Cuba is a country renowned for its cocktails.Thus, it will come as no surprise to you that Havana is the home to the the bi-annual ‘Club International Cocktail Grand Prix’ competition. This event, which takes place on the even years ie. 2016, 2018 and 2020 and so on, now attracts many of the world’s best cocktail makers.The competition itself is one of the world’s most prestigious and sponsored by the International Bartenders Association (IBA). Previous winners have included the world famous cocktail maker Julien Escot from France and Gianalberto Alessandrini from Italy.
Forty-eight cocktail makers from over thirty-five countries entered the 2014 competition, the event finally won by Andy Loudon from London, for his suitably named ‘Jose Marti Especial’. Judged by a professional panel of fifteen, which included some ex-winners such as Julien Escot, Loudon reported being completely overwhelmed by his achievement and seeing it as the highlight of his career.
If entering, you are allowed to use your own equipment such as your own cocktail making equipment and glasses. You then have to produce three new and original cocktails over a ten minute period and the rules state that each of the three must have a certain ingredient.
The rules go one step further and are quite an interesting addition. The cocktail-maker must engage the audience in conversation, as one would in a real bar and serving customers. The scoring works on a points system for a number of set criteria, including the taste, look, creativity of the drink and the approach and style of the barman. It is really a great all-round test for the cocktail makers and a great social event for drinkers and makers alike, in what is more like a cocktail family atmosphere, albeit a somewhat competitive one for some.