Preview: IBA World Cocktail Championships 2017

17th August, 2017 by Nicola Carruthers

Kenji Tsubokura: IBA WCC winner 2016

How has winning the competition had an impact on you and your career?

WCC is the most prestigious event in Japan. It’s the Olympics of cocktails and I was proud to represent Japan. It was a pleasure to meet bartenders from other countries. I felt that not only my work but also my Japanese bartending abilities were highly valued, and I was happy to have every bartender’s support and blessings. WCC 2016 is definitely one of the greatest experiences of my career.

How much preparation had you done for the competition?

I had my cocktail concept for almost a year. I wanted to innovate and create a new taste that expressed Japanese feelings.

What was the most challenging aspect of the competition for you?

I felt that the most important thing was to get everyone to understand the concept of my cocktail. I was inspired by a Japanese proverb, which is ‘treasure every encounter, for it will never reoccur’. The Best Scene portrays two of my wishes. I wanted to provide a precious moment, or memorable scene, in my guests’ lives. Also, I wanted to express the relaxation and beauty of Japanese hospitality, which is about creating a unique and unforgettable moment. For example, Japanese tearooms are designed very simply – there are no distractions, so every subtle detail is noticeable. This makes every experience unique.

What tips can you offer to competitors?

I was clumsy in my 20s. I think in order to win the competition, it is important to accumulate daily research.

What plans do you have for the future?

I would like to repay the Nippon Bartenders Association, which took care of me, and to help raise the next generation of bartenders. I would like to continue creating cocktails that will impress our customers around the world. And, I would like to travel around the world’s bars, too.


Check out Kenji Tsubokura’s winning cocktail on the next page…

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