Robin Honhold from the Lucky Liquor Co. in Edinburgh, has secured a place in the UK final of the global bartender competition, Diageo Reserve World Class. He beat fellow Scottish bartenders Michael Braun of Panda and Sons; Mike Lynch, of the Devil’s Advocate; Euan Halliday of Tigerlily; Russell Downie of Tonic and Matt Wakeford, Missoni to secure the his place.
Other contenders who also go forward are Matthew Soares from Cloud 23 in Manchester, Nathan O’Neill from Milk and Honey in London and James Fowler from The Larder House in Bournemouth. The four bartenders now proceed to the next stage of the competition and are one step closer to the global final.
Diageo Reserve launched this year’s competition with introductory and educational forums across the UK in October, after which all those who attended were invited to submit their cocktail recipe to the judges. Mystery shoppers were sent to observe each entrant, ensuring their bartending skills extended to a high level of service, as well as fantastic drinks. The panel of expert judges, made up of drinks journalists and Diageo Reserve brand ambassadors including Andrea Montegue and Deano Moncrieffe, were then tasked with agreeing which of the talented contestants would go through to the UK final.
Imaginative cocktail recipes included the Engine Room from Robin Honhold which comprised Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve mixed with ingredients such as grapefruit oil and a homemade violet tincture, to create an incredibly well balanced drink with interesting flavours, served in branded bottles with a glass on the side.
Deano Moncrieffe, Diageo Reserve brand ambassador and World Class judge, said, “Competition this year was incredibly tough. To win World Class is the ultimate accolade for a bartender so they really pull out all the stops and we’ve seen some incredible talent that is really pushing the boundaries of expert bartending and fine drinks in the UK. It’s shaping up to be an outstanding year and we have some real potential in the UK to see our bartenders go far in the competition.”

A second burst of UK activity in March will see further introductory forums take place in Glasgow, Liverpool, London and the south, with the second burst of regional finals taking place in May. One bartender from each of the heats will then compete in the UK finals, with the overall winner joining the most esteemed bartenders from around the world to contest the ultimate accolade of World Class Bartender of the Year at the Global Final in July 2014. The global final is held in an incredible location somewhere in the world, which in the past has included India and Rio. The 2014 global final location is yet to be announced.