The Baltic final of the Bacardi Legacy cocktail competition was held in Tallinn on 19 February and won by the best barmen from each of the three Baltic States: Regeri Zoo from Estonia, Juris Ķēniņš from Latvia and Algirdas Mulevicius from Lithuania. All of them will go on to compete in the grand final of the Bacardi Legacy world championships in Australia in May. By a special decision of the jury, three finalists were chosen this year instead of one because of the uniformly high level of skill demonstrated by the competitors.
“Of course I really wanted to win, but getting through to the final still came as a surprise!” said Zoo, a barman at Tartu Meat Market Cocktail Bar. “I love the idea that I could be the next person to carry on the Bacardi legacy, since that’s what the competition’s about. The idea behind my cocktail, which I called ‘Four Seasons’, was to use as many natural flavours as possible, right from the source, like ginger root, lime and freshly squeezed juice from sea buckthorn berries. The inspiration for it was the fantastic and very different seasons we get here in Estonia. There’s one particular ingredient in the drink for every season – the ginger, for example, which I associate with winter, and the sea buckthorn berries with autumn. That said, the cocktail’s designed to suit any time of year and any weather.”
“The last time I was in the Baltic States judging your barmen was three years ago,” said Bacardi Brand Ambassador and jury member Richard Hunt. “It was immediately obvious as soon as I got here that local cocktail culture has come along in leaps and bounds in the intervening years, which is why it was so hard for us on the jury to make our decision! All of the competitors threw themselves into making their cocktails, and it was really interesting to watch their performances. Regeri Zoo made it through for Estonia with his cocktail ‘Four Seasons’ because it surprised us for the choice of ingredients and because of its great and very skilfully balanced flavour, which came across as rather exotic. The use of sea buckthorn berry juice and rum worked really well together, especially given the well thought through story and engaging performance that accompanied the cocktail.”
Fill the shaker with ice and then add the ingredients. Shake carefully before decanting into a chilled glass to serve. Garnish with a dried slice of grapefruit, sea buckthorn berry seeds and shavings of lemon zest.
Of the 12 competitors from the three Baltic States, one from each country qualified for the grand final of the Bacardi Legacy world championships: Regeri Zoo from Estonia with ‘Four Seasons’; Juris Ķēniņš from Latvia with ‘Belgium Avenue’; and Algirdas Mulevicius from Lithuania with ‘DoReMi’. The overall winner of the Baltic final was Ķēniņš, who tends bar in Rīga.
Members of the international jury evaluating the competitors’ professional skills, including cocktail making and presenting, were: Bacardi Brand Ambassador, three-time International Bartender of the Year and also known from Jamie Oliver’s cocktail project DrinksTube, Richard Hunt; acknowledged exotic drink expert and mixologist Daniele Dalla Pola and operations manager of the Grill Royal restaurant in Berlin, Philip Bischoff.
To participate in the Bacardi Legacy competition, all barmen had to create a new cocktail recipe that they have to make and present to the jury within 10 minutes at the competition. The unique feature of the Bacardi Legacy competition is that three months before the competition, the participants introduce their cocktails to the public.
From Estonia, the contestants competing for access to the international Bacardi Legacy championships were barman Regeri Zoo from the Tartu Meat Market Cocktail Bar, barman Karl Astok from the Tartu Meat Market Cocktail Bar, barman Janika Roosimäe from the Olympic Casino and freelance cocktail expert Dima Kalenda. From Latvia, the competitors were Agris Jakobsons, Andris Noreikis, Roberts Kalvans, Edwin Razumov and Juris Kenins. From Lithuania Zygimantas Daukintis, Oskaras Tuba and Algirdas Mulevicius.
The main price of the Bacardi Legacy world championships is travelling for professional training. During those travels the winner has the chance to learn about the success stories of world famous bars and meet top barmen from everywhere in the world to exchange ideas.
Bacardi has hosted the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition since 2008. Nearly 30 talented barmen from everywhere in the world will participate in this year’s final in Australia. AS Liviko, the official importer of Bacardi, organised the local events in the three Baltic States and the Baltic final in Tallinn.
Last year, Angelika Larkina, training manager at the Estonian Bartenders Association, reached the final eight of the Bacardi Legacy world championships with her cocktail Under the Clouds.