Diageo Lebanon crowned a new champion mixologist following a spirited competition between six professional bartenders in the final round of the Diageo World Class Competition at Iris Beach. The Lebanese competition, which showcases the highest level of bar mastery, has become one of the most anticipated annual events for the country’s restaurant and hospitality industry. The event hosted the esteemed judges Dennis Zoppi, World Class 2012 Italy Champion and Abdou El Asfar, World Class 2012 Morocco Champion, in addition to Lebanon’s most notable nightlife industry personalities, VIPs, aspiring mixologists, and members of the local media.
After three rounds of competition, 350 contestants were narrowed down to six: Jad Ballout from Garcia’s, Joseph Antoun from Lei, Elio Oueiss from MAD, Sebou Tato from Iris Lounge, Sarkis Akelian from Garcia’s and Alain Achkar from Mandaloun. These finalists battled to test their knowledge, professionalism, creativity and distinctive palate in four challenges: a written knowledge assessment, a mixing test, a pairing test, and the signature cocktail test.
Garcia’s noteworthy bartender, Jad Ballout, took the lead with his exceptional Tanqueray Ten gin-based cocktail to win this year’s title as Lebanon’s Best Bartender. He will go on to represent the country at the World Class Competition’s global final in Barcelona.
Renowned judge Dennis Zoppi complimented the contenders, stating “As a bar industry professional, seeing such talent and creativity is truly inspiring, and they were each able to really capture the true essence of the profession, bringing out the bright and bold flavors of Diageo’s reserve brands.”
The 2013 international competition will be hosted aboard the boutique luxury cruise ship, the Azamara Journey, from July 4th – July 9th. While travelling the Mediterranean Sea, the ship will stop in the celebrated cities of Ibiza, St Tropez, and finally drop anchor in Barcelona. Jad Ballout will join 49 other international competitors to compete for the title of the Diageo WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year. The international event is globally respected as the world’s largest and most credible mixology competition, highlighting some of the world’s most prestigious reserve brands.
Joe Nazzal, Diageo’s Regional Reserve Brand Ambassador, explained, “This is the World Class Competition’s third year in Lebanon, and Diageo is incredibly pleased with just how well the Lebanese contenders have performed in the past. But this year’s contestants are truly amazing and we look forward to seeing Jad Ballout on board the Azamara Journey showing the world Lebanon’s cultural flair for exquisite taste and elevated mixology skills”.