Chairman's Reserve Mai Tai Challenge winners announced

Francois Badel of Le Montfort in Rennes, France and Aldrick John Baptiste of The Coco Palm Resort in Rodney Bay Village, Saint Lucia have been crowned Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai Challenge winners for 2019.

Their cocktail, The Freaky Tiki Elixir, impressed the judges at the international competition held at Coconutz Bar in St Lucia last week.

The biannual competition, hosted by St Lucia-based rum brand Chairman’s Reserve, challenged 11 international bartenders to pair up with a local ‘tenders to create their own twist on a classic tiki cocktail, the Mai Tai.

The 11 international bartenders won their regional competitions to qualify for the global final, where the they worked together with their local bartender to create their cocktail.

The brief for the final was to best exhibit the character of Chairman’s Reserve rum in a Mai Tai-styled drink.

On the day of the final, all 11 pairs were given EC$100 to source ingredients for their cocktail at a local spice market, before spending time to prep their concept for the final.

“We had an idea to encourage bartenders to play with Chairman’s Reserve in the Mai Tai cocktail because of how well we believed our rum fit the profile of this traditional tiki cocktail,” said Sergin John Baptiste, marketing director of St Lucia Distillers.

Judging the cocktails was Margaret Monplaisir, MD of St Lucia Distillers; Deny Duplessis, quality manager of SLD; Robin Wynne of Miss Thing’s Hawaiian Cocktail Lounge in Toronto; Sly Augustine, owner of London’s Trailer Happiness and tiki expert Jeff “Beachbum” Berry.

Cocktails were evaluated on presentation and performance, originality, taste and balance and application of what was learned during the week-long trip.

“The coolest thing about pairing a local finalist with an international finalist was watching strangers become friends and share their local and off-island cocktail knowledge to create a new kind of drink, it proved to be a delicious cultural mashup,” said Jeff “Beachbum” Berry.