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Riga Black Balsam crowns 2018 cocktail competition winner

Cyprian bartender Ioannis Yianni has been crowned the winner of this year’s Riga Black Balsam Global Cocktail Challenge.

Ioannis Yianni from Cyprus was crowned the winner of the Riga Black Balsam Global Cocktail Challenge

The competition saw 30 bartenders from 15 European countries create innovative cocktails using Riga Black Balsam, each hoping to win a slice of the €5,000 (US$5,670) prize fund.

Yianni walked away with the top prize of €3,000 (US$3,400) after impressing the judging panel, which included president of the Finnish Bartenders’ Club Greta Gronholm; The Savoy Hotel bartender Juris Kenins; co-author of the Cocktails for You blog Edvin Rudzinskas; and IBA World Cocktail Championship 2017 winner Mario Hofferer.

Yianni said: “This is the first time that a delegation of bartenders from Cyprus participated in this competition, so our achievement is very good.”

During the contest, each bartender was given seven minutes to create their interpretation of the best Riga Black Balsam cocktail, using either the brands original, cherry- or blackcurrant-flavoured expressions.

Amber Beverage Group global brand director Maris Kalnins said: “Ioannis stood out because I think that he invested a lot of time and energy to work on the details. He used a really original glass that made the first impression really different. Of course, the taste was also developed to perfection.”

Second place was awarded to Stefan Ludwig from Switzerland and third place went to Latvian bartender Olegs Hindogins. Ludwig received €1,500 (US$1,700) of the prize fund, while Hindogins was awarded €500 (US$567).

Raitis Akerblums, president of the Latvian Bartenders’ Federation, said: “I am proud that this year we were able to assemble so many great bartenders, both ladies and gentlemen, to make cocktails with this black Latvian power drink. I am very pleased with the accomplishments of our colleague Olegs, getting Latvia one of the three prize places. This shows that we have world class bartenders in Latvia as well.”

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