Each year Chivas Regal’s cocktail competition brings the world’s best bartenders together to battle it out for the title of Chivas Masters Global Champion. This year, the fifth year of the competition, all the action took place in the UK. The five-day final returned to Chivas’ roots at the Strathisla distillery in Speyside, the home of Chivas, followed by 3 days in London experiencing the world’s biggest cocktail scene.
This year saw 21 bartenders from all over the globe showcase not only their mixology skills, but also their teamwork and Chivas’ core values of community, collaboration and generosity.
Over the five days, the finalists enjoyed various tastings, team bonding activities and workshops; all with the themes of sustainability and community at the heart.
Starting the week off in sunny Scotland, the team found themselves trekking in the highlands and foraging with a Ghillie followed by a ‘Live Off the Land’ challenge back in London with Matt Whiley founder of Scout bar where the finalists had to use their newly-found skills in foraging to create cocktails from waste ingredients.
The finalists also had to create and present their own cocktails to the judges before the final event.
This year’s judging panel was made up of an impressive cast of drinks industry legends:
Matt Whiley - ground-breaking London bartender behind an impressive list of award-winning bars, including Purl, Worship Street Whistling Shop, Dach & Sons, Talented Mr Fox, Peg + Patriot, and Scout.
Laura-May Coope - social media superstar and co-founder of Social Life – the premium social media agency for entertainment brands.
JJ Goodman - globally recognised personality and thought-leader in the world of mixed drinks. Goodman is also the Founder of The London Cocktail Club bar group, Craft Cocktail Co. bottled cocktails, and Keystones Cocktail Club.
Bea Bradsell - storyteller and daughter of Dick Bradsell – the Soho cocktail expert who created the Espresso Martini and the Bramble.
The top three finalists, Filip Jančárek, of the Czech Republic, Arron Grendon from Thailand and French finalist Louis Lebaillif were announced the night before the final, with each of them getting the chance to pick their teams for the final challenge.
The Final Challenge
The three teams of 7 were challenged to create a pop-up bar inspired by the sense of community and generosity of the competition, using sustainable props and ingredients. The bars had to be created and ready to serve the public in 24 hours at the final event in London with the budget of only £2,500.
With plenty of camaraderie and a real sense of teamwork, each delivered an amazingly creative bar. We had The Broken Bench from Louis’ team, Brotherhood from Filip’s team and One Night in Bangkok from Arron and his team. Each with their own unique take on the challenge, creating sensational cocktails to match.
After combining the attendees votes with judges marks, the winning team was announced. Led by Thailand finalist Arron comprising of Angel Solorzano Chumpitaz (Peru), Martin Suaya (Argentina), Kentaro Wada (Japan), Yuta Inagaki (Hong Kong), Rick Marson (Netherlands), and Louis Marcpherson (Australia). They created One Night in Bangkok, a pop-up bar that brought Bangkok market stalls to London for the night. From the eastern-inspired cocktails through to the smallest of details, including waving cats, the bar really embodied the bustling, welcoming vibe of Thailand and combined with the energy and close-knit community of the team, it was clear to see why the judges were so impressed.
Arron Grendon Chivas Masters Global Champion said,
"I still feel like it was a dream but the whole experience was just amazing! I’m so glad I got to meet all these amazing people and share this experience with all of them. The love and support we all had for each other just shows how strong our community and brotherhood can be."