And the Winner is…
Wow! We could actually write that word and leave it at that. The 11th Havana Club Grand Prix was amazing. And although we know it’s the done thing to say so, we really think it was the best so far. The competitors dealt perfectly with Cuba’s complicated conditions and the support teams did a fantastic job.
Visits and seminars, parties on the Malecón or in the garden of a beautiful 1950’s Miramar villa, jazz music from future Cuban greats or bands mixing reggaeton and salsa, this edition had it all – even tropical storms so impressive that it rained inside the beautiful salon 1930 of the Hotel Nacional, where the finals were held.
As always, many friendships were born at the Grand Prix and a good number reaffirmed. As most would tell you, those few days spent in the city that’s at the heart of Havana Club’s identity are pretty special.
Of course, we (journalists, writers, master distillers, staff and bartenders) were all there because we wanted to know who would become the best bartender in the world according to a stellar jury. 44 competitors vied for top spots in what was the most hotly contested Grand Prix to date. In fact, reaching a decision was so complicated that, when the jury was meant to announce the ten finalists on a stage overlooking the Havana Bay, they chose instead to pronounce… 13 names!
So 13 bartenders found themselves behind the bar for one last attempt at winning the Grand Prix. The drinks were quite frankly amazing, but we were bound to see disappointed faces when the winners were announced later that night at a craft brewery in the old harbour. Four of them, however, were overjoyed.
First up, the People’s Choice Award went to Terkel Kleist, from Denmark.
In third position, we had Marian Krause, from Germany.
In second position, Lithuania’s Veilandas Povilas.
And the winner was… (drum roll) Amaury Cepeda from Cuba!
Congrats to all them. In the coming weeks, you can expect plenty of articles on the finalists, the judges, the bar team and some of the guests. In the meantime, please let us just rest for a few days: it's been emotional.