Belgian bartender crowned Bacardi Legacy 2017 winnerBy Annie Hayes
Ran Van Ongevalle from Belgium triumphed in the final of the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition 2017, held in Berlin, Germany, this week.
Hailing from The Pharmacy in Knokke-Heist, Belgium, Van Ongevalle battled 37 bartenders to secure the top spot with his cocktail Clarita – comprising Bacardi Gran Reserva 8 Años Rum, Amontillado Sherry, crème de cacao, absinthe, and saline solution.
Following in his father’s footsteps as a bartender and Bacardi Legacy competitor, Van Ongevalle’s drink took cues from ‘heritage, family and tradition’; blending ‘a family of flavours’ in the manner of a Maestro de Ron.
Made “with inspiration from the past, knowledge from the present and dreams about the future”, Clarita impressed grand final panelists Maestro de Ron Bacardi José Sanchez Gavito; New York bartender Julie Reiner; Japanese bartender Hidetsugu Ueno; and last year’s winner, Gn Chan.
Addressing the audience at the live final, held at E-Werk, Reiner praised the standard of entries: “We’ve seen eight amazing performances and tasted eight incredible cocktails. This was a really tough one for all of us.
“Last year I was invited to judge Bacardi Legacy and I didn’t think it could get possibly get any better, but I think [the competitors] really raised the bar from what we saw last year and I’m so impressed.”
Marking the ninth edition of the competition, bartenders, industry luminaries and global press were flown to Berlin, Germany for the semi-final and grand final instalments.
The grueling semi-final, which took place in front of a live audience and was streamed online, saw bartenders present two cocktails in seven minutes to Monica Berg, of Oslo’s Himkok; Klaus St. Rainer of The Goldene Bar in Munich; Tristan Stephenson of Purl and Worship Street Whistling Shop; Franck Dedieu, Bacardi Legacy 2015 winner; and global rum ambassador Ian Burrell.
For the first time, bartenders were permitted to use Bacardi Ocho as well as the the brand’s flagship Bacardi Carta Blanca and Bacardi Carta Oro rums.
In addition, competitors were tasked to complete a five-month promotional campaign for their drink ahead of the competition, which was judged by Melissa Frank, VP marketing Bacardi Europe; Enrique Comas, trade advocacy senior manager Latin America; Ryan Chetiyawardana aka Mr Lyan; and Sandrae Lawrence of The Cocktail Lovers.
“When I was a bartender coming up in this industry these kind of competitions didn’t even exist,” Reiner added. “The ability for [competitors] to travel broadly, and to see what’s happening, and be trained by people like Ueno-san and everybody else here is incredible and I’m so happy that is the direction our industry has gone.”
The runners up of the competition were Grace Tsai from Taiwan with Apóstol, and Kentaro Satoh from Japan with Mariel.
The Bacardi Legacy 2018 final will be held in Mexico City. Bacardi will work with Van Ongevalle over the next year to provide career development opportunities and support and garner worldwide recognition for his drink.