After mixing off against the region’s most talented bartenders in three grueling workshops, Assaf Yechiel (of Cape Town) and AJ Snetler (of Port Elizabeth) have emerged as the best of the best in the Western and Eastern Capes, respectively, earning top marks in the Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year regional finals.
Held throughout the year, the regional workshops – concluded on May 27 – put contestants’ mixology skills to the test in a series of challenges measuring speed and efficiency as well as their ability to reinvent the classic Bloody Mary using Ketel One Vodka. Competition was stiff during all stages, but Yechiel and Snetler held their own, employing creativity and craftsmanship to score big in every category.
“Being named the best bartender in an entire region is no small accomplishment. It’s a testament to the tremendous skill of both contestants. An achievement like this carries all the prestige and status afforded any other professional in the food and drinks industry,” said Alex Farnell, national Reserve brand ambassador manager.
Yechiel (of Orphanage Cocktail Emporium) and Snetler (of Soho Fushin Lounge) will now go head to head with their counterparts from Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in the national finals, to be held in Johannesburg on July 14 to 16.
They will be joined by wild card finalist Steven Saunders (of Johannesburg’s Michelangelo Hotel), who had among the highest scores following the regional workshop, as well as the other regional winners from Gauteng (Dom De Lorenzo and Tom Savage) and KwaZulu-Natal (Jody Francis and Trace van der Merwe).
One champion will then be chosen to represent the country in the World Class Global Final, being hosted in Cape Town and Johannesburg in September.
For the first time in the World Class competition’s seven-year history, Africa will welcome the best mixologists from 57 countries as they vie for the title of Bartender of the Year 2015. Previous years’ host cities have included the likes of Rio de Janeiro and London.
The Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year is the largest and most prestigious event of its type, aiming to elevate the skill and craft of the bartending profession and set global trends and standards in the service industry worldwide.