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Thailand bartender crowned Chivas Masters champion

Bangkok-based bartender Arron Grendon has come out victorious in the global final of the fifth annual Chivas Masters cocktail competition.

Arron Grendon (fourth from left) is the 2018 Chivas Masters Global Champion

Grendon, who hails from bar Tropic City in Bangkok, Thailand, scooped the title of 2018 Chivas Masters Global Champion following a five-day final at the Strathisla distillery in Speyside, Scotland.

His winning cocktail, The Grind, was inspired by Grendon’s mother and stories she used to tell him about how hard farmers in Thailand worked to provide rice and food for people to eat. Grendon related the tale to Chivas Regal founders John and James Chivas, who grew up on a farm. The name refers to pushing yourself to achieve your goals.

The final invited 21 national winners to demonstrate Chivas’ core values of community, collaboration and generosity.

As part of the final, Grendon worked alongside a team of six bartenders to create a sustainable pop-up cocktail bar and menu, featuring community-inspired tipples in keeping with this year’s ‘community’ theme.

He and his team impressed judges with their One Night in Bangkok concept. They were awarded the 2018 Chivas Masters Collective, an award given for “blending exceptional individual skill with an infectious sense of team spirit”.

As winner, Grendon will travel to Tales of the Cocktail 2018 in New Orleans, US, next month, and will also have the chance to travel with Chivas to “inspire” bartenders around the world.

Grendon’s winning Chivas Masters Collective team comprised Angel Solorzano Chumpitaz (Peru), Martin Suaya (Argentina), Kentaro Wada (Japan), Yuta Inagaki (Hong Kong), Rick Marson (Netherlands) and Louis Marcpherson (Australia).

“I love the community in the market in Bangkok that brings together people from all around the world through food and drink – and that’s what I wanted to recreate,” said Grendon.

“My team spent five days together in the run-up to the global final, so I got to know what everyone was good at and how we could work best together. When you have a good team and a good connection, you can achieve anything.”

Arron Grendon, bartender at Tropic City in Bangkok, Thailand

Unforgettable experience

Last year’s UK finalist, Rhys Wilson, hosted this year’s global final. Judges included Matt Whiley, London bartender and founder of bars including Worship Street Whistling Shop; Laura-May Coope, co-founder of Social Life; JJ Goodman, founder of The London Cocktail Club bar group, Craft Cocktail Co and Keystones Cocktail Club; Bea Bradsell, storyteller and daughter of Dick Bradsell (creator of the Espresso Martini and the Bramble).

Richard Black, global marketing director at Chivas Regal, said: “Arron demonstrated originality, skill, leadership and, most importantly, a real sense of community throughout the final week.

“This really shone through when he successfully blended all of the attributes of his supporting team to create a bar experience none of the attendees will forget in a hurry.

“For the first time in the competition’s five-year history we also made our consumers part of the competition, giving them the chance to try Chivas cocktails made by some of the world’s best bartenders and then cast their vote to help crown the winner.”

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