Jennifer Le Nechet has been crowned the world’s best bartender at the climax of the global cocktail competition WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year 2016 in Miami.
The French bartender, usually found crafting drinks and charming customers behind the bar at Café Moderne in Paris, wowed the judges by creating a spectacular range of vibrant drinks at her Steampunk themed pop-up bar.
Nearly 10,000 bartenders from all over the world entered the competition, with 56 selected to represent their country at the Miami finals. An elite group of six made it through the final round which saw them conceive and create a pop-up bar in just 24 hours. Each challenge showcased a different skill from the bartender’s armoury: technique, personality, spirits knowledge and how well they perform under pressure.
Selecting top brands from Diageo’s Reserve portfolio including Ketel One vodka, Cîroc, Don Julio, Tanqueray No TEN, Bulleit, Zacapa rum and Johnnie Walker Blue Label Blended Scotch Whisky, the bartenders crafted classic cocktails and created their own recipes. They also went up against the clock to mix up to fourteen quintessential drinks in just 10 minutes.
Jennifer Le Nechet, the first female bartender to claim the title, said: “I’m completely blown away – it’s such an honour to take home the title of World’s Best Bartender – especially when competing against such talent from around the world. This week has inspired me to continue pushing the boundaries of flavours and to explore how all the senses can be engaged through cocktails. I can’t wait for the experience ahead!”
Le Nechet is set for a whirlwind year of adventure – she will have the chance to travel the world as a Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador, judging competitions and making bespoke drinks in far-flung locations.
Alex Kratena, former Head Bartender of Artesian London said:
“The standard this year has been absolutely phenomenal. It’s been just so difficult to choose between these bartenders. Jennifer just nailed it in the Superstar Pool Party showing all the skills you could want in a bartender, and her pop-up bar blew us all away with its cool Steampunk theme and twist on classic cocktails with homemade emulsions, cola and organic ingredients. These bartenders really are at the top of their game and the five runners up were worthy contenders. Not only can they pull off all the classics flawlessly, but they are developing new and exciting techniques every step of the way.”
Johanna Dalley, Global World Class Director said: “This week has been a whirlwind of creativity, flair and amazing talent – truly raising the role of the bartender to be on a par with that of the world’s leading chefs. And that’s what WORLD CLASS is all about, inspiring people to drink better and appreciate great drinks in the same way they appreciate great food. The final six were exceptional and it was an extremely close final, however we’re delighted to name Jennifer as our winner and our first female WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year.”
At the Awards evening, Mexico City was also revealed as the location for the WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year Global Final 2017.
Dalley continued, “This year, WORLD CLASS will take cocktail culture to a new level in Mexico City, and there could be no better place for this, since for many years, this city been developing into one of the most vibrant capitals for food, drink and culture.”
WORLD CLASS is on a mission to inspire people to drink better and shape the future of drinking, whether at home or in the bar. If you have been inspired to drink better, visit theworldclassclub.com or the WORLD CLASS Facebook community, where you can find delicious recipes, how-to videos and get the low-down on the latest trends.
Awards should always be taken with a grain of salt. Is the film that wins the Academy Award really the best picture of the year? Was Shakespeare in Love really better than Saving Private Ryan?
Although the most prestigious awards do lend some measure of objective credibility to the winners, ultimately it's still a subjective process. This is especially true when the decision makers (aka "the voters") are limited in number. And when the decider is just one person…Well, you'd better hope that his preferences are the same as yours.
That being said, awards can still be interesting and informative. Awards give us something to think, talk, and argue about. They can give us inspiration to seek out the winners, even if it's only to see if we agree or not. Awards give us a starting point to begin our investigation and discussion.
Just because something wins an award that doesn't mean it's the best. But if it's a reputable award, it does give us some indication that the subject in question is worthy of merit.
So, without further ado, the envelope, please!
Buffalo Trace Distillery has made history in the whiskey industry with not one, but two Whiskey of the Year Awards from esteemed whiskey reviewer Jim Murray. In the newly published 2013 Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible, the Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye was named “2013 World Whiskey of the Year” and the William Larue Weller was named “Second Finest Whiskey in the World.”
The coveted number one and two spots were the result of Jim Murray tasting over 4,500 whiskies, in route to publishing his annual Whisky Bible. It is the first time in the book’s ten year history that both the number one and two whiskies in the world have come from the United States, much less the same distillery.
About the Thomas H. Handy, Murray says, “This is enormous….Once off the ground it just doesn’t stop traveling. Superb!” A 97.5 (out of 100) rating.
The praise doesn’t stop there; for the second place William Larue Weller, Murray says, “WOW! This is becoming a must experience whiskey for hardcore bourbon lovers. Well, whisk(e)y lovers period, really! Majestic! Or, as it’s American, perhaps I should say: Presidential.” Also a 97.5 (out of 100) rating.
In regards to deciding between the first and second place, with both whiskies earning the same score, Murray says, “This was a very tough call to make on which of the two deserved top billing. Although from the same distillery they are very different animals. The enormity of the Weller was so apparent…I knew from the very first taste that it stood every chance of being World Whisky of the Year.
“But it was eclipsed by the Thomas Handy Rye, even though they both scored the same number of points. The Rye edged it, by the smallest of fractions, simply because of its extraordinary life and balance on the palate and its uncanny ability to just keep working on full alert for the longest imaginable time. It took a couple of days to decide between the two, but the Handy could not be denied.”
In addition to the number one and number two finest whiskies in the world, Buffalo Trace Distillery also earned an astounding 35 additional awards from Jim Murray, including Bourbon of the Year for its William Larue Weller; Rye of the Year for its Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye; Rye 11 Years or Older for its Sazerac 18 Years Old, and a host of Liquid Gold Awards, which are given only to those whiskies which score a “94” or higher, which is considered, “superstar whiskies that give us all a reason to live,” according to Jim Murray.
Amongst those whiskies from Buffalo Trace Distillery that received Liquid Gold Awards were George T. Stagg; Buffalo Trace Bourbon; Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15 Years Old; Old Weller Antique 107 and Single Oak Project Barrels 63, 14, 132, 33, 61, 164, 191, 81 and 167.
“We were blown away when we heard the results from Jim,” said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller, “To have one ‘Best Whiskey in the World’ is wonderful. To have the number one and the number two spots is just amazing; we’re very proud of our team here at Buffalo Trace.”
The 2013 Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible can be purchased at the Buffalo Trace Distillery gift shop, among other places, or online at www.whiskybible.com.
I have yet to have the pleasure of tasting George T. Stagg bourbon, but it is almost universally acclaimed as outstanding.
For the second year in row, George T. Stagg, the iconic uncut, unfiltered bourbon released annually from Buffalo Trace Distillery, has been named the number one spirit in the world by noted spirits reviewer F. Paul Pacult.
The list, compiled annually by Pacult, will be released in his June 2012 issue of The Spirit Journal. Last year, George T. Stagg was the first American Whiskey to ever be named number one in The Spirit Journal’s 13 years of tabulating. Stagg knocked off the perennial favorite Highland Park 18 Scotch Whisky for the first time ever, and this year the Stagg beat out a Northern Highlands Single Malt Scotch.
Notes Pacult about this year’s winners, “Spirits are continually getting better and more sophisticated each year. It’s no surprise to us that three of the top five spirits in the world hail from Kentucky, which right now is one of the hotbeds of distilling prowess.”
The George T. Stagg Bourbon Whiskey is part of the Antique Collection that is released each fall from Buffalo Trace Distillery. Long considered the frontrunner of the Collection, the Stagg has collected numerous awards over the years, including the 2012 Bourbon of the Year; the 2012 Second Finest Whiskey in the World from Jim Murray’s 2012 Whisky Bible; 2012 Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition; 2011 Ultimate Spirits Competition Chairman’s Trophy Winner; 2011 Double Gold Winner, Best Bourbon, San Francisco World Spirits Competition; the 2010 American Whiskey of the Year from Jim Murray’s 2010 Whiskey Bible; 2009 Bourbon of the Year and Best Bourbon Aged 13-17 Years from Jim Murray’s 2009 Whiskey Bible; among others.
The 2012 version of the George T. Stagg will be released later this fall with the Antique Collection. Suggested retail pricing of the Stagg is $69.99.
A poll was taken of 100 bar professionals from around the world to produce a list of the world's 50 best bars. Obviously lists like this are a little silly. Such things are subjective and prone to cronyism, and also vary depending on the respondent’s criteria and state of inebriation. Still, I love a good list, so I'm sharing it with you.
Note: I haven't been to any of these bars. And that makes me sad.
Here are the Top 10:
1. PDT, New York 2. Connaught, London 3. Artesian, London 4. Death & Co, New York 5. Milk & Honey, London 6. American Bar at the Savoy, London 7. 69 Colebrooke Row, London 8. Drink, Boston US 9. Harry’s New York Bar, Paris 10. Black Pearl, Melbourne, Australia