and share the pride that he has for his culture.
“A great bar team is one in which everyone is working for the same purpose and vision, making each individual bartender a complement of the other.”
Abner Barrientos (Puerto Rico)
Having originally taken up bar work to support his studies, Abner Barrientos’ perfectionist qualities were realised through bartending, soon transforming into a passion for the trade. Abner’s flexible and open outlook to his work has enabled him to embrace new cultures and perspectives from all of the customers that he has served on his bartending journey.
“As a bartender, every day is a challenge, however every challenge should be viewed as an opportunity to grow and develop.”
Patryk Biadacz (Poland)
Poland’s Patryk Biadacz place in the final is the culmination of ten years of hard work crafting his bartending skill. Patryk’s passion for the trade stems from his love for every aspect of bar work, and he is eager to prove that in Tokyo
“Just like the mixing of cocktails, a perfect balance of ingredients is crucial to a great bar team.”
Daniel Huggins (Germany)
As Germany’s representative in the global final, Daniel Huggins’ love for the craft of cocktail-making is cemented by his passion for hosting – forever seeking to provide the perfect experience for his customers. For Daniel, the camaraderie and respect found within bartending is what makes it so special.
“I want to be known as a bartender with empathy and expertise, always willing to turn your evening into a great experience.”
Roger Grüter (Switzerland)
Hailing from Basel, Roger Grüter is dedicated to perfecting his craft as an expert cocktail-maker, a dream that he hopes will come true in Tokyo. Roger is looking at the final as an opportunity to enhance his bartending skills, taking away all that he can from the much-revered Japanese culture.
“Attentiveness and authenticity are key ingredients to the cocktail experience. I always work to ensure that my guests leave happier than they came.”
Haydée Barron Flores (Mexico)
With dreams of being considered an ambassador of Mexican bartending, Haydée Barron Flores’ love for her work comes from the creativity that it allows her, and then having the opportunity to share her creations with others and witness the moment that the drinks create first-hand.
“In learning my craft I believe that I have learnt more about myself, my flaws and my strengths. It has all lead me to this moment – the chance to represent my country in the Chivas Masters Global Final.”