About 600 members and supporters of the International Bartenders Association were treated to an exhibition of extreme bartending skills during last week's finals. The coveted title of the World Cocktail Champion was the aim for the 450 representatives of more than 50 countries.
First up were the 6 Flairtending finalists from the USA, Bulgaria, Spain, Russia, Czech Republic and Poland, each performing aspectacular 5-minute routine . Elbows, ankles and foreheads were all used to flip, spin and launch bottles and shakers through the air. Last year's defending champ, Marek Posluszny from Poland was a definite favourite with his Carrot Star Flairtending cocktail routine and sense of humour. His slow motion insert was impressive but not enough for him to retain the title. Another front runner after the preliminary rounds was the Russian competitor Alexander Shtifanov, but in the end it was Spain's Leonardo Galvez who put in a polished performance that won him gold for best Flairtender of 2014. Posluszny from Poland landed a second place with Czech Republic's Vaclav Abraham in third place.
On the mixology side, fifty-eight cocktail contestants gave it their best during a full-day programme yesterday. Five category winners were
selected in the afternoon with Poland in first place for the Before Dinner Cocktail, Estonia in first place for the Sparkling Cocktail, Slovak Republic as winner of the Fancy Cocktail, Korea as winner of the Longdrink and Denmark as winner of the After Dinner Cocktail. South Africa's Cocktail Champion Kurt Schlecter, did very well and received a bronze medal in the After Dinner Cocktail round. These 5 category winners then competed in the Super Finals, including the winner of the Flairtending Competition from Spain, for the overall grand title. Estonia, Slovak Republic and Korea's finalists were all women.
The cocktails were judged on aroma, appearance, taste and overall impression of the drink. It was the Slovak Republic's Jana Karkusova who was crowned as the World Cocktail Champ of 2014 with her Fancy Cocktail called Geisha. Her ingredients included Lychee liqueur, Almond flavour, Toffee Nut flavour, cranberry and lime juice.
The elected country for 2015 is Bulgaria. Newly elected IBA President, Ron Busman, commended the South African Bartending Association, chaired by Etienne Schlechter, for organising and hosting this prestigious international event.