Havana Club launches Cocktail Maestros competition

11 November, 2023

Leading Cuban rum brand, Havana Club is proud to unveil its groundbreaking global bartending competition: Havana Club Cocktail Maestros, which sets the stage for a new era in the cocktail world.

With teamwork at its core, the pioneering initiative celebrates the art of bartending mastery, the spirit of hospitality and the brand’s signature creative energy.

With €10,000 and a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Havana up for grabs, a journey into the world of Cuban culture and craftsmanship awaits successful finalists.

In a competition like no other, Havana Club is inviting teams of two bartenders in Europe with the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Czech Republic being lead countries in addition to three European Wild Cards, as well as Cuba, Brazil and China.

They’ll have the opportunity to embark on an enriching journey to compete and showcase their unparalleled level of expertise on the international stage through a series of team-building challenges and an extensive education programme.

To equip teams with skills for a successful first entry, Havana Club is offering exclusive Maestro Sessions, featuring the following educational films with insights from leading industry voices:

• Liquid: Maestro del Ron Cubano Asbel Morales and Global Brand Ambassador Alfredo Guerra will lead an exploration of Havana Club’s rich cultural heritage, delving into the intricate world of rum production, vibrant island life and the everlasting connection this has with the liquid.

• Flavour: Renowned chef and founder of Bando Belly, Naz Ramadan, will showcase her unique approach to flavours and ingredients through a virtual cooking demonstration. Accompanied by Global Brand Ambassador Liam Holyoak-Rackal, the pair will explore the intricate balancing of food by perfectly pairing it with a neat Havana Club Añejo 7 Años.

• Hustle: Iconic bar duo, Emilio Di Salvo and Keila Urzais, of London’s most reputable cocktail bar, Satan’s Whiskers, will focus on how to hustle within the bar scene. With their exceptional mixology skills and deep knowledge of crafting cocktails they will share tricks of the trade, creating an atmosphere of genuine hospitality that turns a great drink into a memorable experience.

• Expression: With nearly a decade of experience, legendary photographer Lateef Okunnu will unveil the secrets behind the extraordinary art of drink photography. Specialising in photographing food, drink and people, Lateef’s extensive portfolio in these domains set the stage for a masterful exploration of the art of visually showcasing beverages.

Entries open for the first challenge, Liquid Harmony, from November 20th to January 22nd and will be judged by an esteemed panel of industry representatives, including brand ambassadors and long-standing friends of Havana Club. Inspired by the Maestro Sessions, teams simply need to:

• Create a bespoke cocktail using Havana Club rum alongside two homemade ingredients

• Capture a stunning image of their creation accompanied by an equally remarkable team photo

• Enter their submission via the Havana Club Cocktail Maestros landing page

Successful Liquid Harmony applicants will advance to national and regional finals with eight teams of finalists invited to the global final (15th-18th April 2024) in Havana, Cuba where they will be fully immersed in the vibrant heart of the city to embrace island life and explore the local bartending scene. The showstopping 4-day trip will also include an exclusive tour of the San José Distillery hosted by the renowned Maestros del Ron Cubano as well as team-building activities and an unforgettable experience of the authenticity of Cuba.

The final challenges will include The Cocktail Mastery challenge and The Great Havana Hustle where teams will host a bar shift to highlight real life hospitality mastery and celebrate the collective energy. Alongside this unique journey and the €10,000 cash prize, the first ever Havana Club Cocktail Maestros team will also take home a coveted, extremely rare bottle of Havana Club Máximo Extra Añejo and an invitation to take part in the next edition of the competition and continue their journey with Havana Club.

Havana Club’s International Brand Director, Ludmilla Stephkov explains: “Bartenders across the globe have always been at the heart of our story, which is exactly why we’re committed to supporting and collaborating with them. This year, we are delighted to unveil Havana Club Cocktail Maestros, a competition rooted in a team mindset, brand education, cocktail expertise and cultural immersion. This isn’t just about mixing the best drinks; it’s about celebrating a unique blend of cocktail mastery and hospitality skills within the bartending community.

Stephkov concludes: “We’re looking forward to reviewing entries and crowning the first ever Havana Club Cocktail Maestros champions whilst offering an unforgettable journey into the world of Cuban culture and craftsmanship.”

Are you a bartending duo that has what it takes to be crowned as the first Havana Club Cocktail Maestros? Entries for Havana Club Cocktail Maestros will open on Monday 20th November – head to the Havana Club website to enter.

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