Johannesburg mixologist, Iki Mbelle, was the winner of the regional final of the Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year 2013 at Taboo Nightclub, Sandton, earlier this week, in which the city’s best mixologists went head to head to shake their creative blends.
Mbelle who works at Greenside’s Gin Restaurant was crowned the winner of the regional championship and will represent Gauteng along with runner-up, Philip van den Heever from Harlequins/Baracas in Pretoria, in the national finals of the competition to be held in Durban later this month in a bid to become South Africa’s WORLD CLASS representative.
Using only the finest liquids and exceptional ingredients, Diageo Reserve’s WORLD CLASS competition has come to be known as the World Cup of the cocktail world.
The South African winner of the national final in Durban will then compete against international winners in July at this year’s international final aboard the luxurious “Azamara Journey” cruise liner as it travels along the coastline of the Mediterranean, stopping at some of the world’s most desirable destinations.
The Gauteng WORLD CLASS regional final included six rounds to find the best of the bar with challenges including cocktail mastery, testing the bartenders’ general bar knowledge, a tropical journey exploring exotic flavours and an exciting retro chic creation, putting a modern day twist on a classic cocktail.
Iki Mbelle took honours in several of the cocktail challenges and after a grueling afternoon for all the contestants, was crowned the ultimate winner.
“I'm passionate about the performing arts and, for me, bartending is an on the spot performance! What makes for a good cocktail? Balance & Concentrated flavour profiles,” says Iki Mbelle.
Since its launch in 2009, WORLD CLASS has enjoyed unprecedented success to become the world's leading, most prestigious luxury drinks training programme and not only elevates the craft of bartending but has become a global leader for setting cocktail trends with winners instantly being propelled into the global limelight.
“It was an exciting regional final and we look forward to seeing Iki compete in the national final against regional winners Johan Blaauw from Cape Town and Haroon Haffajee of Durban at the end of the month,” says Dominic Bothner, Diageo Reserve’s National Category Development Manager.
Elite judges for the WORLD CLASS national final in Durban will include Ryan Duvenage of the Barcode Bar Academy who has been ranked as one of the finest global bartenders, Travis Kuhn of Pure Bar Studios who is an architect of the South African National Flair Champion, globally renowned culinary genius and recent “Master Chef South Africa” judge, Pete Goffe-Wood, as well as Tim Etherington-Judge, acclaimed global ambassador for Diageo Reserve Brands.
Find WORLD CLASS South Africa on Facebook: www.facebook.com/WorldClassSA