How to mix?
Aylin ÖNEY TAN“How to mix?” will be sole problem tonight for 16 young bartenders in Istanbul. Mixology is the art of cocktail making, and the best of the best mixologists in Turkey are competing to punch their ticket to a final competition in London. Since April 2, a total of 200 bartenders have been competing for regional rounds to be among the world finalists to represent Turkey at the Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS™ Global Finals. Launched in 2009, the Global Final is an internationally recognized platform and mark of distinction for mixology, simply referred to as the “Oscar of Bartenders.”
Now in its sixth year, the competition finals are back in Britain, after starting in London in 2009 and touring the world in places like Rio de Janeiro, New Delhi, Athens and a luxury Mediterranean Cruise. This year the Bartender of the Year will be crowned in London, after a journey of mixing and shaking starting from Scotland, and then making all the way down to London in a special buzzy boozy train ride. The event will take place between July 28 and Aug. 1, 2014, and it will surely be a landmark week in the luxury calendar.
The Global Final will be judged by the world’s most respected mixology cognoscenti and attended by trendsetting editors, renowned bar owners and a selection of guest judges who are also renowned craftspeople in their fields. Diageo Reserve competitors are synonymous with sophistication and impeccable service. They are the most innovative bartenders that keep pushing the boundaries of contemporary and experiential cocktail culture with tradition and modernity. The Global Final will see the 50 best bartenders in the world compete in a series of innovative challenges staged around the country that will tell stories of places, people and provenance.
The selection process of the best of best mixologists is a year-long journey. The regional rounds are phenomenal too; this year, the British finalist had eight semi-final competitors, with four selected to compete for a final round to challenge on a luxury flight from London to Hong Kong. The winner, James Fowler of The Larder House, Bournemouth, not only had a story to tell, but also music incorporated into his cocktails, playing British pop songs that shaped the world music.
The stakes are high. Last year’s winner, David Rios, was the bartender for the legendary Mugaritz Restaurant in Spain. Though Turkey is competing for the very first time, there was one Turkish competitor last year, Atalay Aktaş, alas representing Germany, not Turkey. His inspiration comes from the multicultural and friendly vibe of Kreuzberg, the predominantly Turkish neighborhood in Berlin where he has been a life-long resident. Now he pursues his passion in his own bar Schwarze Traube, with drinks based on whatever is best at the market on that day, very much like a local restaurant in Provence.
Tonight we’ll see who will be the winner for Turkey. Now mix, shake and pour yourself a drink. Let your dreams go wild and travel through the world with top drinks from the World Class. Here is guide with the winner’s choices from 2013: http://definitivedrinkingguide.com/tagged/world+class+50+2013.
Bite of the week
Recipe of the Week: My recipe is an almost savory Pink Martini with a Turkish twist. I had the inspiration from an article in Scientific American which gave me the idea that tannin rich sumac can be very good for a mouth-puckering extra dry martini. Infuse one part of sumac in two parts boiling water for 10 minutes, let cool and let stand overnight or longer. Strain and keep cool in a screwed bottle. Use this sumac infusion instead of vermouth in your usual martini recipe, add a final splash of şalgam (fermented turnip juice). My suggestion: 4 parts Tanquearay No:10 + 1 part sumac infusion + few drops şalgam to taste (or salt). Decorate with a shish kebab of alternately skewered olives stuffed almonds and red peppers. Enjoy warmly roasted Siirt pistachios to go along and listen to Pink Martini.
Hotspots of the Week: Sixteen bartenders from 14 top bars are competing for World Class. Needless to say, they’re most talented, and all have gone through extensive training by Diageo experts. For an adventurous bar hopping night-out go to those places, look out for them and ask for their competing cocktails: Esra Çakır -The Bar; İsmail Mutlu & Tolga Çobanoğlu - Mikla; Doğukan Ateşok - Sırçacı 14; Bülent Sefer - Dream; Kemal Soysal - Lucca; Uğur Tekebaş - Morini; Samet Uysal - Four Seasons; Selahattin Karagöz - Raika; Tolga Aslan & Engin Yıldız - Zuma; Soner Sekman - Tom’s Kitchen; Yücel Yıldız - La Boom; Tamer Aslan - Cantinery; Erdem Özer - Parle; Onurcan Gencer - Flamingo.
Cork of the Week: For cocktails with a twist of history, head for the Orient Bar at the historic Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah. Their new cocktails are inspired by the building’s own history and its iconic past guests. You can have a selection of cocktails with names indicating their source of inspiration: “Diplomat’s Favorite,” “Respect to Hemingway,” “Mystery of Agatha,” “Spirit of Kings,” “Sultan of Orient,” “The Last Shot at the Orient Express,” “Beyond the Bridges,” along with one for the road with “A Farewell to Pera.”