New cocktail competition alert: Havana Club is back, with Havana Club Cocktail Maestros
We don’t know about bartenders but the big questions that we always ask ourselves before we align with any cocktail competition, large or small, are these:
- What’s in it for bartenders?
- Why should they take time from their already busy schedules to get involved?
- How does it differ from the plethora of comps already out there?
- Does it excite us enough to write passionately about it?
- If we were bartenders, would we want to take part?
And we’re happy to say that Havana Club Cocktail Maestros gets big, fat happy scores across the board from us. But before we get on to the whys, if you’re thinking the name sounds familiar but slightly different, you’d be right. Having taken time out of the competition arena the former Havana Club Grand Prix is back with a new name, a new format and a whole lot of new reasons for bartenders to get on board.
So, taking it from the top:
What’s in it for bartenders?
In short, plenty. The Havana Club Cocktail Maestros is a brand-new concept which listens to exactly what bartenders really want from a competition. In fact, Havana Club polled bartenders, took their comments on board and acted on them, which means this could be the competition you’re looking for.
So, obviously being a cocktail competition, there are drinks to be made but with the new format comes an emphasis on fun, camaraderie, diverse challenges and education for everyone taking part. And for those who win their nationals, those key elements get ramped up to the max in a trip of a lifetime to Cuba for the global final. Oh, and as well as incredible bragging rights, there’s a cheque for the very healthy sum of €10,000 up for grabs.
Why should bartenders take time from their already busy schedules to get involved?
Apart from the above? Growth, stimulation, creativity, culture, connectivity – shall we go on? There are so many reasons the Havana Club Cocktail Maestros gets the thumbs up in our book. Perhaps the most important is the focus on education and the objective to amplify cocktail and hospitality mastery. As any career-minded bartender will tell you, these elements are integral whether they aspire to raising their game behind the bar, looking to open their own business or transition to a brand ambassador role.
How does it differ from the plethora of cocktail comps already out there?
Rather than working in silo, bartenders are invited to collaborate with a member of their bar team, which is a bonus in our book – two heads are always better than one, right? The aim is to spark creativity, form discussion and learn from each other at each stage of the competition.
For the first round ‘Liquid Harmony’, bartenders will be working together in teams of two to create a cocktail featuring two homemade ingredients*, as well as submitting two photographs for the entry stage – one of their final cocktail creation, and another of their team. For the teams that make it through to the national finals, their cocktail making, relationship and hospitality skills will come into play even more, so choose wisely folks!
Does it excite us enough to write passionately about it?
Well, the answer to that one is right here: hand on heart, it honestly does. We love the fact that this is a team focused competition. For us, collaborations are where the true magic happens – we can’t wait to see how two individuals work as one during the course of the competition. There will be balancing strengths and weaknesses, building each other up and calming one another down, there will be laughs, growth, support and there will be all manner of learnings. Not to mention some amazing drinks along the way.
If we were bartenders, would we want to take part?
Absolutely! Not only is there prize money, a travel experience for European teams to London for an additional heat, and a four-day trip to Cuba, the birthplace of Havana Club, where they will fully immerse themselves in all kinds of colourful, musical and magical Cuban culture; there are the lessons to be learned from The Maestro Sessions. These four, hugely inspiring films are informative, engaging and entertaining, focusing on:
i) Liquid – with Maestro del Ron Cubano, Asbel Morales and Global Brand Ambassador Alfredo Guerra, who will lead an exploration of Havana Club’s rich cultural heritage, discussing the brand history, intricate production processes and the connection the island has with the liquid, as well as tips on creating the perfect Havana Club cocktails.
ii) Flavour – with Global Ambassador Liam Holyoak Rackal and iconic chef Naz Ramadan to explore food trends, flavour and creativity. They will also be showcasing a virtual cooking demo perfectly paired with Havana Club Añejo 7 Años.
iii) Hustle – with bar duo Emilio Di Salvo and Keïla Urzaiz de Calignon from Satan’s Whiskers who will teach entrants on the makings of a great team, with tips and tricks on how to hustle and sharing advice on how to tackle the team focused entry challenge.
iv) Expression – with one of our fave drinks photographers, Lateef Okunnu. He’ll be revealing the secrets behind the art of drinks photography, demonstrating the art of how to capture strong imagery for the final cocktail creations (integral for the entry challenge), as well as showing his approach to creative expression.
Interested? Come on, you know you want to! Here’s how to get involved:
• Choose your team. You both need to work at the same venue (which must operate as a cocktail bar or have a standalone cocktail menu). You will need to apply on behalf of your bar.
• You and your fellow bartender and bar must follow the Instagram link on the call-to-action video or via the Havana Club website: havana-club.com/en/havana-club-cocktail-maestros
• Bar teams have to sign up and enter all necessary personal details of each participating team member. A confirmation email will then be sent to both participating team members with competition and The Maestro Session details.
The entry challenge:
Once you’ve been inspired by, then cogitated and digested The Maestro Sessions, you’ll have all the background information and skills you need to get to the fun part: the creation of your cocktail.
Here’s where you’ll be tasked with creating a drink that represents your team, which must combine Havana Club rum. Whether that’s Havana Club Original 3 Años, 7 Años, Especial, or the coveted Selección de Maestro – and two homemade ingredients – one from each team member – within the final creation.
The ingredients, like your team, should be beautifully balanced and play together nicely, particularly as you’ll have to give a reason for why each of you has gone for your individual ingredient to create a harmonious cocktail.
With Lateef’s Expression expertise on board, you’ll need to take and submit two captivating images: one of your cocktail creation (featuring Havana Club Rum bottle); the other which captures the unique personality of your team.
The Drink – including your cocktail name
The two photos – one of the drink, one of the team
Dates: Get your entries in between 20 November 2023 and 15th January 2024.
- Collaboration and teamwork is at the heat of this competition so each team should consist of 2 bartenders per team
- All entrants must hold a valid passport for international travel, including Cuba
- Both team members must apply on behalf of their bar and must work at the same venue Said venue must operate as a cocktail bar or have a standalone cocktail menu
- Team venues are not required to stock Havana Club