Make use of the mirror – what you can see is what the judges see.
With the country finals soon upon us the World Class Judges are on-hand to offer you clever hints and tips on how to carry off the ultimate title of world’s best bartender.
No matter which of the challenges the competitors face, the primary focus is the excellence of the drink. Without a great drink the rest becomes so much less important. All your cleverness and creativity must begin with the contents of the glass.
Be unexpected: the element of surprise has been an excellent hook to grab judges in the past. Judges see so many talented professionals that the element of surprise can be the winning detail. It’s what the judges may remember, speak about, and eventually use as the criteria to award first place.
Commit fully: present a complete experience for the judges. You must live in the world of each different challenge completely. Immerse yourself from your appearance to your demeanour. Like an actor you must believe in the event you are presenting so fully that the judges will follow you into the experience willingly.
Mine a rich vein of humour: day after day challenges can lull the judges into a sense of tedium and it is your job to grab them – metaphorically of course – and shake them out of that place. Make them take notice. Inject humour into your challenges to show the judges that you don’t take yourself too seriously. By contrast, though, you must simultaneously show them that you take the drinks very seriously.
Know your audience too. Do some research on the judges, so that you know something about the people you are presenting to: what they drink, what they are known for, where they worked. And finally, if you work in a t-shirt at your bar, remember this is not your bar and your appearance during the competition will be part of the criteria the judges use to reach their decision.
Even with the language barrier David was a natural. His attitude was always warm and friendly, even inviting. His style was sophisticated, but he was the first to have a bit of a laugh at himself when called for. Bar style, drinks, garnish and taste were nearly always perfect. Finally there was a maturity about him that immediately put you at ease when he walked over to serve. You felt there was no need to worry because this person was a pro.
To come anywhere close to winning the finals in World Class, it’s essential to do well in every single round. Anyone who thinks that, if they ace a few rounds, they can sail through the rest as long as they do okay, is fooling himself or herself. I judge many bartender competitions during the course of a year, and this one is most definitely the toughest of them all. Remember, only the very best of the best get to call themselves World Class.
David Rios not only scored well in every single round of the 2013 World Class Finals, but he also had an endearing quiet confidence that shone through as he made drinks and kept us entertained. It made him stand out from the crowd.
The first and most important thing is to relax and enjoy the experience. Second, make use of the mirror – whatever you see is what the judges (who act as the knowledgeable customers) also see. Make sure you do your homework so that your style and professionalism will come across. You should be as creative as you can. Try to go the extra mile because that will be recognised and scored accordingly. On a technical and hygienic note, read and be familiar with the International Bartenders Association rules and regulations because these are high quality professional standards (even if they are not applicable in every day life). When it comes to the cocktails, remember not to make them too personal. Make sure you have a chance to appeal to the majority of the judges, and pay attention especially to the balance of the ingredients. Not one ingredient should overpower the others. And finally, learn as much as you can from your peers.
Make sure you come back next week to read part 2 of the World Class Judges’ advice!