Gary! You are one of the newest bartenders here in A&D so tell us a little bit about yourself, how did you get into bartending?
I have been bartending for just over 5 years now and I love it. After studied hospitality at college back home in the Philippines, my first experience in the hospitality world was in the Fairmont hotel in Dubai. I bounced around the hotel in all departments but I really found my niche in F&B, particularly in the coffee bar. From there I became friendly with the head bartender in the property, he was interested in learning the art of coffee and I was interested in learning about the bar and from there my passion for bartending just blossomed. It was really new to me to see someone so passionate about their craft and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
How was your time in the Diageo World Class Competition, can you take us through your journey? What was your favourite moments?
There was a lot of memorable moments through my time in the competition. This was my first major competition in my career so I definitely had some butterflies (laughter.) World Class consists of stages/rounds which apply different skills under pressure to ultimately win, World Class Champion. Changing the format every year and location of the final it really is a lot of fun to be a part of. Round 1 - food pairing and a signature cocktail to get the competition rolling. Round 2 - creating a cocktail based about the concept of ‘future trends.’ Stage 3 - a speed round, bartenders have to complete 10 cocktails in 10 mins of their choice. Round 4 - a mystery box challenge and round 5 - the finalists competing in a one on one pop up Bar challenge. (click on the link to learn more about Diageo’s World Class Competition.)
I got up to stage 3 which for my first time I was quite happy with that. My favourite round was the second-round as I really got to showcase my creativity and I also got my nerves out of the way in the first-round! It is quite intimidating at the beginning knowing the judges are some of the best in the world but once you get your flow the other rounds aren’t as bad, I had more time to concentrate on my speech and creativity.
I prepared a cocktail which was a twist on a classic, the Aviation. (click on the link for the classic recipe) I carbonated the cocktail to make it a champagne style cocktail, as well as using an enzyme called Pectinase to clarify it and eliminate the curbs from the citrus, these are techniques I have learnt through studying Liquid Intelligence, a book by Dave Arnold. It’s a great read to learn about molecular mixology and I thought incorporating this science into the ‘future trends’ benchmark was pretty appropriate. (you can see the recipe for Gary’s cocktail listed at the end.)
I think also one of the best experiences with this competition is the sense of community you create with the people involved. Participating or not, you become like a small family supporting each other and giving each other guidance. We aren’t a very big island so I think it really brought all of us closer as a bartending community and we really are all now rooting for Amba to win title for Cayman! GO AMBA!
Sounds like some mad science stuff to us, it sounds very interesting. Apart of studying where do you get your inspiration from to create such imaginative drinks?
For me it’s always about who will be drinking my drink. I analyze my audience; I knew a couple of the judges where from the Central America region where they are very prominent with coffee production. I love coffee, like I said before it was where I started and where my passion for bartending came from. So, for my signature cocktail on the first-round I wanted to incorporate what I like but also what I think the audience would like so I decided to do a cold brew coffee cocktail. (see at the bottom for recipe) it’s sometimes trial and error, but that’s what makes it so enjoyable.
What would you say you have learnt the most in this particular competition, given it’s the biggest one in the world, what were your challenges? What do you think you will do next time to get yourself into the final?
I have learnt a lot throughout the competition. Each round you learn a lot about yourself, your coping mechanisms, your time management skills and how well you can multitask. In the first-round I really struggled with communicating with the judges as well as making the cocktail, the multitasking part takes a lot of practice. I think after the pressure of the first-round I started to relax a little I wasn’t as stiff, I did a lot of practicing and you know practice makes perfect, ish! (laughter.)
I think for next year I will really prepare in advance. It was my first time in world class so I learnt a lot, many trials and errors but I think for next time I will give myself extended time before hand to prepare my tools and ingredients to make the rounds as smooth as possible and practice, practice, practice!
Should we expect any of your crazy cocktails on the A&D menu soon?
Haha, I hope so! One of the newest cocktails on the menu is something I created back for the ‘All things Gin’ event we hosted back in May, The Lady Zen cocktail. It’s very delicious and quiet complex so you definitely should give that one a try. Our cocktail menu is super versatile there is something for everyone. We aren’t about just your boring old rum punch we want to get your taste buds excited when you sit down at our bar. We love to please our guests with our cocktails, we like to ask questions to assure that the cocktail you are going to experience is right for your palate, whether that’s something we have on the menu or a personalized cocktail.
We’re sure we will be seeing a lot more of Gary here in Cayman and if you haven’t had the pleasure to meet him yet, head on down to A&D this eve and see what he can whip up for you. If you fancy a night in this evening but Gary’s got you in the mood for cocktails, no problem, he’s been awesome enough to share with us some recipes from the World Class Competition for you guys to create them at home! Let your inner mixologist lose tonight, if you’re up for the challenge!
50ml Ron Zacapa
15ml Cold Brew coffee
15 ml Heavy cream
10ml cinnamon cordial
20ml clarified lemon (made with pectinase)
30ml peppermint Cordial
5ml creme de violette
Carbonated with Parlini Shaker