Havana, Cuba
Saturday, 23 August 2014 - 07:42:32 AM
Friday, 14 May 2010

The Grand Prix : Day 4

 
07:50 PM

Bringing the best of Tiki to the bartenders

Bringing the best of Tiki to the bartenders

By Sohini

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07:44 PM

The Mai Tai recipe

The Mai Tai recipe

By Sohini

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07:24 PM

Tasting the lost recipe...

Tasting the lost recipe...

By Sohini

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07:15 PM

A very captivated audience!

A very captivated audience!

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07:10 PM

Cuba : the easternmost polynesian island

Cuba : the easternmost polynesian island

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07:07 PM

Jeff Beachbum Berry hard at work..."

Jeff Beachbum Berry hard at work...

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07:03 PM

Havana Club Grand Prix workshops

Havana Club Grand Prix workshops

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06:58 PM

Art of Japanese Bartending

Hidetsugu Ueno is the owner of Bar High Five in Tokyo, Japan, and a huge exponent of Japanese bartending having travelled around the world over the past few years explaining and demonstrating Japanese bartending styles and techniques. Ueno described his pride at being the tender of the bar – the bartender. In Japan it is a lifelong job, with bartenders in their 60s and 70s still very common.

In his workshop Ueno-san explained how the skills like ice carving and hard shaking are simply techniques, and that customer service is the true key to Japanese bartending.  In Japan huge ice blocks are very common, and the ice ball is not a special item anymore – with ice companies even able to now supply ice balls to bars ready made. 

However the crowd of international bartenders eagerly gathered around as Ueno demonstrated carving an ice ball and his famous ice diamond, using a small knife that is made from the same material as Japanese samurai swords. At his old bar Ueno used to have to prepare 50-60 ice balls every day, and he is now so well practised he can carve an ice ball from scratch in less than three minutes! 

He then demonstrated the various hard shake techniques including the three-step technique by Uedo-san and the two-step technique Ueno used at the bar he used to work at, Star Bar. Japanese customers enjoy the fine ice chips that are left after shaking so Ueno never double-strains his drinks, calling the ice chips his “extra gift” for the customer. Less than ten bartenders in Japan can properly hard shake, and Ueno considers it a very special technique.  
 
Ueno also showed off Japanese stirring techniques, using a drink called the Havana Martini by Japanese master bartender Mori-san who has been behind the bar for over 40 years.  One stirring technique uses alternating fingers to create a stir that involved absolutely no movement in the wrist. Hidetsugu preferred stir on the other hand involves movement of the wrist and thumb, with no movement of the fingers. With stirring he wants to avoid adding any air to the drink, so avoids any excessive disturbance of the ice.

Bartenders left the room miming hard shake and stirring techniques demonstrated in the workshop. When everyone gets back to their bars, I’m sure many will be attempting to recreate Ueno-san’s techniques. 

By Jay Hepburn

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03:30 PM

The Importance of Body Language in Modern Bartending

This year is the first year the Havana Club Grand Prix features a series of workshops to help educate the competing bartenders in the latest bartending and mixology techniques. The workshops kicked off with Andrew Nichols, Amsterdam-based bartender and consultant, on the importance of body language in modern bartending.

Modern bartenders spend a huge amount of time researching the products they stock in their bar, and the history of the drinks they make, all of which are important aspects of a well rounded bartender. However many can forget about the important thing on the other side of the bar – the customers! 

Body language is an important part of providing the customer the best experience you possibly can. Just 5% of the message you give someone comes from the words you use. Movement, appearance, hand gestures, body position and eye contact all influence how people perceive your interactions. It’s not what you say it, it’s how you say it.  
 
Most body language originates from caveman times where safety, food and sexual reproduction were the dominant factors in life. Aggressive body language, such as clenched fists (that could be hiding weapons or a sign of imminent attack), crossed arms (which show you closing off and being defensive) or looking down on someone (which makes your chin large and prominent, a sign of high testosterone) puts people ill at ease and makes people feel uncomfortable.

Open body language on the other hand, for example showing open palms, keeping your torso open and keeping eye contact between the eyes and the mouth, relaxes people and also makes them more open to your suggestions. By ensuring your own body language is portraying a positive image to your customers, and by monitoring their body language to try and anticipate their needs, you can improve their experience as well as the performance of the bar.  
 
However, Andrew was keen to point out that just one negative body language sign may not mean what you immediately think it does. Crossed arms can indicate discomfort, but could also simply mean the guest is cold. Looking for groups of clues that point in a general direction helps remove these “false-positives”. Regional differences are also important to take in to account. Some gestures can mean very different things in different cultures. Open palms are almost universally positive though.

Some may be sceptical about how important some of these things are – however the studies Andrew cited provide pretty convincing proof. In a test where people were provided with the same drink, once by a well dressed bartender who projected a relaxed and confident image, and once by someone “dressed like a tramp”. Every single guest said they preferred the drink served by the well dressed man – despite them being exactly the same. If that isn’t an argument for why taking body language seriously is important, I don’t know what is… 

By Jay Hepburn

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03:05 PM

Soul star Danay, got us all on our feet

Soul star Danay, got us all on our feet

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03:00 PM

Cuban hip-hop duo Ogguere got the party going !

Cuban hip-hop duo Ogguere got the party going !

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02:58 PM

The crowd was mesmerized by Danza Contemporanea"

The crowd was mesmerized by Danza Contemporanea

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02:57 PM

Danza Contemporanea, the outstanding Cuban, troupe took the stage in the Gran Teatro

Danza Contemporanea, the outstanding Cuban, troupe took the stage in the Gran Teatro

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02:56 PM

The evening shifted into high gear with the Havana Cultura show"

The evening shifted into high gear with the Havana Cultura show

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02:53 PM

Marcis Dzelzainis, the grand prizewinner of 2010, took home a silver cocktail shaker and a bottle of Havana Club Maximo signed for him by Maestro Ronero Asbel Morales.

Marcis Dzelzainis, the grand prizewinner of 2010, took home a silver cocktail shaker and a bottle of Havana Club Maximo signed for him by Maestro Ronero Asbel Morales.

By Sohini

3 comments
  • Thursday, 20 May 2010 06:18:04

    Met him when he was learning the trade in Brighton, UK. Already the best.!

    Christopher Wills
  • Wednesday, 19 May 2010 06:43:51

    I tried his cocktails in London at the Quo Vadi on Soho. They are worth the trip. Bravo Marcis

    Guy Coudert
  • Tuesday, 18 May 2010 02:29:27

    The best man won!

    Angela Hurworth
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02:52 PM

And the winner is .... Marcis Dzelzainis!

And the winner is .... Marcis Dzelzainis!

By Sohini

1 comment
  • Monday, 31 May 2010 05:28:02

    Best photo of all: shows wonderful atmosphere of the competition

    Angela Hurworth
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02:51 PM

Who will be the winner ?

Who will be the winner ?

By Sohini

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02:50 PM

A long wait for the results...

A long wait for the results...

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02:48 PM

Ian Burrell tastes Giuseppe's cocktail

Ian Burrell tastes Giuseppe's cocktail

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02:47 PM

15 minutes to create the perfect cocktail!

15 minutes to create the perfect cocktail!

By Sohini

2 comments
  • Wednesday, 19 May 2010 11:03:31

    IL MAESTRO

    fabio brusco
  • Wednesday, 19 May 2010 11:03:31

    fabio brusco
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02:46 PM

Giuseppe Santamaria, Italian barman representing Spain

Giuseppe Santamaria, Italian barman representing Spain

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02:45 PM

Dave Broom : the art of judging a cocktail

Dave Broom : the art of judging a cocktail

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02:44 PM

Claire Harlick felt

Claire Harlick felt

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02:43 PM

Claire Harlick, representing New Zealand, is the third candidate of the competition

Claire Harlick, representing New Zealand, is the third candidate of the competition

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02:42 PM

Tony C. tastes Marcis' cocktail

Tony C. tastes Marcis' cocktail

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02:41 PM

UK competitor Marcis Dzelzainis

UK competitor Marcis Dzelzainis

By Sohini

2 comments
  • Thursday, 20 May 2010 06:19:25

    Gainsbourg would have loved it!

    Guy
  • Tuesday, 18 May 2010 02:31:09

    Wish I could have tasted this

    Angela Hurworth
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02:39 PM

Ioannis Petros Petris - representing Greece - begins the last stage of the competition

 Ioannis Petros Petris - representing Greece - begins the last stage of the competition

By Sohini

1 comment
  • Saturday, 15 May 2010 01:14:39

    well done Yannis,we are proud.

    mel_ioannou
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12:18 PM

The UK's Marcis Dzelzainis Wins the Grand Prize of the Grand Prix

The last leg of the 2010 Havana Club International Cocktail Grand Prix took place last night in the Gran Teatro de la Havana, in the recently restored Sala Alejo Carpentier, a palatial ballroom with clouds painted on the ceiling. Swallows flew overhead during the gala dinner, then the real swallows happened as the three judges for this final contest – Dave Broom, Ian Burrell and Tony C. – solemnly sampled the offerings of the four finalists. The bartenders had 15 minutes to prepare the three signature cocktails that had helped them beat out 37 other semi-finalists in yesterday's competition. In addition, however, last night's contestants were required to prepare a fourth cocktail using a bag of mystery ingredients.
It was a brilliantly fought battle. During the preparations Claire Harlick, representing New Zealand, told us she felt "terrified but I've waited my whole life to be here". Ioannis Petros Petris, representing Greece, said, "I feel like the Greek economy – a disaster". Giuseppe Santamaria, the unflappable Italian barman representing Spain, was as unflappable as ever. In the end, though, it was the UK's Marcis Dzelzainis who emerged victorious. His performance began with a variation on a Honeysuckle he called a Honeycomb. He used Havana Club 3 Años and several other ingredients that required him to name-check Pliny the Elder. His second drink, also relying on Havana Club 3 Años, included double-distilled calvados and chartreuse ("pleasant camomile notes"). Marcis informed the judges that this cocktail was an hommage to Serge Gainsbourg. (Marcis grew up in France, is half English and half Latvian, and thus he is someone with the confused pedigree of the consummate mixologist.) His third drink began with Grade C Canadian maple syrup and a few dashes of bitters and Crema de Mezcal ("very nice vegetable quality"), and finished with a dose of Havana Club 7 Años. Then it was time for Marcis to improvise his fourth and last cocktail of the contest. In the bag handed to him he found green chartreuse, an orange, some mint leaves...."So," he declared confidently, "let's do a variation on a Chicago Fizz."
In addition to the lifetime of glory that goes to Marcis Dzelzainis, the grand prizewinner of 2010, he took home a silver cocktail shaker and a bottle of Havana Club Maximo signed for him by Maestro Ronero Asbel Morales. But the evening didn't end there. Danza Contemporanea, the outstanding Cuban troupe just back from a month-long tour of the UK, took the stage in the Gran Teatro and shook the crowd from its cocktail-induced torpor. Then Cuban hip-hop duo Ogguere, joined by soul star Danay, got us all on our feet.
Congratulations to the contestants, the judges, the organisers and to Havana Club for making this 8th International Cocktail Grand Prix so memorable – and so much fun.

By Randall Koral

3 comments
  • Friday, 11 June 2010 01:44:08

    Thank you, sohini!

    TANAKA
  • Friday, 04 June 2010 09:29:14

    Hello, we will be getting the recipes soon, I'll let you know when I get them - we will probably publish them! Best, Sohini

    sohini
  • Wednesday, 26 May 2010 11:45:24

    Guys, thank you for the great blog on the Grand Prix. By the way, I would like to share the 4 finalist's cocktail names, recipes and how to make, etc., total of 12 drinks (3 kinds of cocktail x 4 persons) to our Japanese friends. It is very important for the Japanese friends to know the winning 4 peoples crafts. If possible, thanks. Thank you and best regards, Hiromasa Tanaka

    TANAKA
    NA
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12:10 PM

the 2010 Havana Club International Cocktail Grand Prix took place last night in the Gran Teatro de la Havana, in the Sala Alejo Carpentier

the 2010 Havana Club International Cocktail Grand Prix took place last night in the Gran Teatro de la Havana, in the Sala Alejo Carpentier

By Sohini

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12:07 PM

Enchanted Evening

The gala dinner and final of the Havana Club Grand Prix 2010 was indeed a truly enchanted evening, the room at the Gran Teatro was stunning! Beautiful painted ceiling with high ceilings and formally dressed white table clothed round tables.

We were greeted by a string quartet and Havana Club models dressed in chic black and red. The ambience was breath taking and Havana Club have managed to invite a group of some of my favourite people in the industry, have been slightly pinching myself throughout this trip that I got to be a part of such a fantastic event.

The judges assembled on stage, Tony C, Ian Burrell and Dave Broom. Mr Duff was our narrator for the evening. I can't imagine the nerves of the contestants having to present in such a grand setting to so many people.

I am personally delighted that Marcus from Quo Vadis in London was announced as overall winner of the Havana Club Grand Prix 2010. Quo Vadis is one of my regular haunts and I've enjoyed many a delicious cocktail at the hands of Marcus. Marcus is the right combination of knowledgeable but humble about his craft.

The evening continued late into the night with fantastic Cuban dances and music, I think there will be many a fuzzy but happy head this morning.

By Emma Davis

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Havana, Cuba
Saturday, 23 August 2014 - 07:42:32 AM
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