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(PRESS RELEASE) — Chairman’s Reserve, the gold standard for Saint Lucian rum, concluded its Global Mai Tai Competition on March 9, 2019.
Chairman’s Reserve is proud to announce Francois Badel of Le Montfort in Rennes, France and Aldrick John Baptiste of The Coco Palm Resort in Rodney Bay Village, Saint Lucia, as this year’s winning team.
With their instinctive and delicious cocktail, The Freaky Tiki Elixir, Francois and Aldrick wowed the judges with a thoughtful, well-balanced recipe and an inspirational, energetic performance.
To earn passage to Saint Lucia for a chance to compete and take top honors at this Global Mai Tai Challenge, hosted at Coconutz Nightclub and Bar in Rodney Bay, top bartenders from around the world competed in regional competitions.
Regionals were organized in France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Canada, and the United States, throughout 2018.
Sergin John Baptiste, marketing manager of St. Lucia Distillers, explained: “The idea to encourage bartenders to play with Chairman’s Reserve in the Mai Tai is a result of how well we believe our rum fits the profile of this traditional tiki cocktail.”
On Saturday night, hundreds of local Saint Lucians and international tourists gathered to witness this idea come to life.
Each international bartender was paired up with a local Saint Lucian bartender to collaborate and display their talent to claim the 2019 Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai Champion title.
The teams worked to creatively use local ingredients, sourced at the Castries spice market, to formulate a tropical cocktail presentation which would best exhibit the character of Chairman’s Reserve rum in a Mai Tai-styled drink, as well as express the culture of Saint Lucia.
Judging the cocktails were: Margaret Monplaisir, managing director of St. Lucia Distillers; Deny Duplessis, quality assurance technician of St. Lucia Distillers; Robin Wynne of Miss Thing’s Hawaiian Cocktail Lounge in Toronto, Canada; Sly Augustine, owner of London’s Trailer Happiness, and world-renowned tiki expert, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry from New Orleans, Louisiana.
Judges and guests were treated to exceptional recipes. Cocktails were evaluated on (1) presentation and performance, (2) originality, (3) taste and balance, and (4) application of what was learned from their experiences at St. Lucia Distillers, a seminar hosted by Jeff Berry on the birth of the Mai Tai, and the use of the local ingredients that were chosen at the Castries spice market.
“The coolest thing about pairing a local finalist with an international finalist was watching strangers become friends,” commented Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. “As they bonded while shopping at the Castries spice market and shared their local and off-island cocktail knowledge to create a new kind of drink, it proved to be a delicious cultural mashup.”
The exchange of ideas and technique was masterful, and resulted in fascinating performances.
Coming in second place was Giovanni Onori from Hotel Atlante Star in Rome, Italy and Yannick Simillien of Saint Lucia’s Anse Chastanet Resort.
In third place was Panagoula Katsimpardi from The 7 Jokers in Athens, Greece and Vince Abrams from the St. James’s Club in Saint Lucia.
“I was taken aback by the passion these skillful bartenders had for Chairman’s Reserve,” said Margaret Monplaisir. “Their attention to every detail, their enthusiasm, and knowledge of Chairman’s Reserve was remarkable.”
The group of bartenders spent a full day visiting St. Lucia Distillers learning, in depth, the DNA of Chairman’s Reserve. The other days leading up to the competition were well spent as the group discovered various parts of the island, absorbing Saint Lucia’s rich culture.
The group was stimulated by the pulse of the island. Chairman’s Reserve was the backbone of their cocktail, and Saint Lucia was their inspiration.
About Chairman’s Reserve
Chairman’s Reserve was created by Laurie Barnard, the last founding family member to hold the Chairman’s position at St. Lucia Distillers. He created a splendid rum for Saint Lucia to compete on the international rum stage by experimented with blending single batch aged pot still rum and aged traditional Coffey column still rum. By returning the blended rum back into oak barrels for additional aging, Laurie Barnard created a soft, well-balanced, and flavorful spirit that has become the benchmark for Saint Lucian rum. Re-launched and rebranded in 2017, Chairman’s Reserve is today renowned as the gold standard for Saint Lucian Rum and has catapulted Saint Lucian style rum into the global premium spirits spotlight.