Friday, 12 July 2013

And the world cocktail 'Oscar' goes to Spanish bar tender

David Ríos, who owns and runs a café with his brother in Barakaldo, in Spain's Basque Country, has become the first Spaniard to win the prestigious and coveted Diageo Reserve World Class competition.

The competition is thought to be the "Oscar of Cocktails" and the biggest prize in mixology. At the end of the competition, which featured 15,000 hopeful bar tenders in 50 countries, 37-year-old Ríos was last man standing in the Diageo Reserve World Class 2013.
This year saw the sixth final in the competition, which took place on board the luxury Mediterranean cruise ship Azamara Journey. Local TV channel 20Minutos has a video showing Ríos at work winning the event.
Diageo Reserve quotes Ríos as saying: “I am thrilled and humbled to be awarded Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year amongst the incredibly talented group of bartenders at the Global Final. I have been truly inspired this week by the unequivocally high standards and limitless talent at the Global Final. I look forward to the year ahead, traveling the world as an ambassador for the program, meeting my peers, educating new talent, and learning about new cocktail cultures and trends around the globe."
He told 20minutos that he got started "a little bit accidentally" when he was just 18 and the bar where he worked hosted a cocktail party. However since then, he has worked as a sommelier in Michelín 2-starred restaurant Mugaritz and as maître d' in the Michelín-starred Sheraton Hotel in Bilbao, now run by the Melia hotel group.
The creation that got him the big prize was "el Ponche de Oro Vasco" ('Basque Gold Punch'), which is a technically demanding cocktail of Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve whisky, pineapple juice, grenadine and soda, adorned with an orange slice, anise and mint.
"My creations are based on classic cocktail-making, but with some modern touches," explained Ríos.
According to Diageo Reserve's Spike Marchant, “Diageo Reserve World Class 2013 was a closer-fought battle than we’ve ever witnessed before, particularly as some of our newer markets had advanced such a lot. But there could only be one winner and David Rios stood above the rest of the 43 finalists. His cocktails and appreciation of flavor were consistently outstanding, his technical precision was jaw-dropping, and he maintained his composure under extreme pressure. Throughout, his strength of personality shone through, reflecting the best traditions of bar tending.”

Ríos normally works at Café Kobuk in Barakaldo, in Spain's Basque Country, with his brother and fellow owner, serving up breakfasts, coffees, beer and, naturally, cocktails. He apparently also displays his art as a barman in Bilbao's "The Jigger Cocktail".

Ríos was planning to open a new establishment in Bilbao, but these plans will have to be put on hold, as he embarks on a year-long global tour as ambassador for the Diageo Reserve brand. At the same time, he will be starring in a TV show, to be aired in 100 countries, showing the best moments from the mixology competition. This month, a brand new guide book, featuring his cocktail creations, will be available on sale.

To the source: