Nikka names 2nd finalist in Perfect Serve contest

Japanese whisky brand, Nikka, has named the second finalist of its international cocktail competition, The Nikka Perfect Serve.

The UK event - which followed the Belgium final - was part of the competition’s ten-country, Europe-wide first round. The final is due to be held in Paris in November.

Of the three bartenders competing, Rusty Cerven of host-bar The Connaught in London won through.

The event, which was also contested by Robert Wood of The Kenilworth Hotel in Warwickshire and Dean Evans of The Finnieston in Glasgow, had an emphasis on bartenders’ service performance as well as knowledge, creativity and technique.

Divided into four tests, the bartenders were examined on product knowledge, previously prepared drinks, the ‘perfect Mizuwari’ – a Japanese serve – and their take on the three classic cocktails, the Manhattan, Old Fashioned and Whisky Sour.

The contest also incorporated an unusual twist with judges Ladislav Piljar of The Savoy’s American Bar, Phil Wilson, brand director of UK importer Eaux de Vie and Olivia Plunkett, marketing manager of Marussia Beverages UK, taking on the roles of 'difficult customers'.

Stansilav Vadrna, European brand manager and ‘invisible’ judge for the event, said: “The competition is about the overall experience of the customer – it’s the whole process. Bartenders have to show awareness of the here and now.”