USBG, IBA Announce World Bartender of the Year

The United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) and the International Bartenders Association (IBA) announce today that Sweden‘s Andrew Watson has been crowned World Bartender of the Year at the IBA World Cocktail Championship.

The competition, sponsored by Havana Club, Campari Group, Luxardo and many others, held November 4-9 at Meliã Internacional Hotel in Varadero, Cuba, drew more than 90 participants from across the globe, including competitors from 64 countries. Participating bartenders competed across three rounds showcasing classic bartending techniques.

As champion, Watson will serve as IBA Ambassador in 2023 and attend the 2023 IBA World Cocktail Championship as honored guest with his winning cocktail:

Rooster’s Pride
●      3.5 cl Rooster Rojo Reposado Tequila
●      4.5 cl Clarified Coconut Tincture (homemade)
●      8 cl Cinzano Prosecco
●      Served in the RCR Timeless Calice Flute

Said Watson, “I’m so proud to bring home this prize for Sweden. Varadero has been incredible meeting  my fellow competitors and experiencing Cuban hospitality.”

Concurrently, Poland’s Kacper Smarz secured the title of WCC World Flair Bartender of the Year with the highest combined technical and cocktail score in flair bartending.

Competing from the United States were 2022 USBG IBA Classic Champion Dean Tran of Orange County, CA and USBG IBA Flair Champion Mariano Gil, Jr of Brownsville, TX.

Said USBG Executive Director Aaron Gregory Smith, “During this first competition back since 2019, the bartenders and delegation of the IBA demonstrated the resilience and warmth of the global bartender community. The talent and innovation presented at the WCC this year leave us inspired and excited for the coming year.”

IBA President Giorgio Fadda added, “The Asociación de Cantineros Cubanos has gone above and beyond with hospitality these past five days and we give special thanks for the incredible service of the Hotel Meliã Internacional. The competitors are among the most impressive I’ve seen in recent memory. Gracias, Cuba!”

How it works:
●      Competitors from IBA member countries compete in national competitions throughout the year for the honor of representing their home at the World Cocktail Championship.

●      In the first round of the IBA World Cocktail Championship, participants compete in one of five cocktail divisions: long, sparkling, pre-dinner, after-dinner, and for its inaugural year – low alcohol. The top three finalists in each division then compete in a speed round challenging their ability to deliver a round of top-notch classic cocktails with just a few minutes on the clock. Competitors are also required to test their sensory and bartender knowledge in a practical examination.

●      The top four finalists are then invited to prepare a cocktail blending the inspiration from home and host country.

●      The final four present their cocktails to the entire world delegation at the gala dinner while presentations and cocktails are judged by a select panel. The 2022 panel included Julio Bermejo, creator of the Tommy’s Margarita in San Francisco, USA; Giorgio Fadda of Italy and President of the IBA; Don Rafa Malém President of the Asociación de Cantineros Cubano; and Andris Reizenbergs, of Latvia, winner of the 2019 IBA World Cocktail Championship.

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