Every year, a group of talented bartenders shake, muddle and stir their way through our cocktail competition to win the title of the global Chivas Master – and this year saw Sebastian Cichowlas from the Netherlands take the crown.
After winning local competitions around the world, 14 finalists came to the UK to undertake a series of challenges and workshops. Challenges included showcasing their take on a classic highball at our distillery in Strathisla following blind whisky tastings and recreating the cocktail that won their local final. After exploring the homeland of Chivas and learning new skills, they created modern classics for the judges in London. The last challenge saw the judges choose three finalists to lead the creation of three pop-up bars, which opened to industry professionals and the public for one night only.
This year’s judges not only reviewed the finalists’ creations throughout the week, but led masterclasses to teach them invaluable skills for their bartending careers. The judges were:
Alastair Burgess – director of award-winning bar Happiness Forgets – which has been one of the World’s 50 Best Bars for seven years – who prides himself on simple, delicious cocktails.
Marcis Dzelezainis – award-winning bartender who has experimented with carbonation for his venue Fare Bar + Canteen, which features an extensive list of on-tap drinks.
Monica Berg – recent winner of International Bartender of the Year who runs P(our) Symposium, which aims to explore experimental bartending ideas with a focus on hospitality.
Alongside Sebastian, the two other finalists chosen for the decisive event were June Baek from Singapore and Gui Ferrari from Brazil. However, it was the Dutch bartender’s fantastically balanced drinks, exceptional skills and entertaining pop-up bar that won him the title at the end of the night.
His neon themed pop-up bar Pirouettes served up two delicious cocktails – a zingy pineapple drink using spicy Chivas Mizunara called Electrolight, and a fizzy concoction called Footloose, with classic Chivas 12 as a base. Donning 80s style sweatbands and neon shell jackets, Sebastian and his team (made up of fellow finalists from throughout the week) proved a hit with the crowd, whose votes went towards the final decision.
Sebastian and his team (Lisander Lara Peña - Dominican Republic, Paolo Silvestri - United Arab Emirates, Vince Smart - UK, and Barbora Švihlová - Czech Republic) will be taking Pirouettes bar to Shanghai in December, where they’ll serve up cocktails at the prestigious Drinks Magazine Bar Awards.
Upon hearing that his bar had won, Sebastian leapt into the air with joy and embraced his teammates. He said: “It has blown my mind. Thank you, Chivas – working with you has been an amazing feeling.”
Rhys Wilson, Global Chivas Ambassador, said: “Every year at the Chivas Masters the bartenders come together and form a lifelong bond – and this year was no different. They worked extremely hard through a jam-packed week, with some of the toughest challenges we’ve ever had. The final teams put together three incredible, unique and vibrant bar concepts with delicious Chivas cocktails, thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. Huge congratulations to the Pirouettes team, led by our new global champion Sebastian!”