Updated: Mar 29
The Bacardi Legacy South Eastern European finals holds a special place in the heart of Cocktails For You. It was our first gig a company, it was the first time a big company had trusted us with something so important for them such as their international cocktail competition & you can say it was where the Legacy of Cocktails For You as it is now was really born.
We follow the journey of the competitors of Spain, Portugal, Italy & France closely every year & personally we think that the stories of some of these amazing individuals are some of the most relatable & human of the entire competition. The finalists & their supporting cast hang on to every word, every risky moment has us sitting on the edge of our seats & the stories so unique that it is really impossible to tell who would come out on top as champion.
This years finals were set in the Eternal City of Rome & like all the roads we were led to a stage worthy of the grandiose nature of the Bacardi Legacy Competition, it was the 10th anniversary after all! Now the preliminary days are filled with marketing presentations we're not allowed to be witness to, the meeting & greeting of the new members of the Bacardi tribe. Naturally Cocktails For You saw this as an ample opportunity to taste some fantastic Rum.
Once the tasting day was over & our nighttime stagger tour of the beautiful Rome was done & dusted we had to move on the meat of the reason why we were there in the first place. There were 11 eager competitors waiting to take home the Bacardi shaker trophy as well as the coveted title of national champion.
In order of the day were as follows - France, Portugal, Spain & Italy. Thankfully with the Italians know how to celebrate so the evenings proceeding would certainly end with a Bacardi party with remembering. We were broadcasting the entire event over social media after all so we had to get involved.
The French competitors certainly came out swinging with Matthieu Pluta, a second time most promising, kicking off the proceedings as the first competitor on stage with his "Obatalas Mirror" to honour the most powerful "Orisha" or God in Cuban mythology - a zingy sour shaken with pineapple chutney, lime, Carta Blanca, Chartreuse & Angostura bitters. Then we had on stage Jimmy Cessar from Lyon, his approach was to embrace both his French adopted culture mixed with his Madagascan heritage. This all culminated in the cocktail known simply as the Aristocrat combining the Rum culture of his ethnic home with the Champagne culture of his new one. Carta Oro, Champagne, Peach Truffle Salt & Vanilla led to an absolutely delicious marriage!
Third up was Nicolas Goradesky, another mixed nationality case with Greek roots infused with French "X-Factor". His cocktail - the D.N.A. - questioned the intricacies of life as well as what makes us, us. Specifically tapping into what he considers his own D.N.A. & infusing it with the spirit of Don Facundo himself leads to this concoction - Bacardi Ocho, Martini Ambrato & finally St Germain.
The Portuguese contestants were next up on stage & this would be the second time Portugal would be represented in the global finals of the Bacardi Legacy competition. Last year the competition was so close between all the Top 3 as well as being so close to each other they were the best example of what Familia is all about.
This year proved no different, up front & centre was Rafael Silva with his cocktail Equilibrium - Carta Blanca, Coconut Water Syrup, Coconut Yoghurt, Lime Juice & Eucalyptus. Made to celebrate the parallels between the life of his revolutionary grandfather & the life of Fidel Castro.
Fernando Santos followed with his cocktail the Volver, recalling the tales & stories of the establishment of the Bacardi family long before their exile & followed by Gastao Simpa a London trainer but return-to-his-roots Portuguese bartender with is Hanging Bay cocktail.
Next up was Spain with only 2 finalists in the finals to represent this country & arguably the closest contest between the 2 finalists in our eyes here at Cocktails For You. Both were charming, both were charismatic & both both delicious drinks. It is in moments like these that you just wish you could change the rules & bring them both the finals in Mexico.
On one hand you had Joe Lewis White who had previously tended bar at the Savoy Hotel in London & now found himself working in Palma de Majorca. The Salvea cocktail was his representation of his Legacy - Pineapple, lemon, Martini Rubino, Amontillado & Sage syrup as well as last touch of magic the Bacardi Ocho. A cocktail that combines music, art, magic & cocktail as one unified art-form through Joe. Stunning.
On the other hand Emmanuel Otero from Argentina to Andalusia he is another interesting representative of the Spanish Bacardi contestants. His drink the 1300 Millas - Bacardi Ocho, Banana, Pineapple, Clove & Prosecco - 1300 miles is also the distance between New York & Havana that represents the distance between two cocktail capitols of the world during the prohibition period.
Last but not least was the gracious hosts of this years competition, none other than Italy. This was the only country that had a female finalist & probably at the same time the most charming of all the competitors in the evening. She mixed not only ingredients but at the same time attitudes & feelings that we all felt during her thematic trailer. Resilience - Carta Blanca, Red Wine, Raspberry & Orange Syrup, Lime - the only thrown drink of the competition & the most unique combining the use of tannic red wine to give the most unique taste of the evening.