Forty-eight hours of cocktail-making challenges came to a theatrical conclusion on Wednesday evening, as three finalists unveiled their signature pop-up bars in the lobby of Anchor & Den. All were vying to represent Cayman at the global ‘Olympics of mixology’ in Berlin this autumn.
Fede Gisbert Johnson, who is normally found mixing cocktails at Seven Mile’s Backroom Bar, emerged victorious with his Heavenly Garden bar. After narrowly missing out on the top spot in 2017, this year’s win was all the sweeter for Spanish-born Fede.
Giving him a run for his money were The Ritz-Carlton’s Adam Slobodian, whose travel-themed bar came complete with a motorbike and destination-inspired drinks, and Macabucu’s Micah Jensen, who wowed with a giant inflatable unicorn DJ ‘booth’ and tropical tipples.
The brief for the bars was ‘the five senses’. As well as assembling and decorating their pop-ups in only 24 hours, each contestant had to create three original cocktails.
Fede’s included a chocolate-laced twist on an Old Fashioned and an apple and elderflower concoction. Adam made use of local sorrel in a delicious blackberry, basil and bourbon cocktail, and muddled pineapple, rum and maple syrup to make ‘Sons of Daquiri’.
Micah’s ranged from the ‘Mosune’ with Tanqueray, orange and juniper bitters and cucumber, to the refreshing ‘Winds of Change’ combining rum, local mango, fresh mint and ginger beer.
The judging panel included last year’s champion Amba Lamb of The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, and Diageo Brand Ambassador Rafael Reyes.
The previous day, a larger group of contestants had been put through their paces with a ‘Cocktails Against the Clock’ speed round and mystery box challenge at Cracked Conch Macabuca. Ten talented bartenders were whittled down to the three finalists.
Fede will now prepare to travel to Berlin in October and mix against the world’s top bartenders.