The 2016 competition, run by Altos tequila, focused on the use of local Mexican ingredients, which challenged 21 bartenders to create a drink based on seasonal or foraged produce, sourced from Guadalajara’s markets.
Ramage will become The Tahona Society global ambassador and will be given the opportunity to host Tahona Society programmes around the world in the coming year. Bethany Ham of Corner Door, LA and Simon Kistenfeger of Bristol Bar Norway took home second and third place respectively.
The 2016 Tahona Society judging panel consisted of Altos co-creator, Dré Masso; World Class winner and Crafthouse Cocktails co founder Charles Joly; director of Strangehill Agency, Cairbry Hil; and 2015 winner of the Tahona Society, Mike Capoferri.
Head judge Dre Masso told Drinks International: “Kelsey constantly scored high throughout the rounds. I think what she had done very well was dissect the drink and made sure she executed it at every level. Her drink really stood out. Her drink was very similar to a traditional Mexican soft drink. She had found a specific pink nut in the market challenge that is only available at this time of year.
“Her delivery was very natural. The Altos stood out in the drink – it wasn’t masked or overpowering. This week has all been about sustainable bartending and Kelsey made a zero waste cocktail. It had to be a yummy, balanced drink. The tequila came through in the way it should. Her drink was definitely a lightbulb moment.”
Ramage added: “I am elated and surprised. I have entered a few competitions before but nothing on this scale – nothing even close. At Dandelyan we try to be as sustainable as possible. We put a lot of thought into what we are doing with ingredients.
“I have come from Canada to London and I know my time there is limited because I will have to return so to be able to do something like this is amazing. Doing something like this opens doors for me. Working with a brand that is sustainable – not just a marketing gimmick – is amazing.”
Former winner and 2016 judge Joly said: “As someone that has been on the other side of the bar, it is such an honour and a much easier to job to judge this year. I have been fortunate to judge on 30 to 40 competitions and the calibre in this one has been insane. Cocktail for cocktail, it was the best competition I have judged. I would have finished every drink.”
The 21 finalists were as follows:
- Evgeny Nagimov, Speak Easy in UFA – Yekaterinurg, Russia
- Manuela Lerchbaumer, Herberstein – Vienna, Austria
- Vainius Balcaitis, Apoteka – Vilnius, Lithuania
- Cho Hyun Sung, Ritz Carlton Hotel – Seoul, South Korea
- Mikhail Konovalenko, El Pushka – Minsk, Belarus
- Kelsey Ramage, Dandelyan – London, UK
- Athanasios Ioannou, The Gin Joint – Athens, Greece
- Mateusz Szuchnik, El Koktel – Warsaw, Poland
- Shane Harte, The Chelsea Drugstore – Dublin, Ireland
- Lin Po-Shen, Mr&Mrs Bund – Shanghai, China
- Simon Kistenfeger, Bristol – Oslo, Norway
- Christopher Stewart, Balderdash – Copenhagen, Denmark
- David Fuentes, Cantina y Punto – Bogotá, Colombia
- Nuno Figueriredo, Tabik – Lisbon, Portugal
- Christina Veira, Apartment 200 – Toronto, Canada
- Abraham Delgado, Hueso – Guadalajara, Mexico
- Julz Cesars, Loló Lorena – Isla Mujeres, Mexico
- Thalita Gabriela, Bulletin Place – Sydney, Australia
- Max Green, Amor y Amargo – New York City, US
- Bethany Ham, Corner Door – Los Angeles, US
- Will Cutting, Doheny Room – Los Angeles, US