Finalists included Jill Saunders (Beaufort Bar at the Savoy Hotel, London, UK), Terry Cashman (The Hoxton Pony, London, UK), Torsten Spuhn (Modern Masters, Erfurt, Germany), René Soffner (Roomers Bar, Frankfurt, Germany), David Gonzalez (Shikku Izakaya, Madrid, Spain), Gegham Ghazaryan (Xandom, Alicante, Spain), David Wolowidnyk (West, Vancouver, Canada), Rob Montgomery (Miller Tavern, Toronto, Canada), Michael Pazdon (Solbar, California, USA), Jeff Bell (PDT, NY, USA).
Each Finalist completed online gin knowledge exams on www.g-vine.com and attended one of the preliminary contests held in eight cities around the world, competing to score points with a blind nosing & tasting of ten gins and a ‘creative cocktail challenge’.
The competition was also open to ‘wild cards’ – bartenders from countries that don't have G'Vine yet, and to bartenders who couldn't attend the preliminary. They included Guillaume Ferroni (Château Cressauds, Aubagne, France), Monica Berg (Ice Bar, Oslo, Norway), Glaser Ladislav (Zapa Bar, Prague, Czech Republic), Siegel Solomon (Veneto, Victoria British Colombia, Canada) and Javier Ruiz Vera (Cocteleria Lubbock, Barcelona, Spain).
Organiser and bartender Philip Duff said: “The GCP [Gin Connoisseur Programme) couldn't credibly call itself the quest for the world's finest gin bartender if it was restricted to bartenders from places where G'Vine is available. By opening the contest to all bartenders, everywhere, the G'Vine GCP cements it's reputation as the world's premier gin contest for the world's finest bartenders.”
G'Vine Gin Connoisseur 2011 Gegham is only the second ever champion, following in the footsteps of 2010's Stephan Hinz, of Shepheard bar in Cologne, Germany. Gegham will receive $3,000, an intercontinental trip for two to visit bars, a platinum vineflower pin and a year's supply of gin for his bar. “This is a real honour to be crowned Gin Connoisseur 2011 by G’Vine, among such an impressive and professional group of bartenders and under the guidance of Philip Duff and Gary Regan,” said Gegham.