We’ve spent the past several days in San Francisco to observe the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition, in which 37 of the world’s best bartenders competed for the coveted title. Last night, in front of a crowded room and a formidable judging panel, the USA’s Gn Chan took home the title.
Originally from Taiwan, Chan now calls New York City home and plies his trade at Angel’s Share, a speakeasy-style bar hidden in the back of an East Village Japanese restaurant.
Having worked his way through the rigorous competition to represent the United States, Chan then had to impress a panel of semi-final judges, who whittled the competitors down to eight. From there, Chan and the seven other finalists–hailing from Australia, Belarus, China, Israel, Norway, Thailand and the UK–had to recreate their drinks in a new setting and in front of new judges, including Dale DeGroff and Bacardi’s Maestro de Ron, José Sanchez Gavito. They were scored on factors like aroma and taste, presentation, cocktail name, inspiration and potential for longevity.
Chan’s cocktail is called Venceremos (Spanish for “we will overcome”) and is composed of Bacardi Superior, coconut liqueur, pineapple juice, cucumber juice, lime juice and a dash of sesame oil. In addition to crafting his drink live for the judges and audience, Chan showed a brief video (below) and then had seven minutes to tell his story and explain the inspiration behind the drink. So beyond just keeping his hands steady and perfectly executing his cocktail, Chan–and every other competitor–was as much performer as bartender.
Now in its eighth year, the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition drew thousands of entries from 45 countries during the year-long national rounds that culminated in last night’s global final. Over the last seven years the competition has given birth to several modern classics like last year’s winning cocktail–Le Latin by France’s Franck Dedieu–and Maid in Cuba from the UK’s Tom Walker.
Judge Dale de Groff had this to say about the winning drink: “It was a unanimous decision tonight to name Gn Chan the winner. The drink he made was compelling to him and to us because he took the Piña Colada as a base–a Bacardi drink and a Puerto Rican invention; but this was a version of the Piña Colada only in spirit. The pineapple flavor is very delicate, and then there is cucumber juice which worked really well with a touch of sesame oil.”
Last night, Chan added: “Right now it doesn’t feel like this is real, but hopefully it will sink in by the morning. “I have been mentored by a bartender and in a bar that both have a deep relationship with Bacardi, so this has always been the competition I wanted to win.”
Next year, the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition will travel to Berlin. And as evidenced by the past few years, we can expect thousands of entries pared down to dozens of drinks and probably a few new countries represented on the roster of finalists.
Below is the recipe for Gn Chan’s winning cocktail. And below that, you can check out his video to learn more about the bartender, the drink and the story behind both.
45 ml Bacardi Superior
15 ml coconut liqueur
25 ml pineapple juice
15 ml cucumber Juice
5 ml lime juice
1 dash sesame oil
Shake and strain into a hurricane or rocks glass. Garnish with pineapple leaves.