TGIFRiday’s Philippines takes cocktail flair and finesse to the next level at the 21st edition of its annual bartending championships
Not only excitement hung in the air, but also bottles, cocktail shakers, and glasses at this year’s edition of TGIFriday’s Philippines much-anticipated bartender championship. The recently held 21st Shake, Rattle, and Pour grand finals saw eight of TGIFriday’s best bartenders duke it out at the final challenge, the Freestyle Round, in a bid to take home the coveted Propeller (a symbol of that which drives and pushes TGIFriday’s forward), the title of nationwide Bartending Champion, and the chance to represent the country at the Asia-Pacific Bartending Championships, to be held this October in Taiwan.
Four ladies and four gentlemen, a mix of newbies and veterans, with interesting monikers such as “Noisy Boy,” “Mystique,” “The Mockingjay,” “The Bump Guy,” and “Kickass” took to the stage to impress judges and the audience with their flair for drama and for bartending. Contestants raised the bar – quite literally – as they showed off their best, most breathtaking skills, set to catchy beats and pulsating music. As an added treat, last year’s champion, Rizza “The Apprentice” Umlas performed with coach and Asian Champion, Rev “The Revolution” Bacasno, in a special tandem flair sequence.
At the finals, each contestant was judged based on three tests of bartending brawn: the Pour Test, their competency in accurately pouring the right amount of liquor, sans the use of any measuring tool; the Prep Test, the precise cutting of garnish and accuracy in prepping mixes; and the Speed Round, their ability to make drinks accurately and efficiently within the fastest possible time. Contestants likewise had to work within a specified, highly stringent time restriction, as well as wow the judges with their composure, creativity and chitchat.
Competition was as fierce as it was friendly – with each bartender throwing their support behind the other – but at the end of it all, seventh-time contest joiner and crowd favorite, Aldrin “The One” Javar from TGIFriday’s Fairview branch was deemed worthy of the title, as he amazed everyone with his technique, as well as his charm.
Last year, Umlas bagged top spot in both the TGIFRidays nationwide as well as Asian bartending competitions. She then went on to win the championship title, Grand Prize Winner, at the World Bartending Championship held in Dallas, Texas; besting bartenders from across the globe. She was the first female bartender and the first Filipina to win the sought-after title.
“TGIFridays boasts a different breed of bartenders who are competitive and passionate, and world-class. We are hopeful that another bartender from TGIFridays’ Philippines this year will duplicate Rizza’s achievements and hopefully bring home the world championship title,” Guia Abuel, TGIFridays VP for Operations, said.
Cheers, to top-notch Filipino bartenders!
By ANGIE DUARTE