The New Yorkers: Bartender of the Year Jeff Bell
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the United States Bartender’s Guild and Diageo World Class: Bartender of the Year competition. Thousands of applications were submitted, hundreds of cocktails were created, and twenty finalists were selected. Jeff Bell and Julio Cabrera made history when they tied for first place during the competition. Both bartenders had to compete in a “Shake Off” during the winner’s ceremony. A Shake Off is where finalist have 7 minutes to prepare their “perfect serve” cocktail for judges.
Diageo Bartender of the Year: Jeff Bell
“I want to thank Julio, he is an exceptional mixologist that truly deserves all the recognition in the world. I am so excited to be a part of this unbelievable program and to represent the U.S. in the Global Finale,” said Jeff. “The USBG and Diageo World Class program is an experience that elevates the art of the cocktail by pushing the limits of mixology as we proved last night. I am truly honored to be among the twenty finalists and extremely humbled that the cocktail luminaries chose my skills to represent the United States in the global competition.”
Jeff Bell will represent the United States (but more importantly New York) during the finale this July to win the global title of “Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year”. He will travel aboard the Azamara Club Cruise ship from July 4-10 to compete against forty-nine worldwide bartenders. The cruise ship will sail along the Mediterranean coastline with stops in Nice, Monte Carlo, St. Tropez, Ibiza and Barcelona. Jeff will be judged by international cocktail luminaries, and against the best bartenders in the world.
Now back to the Winner’s Ceremony in which I was one of the guest. I truly was delighted to be in attendance. Some of Diageo’s prominent brands were represented: Bulleit® Bourbon, CIROC® Vodka, Johnnie Walker® Blended Scotch Whisky, Ketel One® Vodka, Tanqueray No. Ten®, Tequila Don Julio®, and Zacapa® Rum. Attendees got to experience the various brands in different ways including on the rocks, neat, or in cocktail version. My personal favorite brand was the Tequila Don Julio® in which, I had a drink called the “Continental Drift” which was a crowd favorite. I am almost embarrassed to say that I had 3, loll.
Another highlight was me getting to briefly speak with master beverage experts Gaz Regan and Dale Degroff. They were the coolest lushes I have ever crossed paths with, lolll. These two provided the comic relief during the ceremony. As they stood on stage, I made the comment, “Wow, I wouldn’t mind going drinking with them one night”… in which one of the guest replied, “You wouldn’t make it past the first round”. Sadly enough… I believe they were correct- I am not worthy.
For additional information about the program and for upcoming competitions, visit DiageoWorldClassUSA.com. Join the conversation by following @WorldClassUS on Twitter, use the hashtag #CocktailChallenge and visit facebook.com/WorldClassUS.
The USBG is the largest network of professional bartenders in the U.S. who come together to share the craft of mixology. With over 60 years of presence in the United States and International coverage in affiliation with the International Bartender’s Association (IBA) in over 50 countries, the United States Bartenders’ Guild is setting the standard for the profession throughout the country. With the resurgence and increasing popularity of the cocktail, there is a high demand for creative and professional bartenders. As an industry leader, the USBG is responsible for educating its members about current trends while encouraging them to start new ones. For more information, visit www.usbg.org.