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London lauded as world cocktail capital

Published:  16 July, 2010

London was confirmed as the world's leading city for cocktail mixology last night as The Connaught Hotel's Erik Lorincz was crowned overall winner of Diageo's Raising the Bar competition.

Against the backdrop of the floodlit Acropolis, the ceremony, attended by an international cast of critics and contenders, was held in Athens' Zappeion in the national gardens. Transferring the award of an onyx and silver cocktail shaker chalice was last year's winner, Aristotelis Papadopoulos.

Lorinz was one of 24 finalists globally selected from 9,000 entrants over nine months of regional heats. Via six gruelling challenges, including a food matching round held at Nobu Matsuhisa's restaurant at the Astir Palace complex, some of the most recognised names in the business tested bartenders on their knowledge, creativity, ingenuity and cocktail mastery and charm. These included: Salvatore Calabrese, Dale DeGroff, Alberto Soria, Peter Dorelli and Gary Reagan. Lorincz was particularly commended for his "perfectly balanced" Rossita.

Rudy Paoli, managing director of Diageo Reserve, said: "World class is a truly international celebration of the flair, creativity and skill of the bartender and the appreciation of great spirit brands. Erik represents all of this, and we would like to congratulate him on this fantastic achievement."

Dedicating the award to his parents, Lorincz revealed his winning formula: "I always try to look at the details. Less is more." Although from Slovakia, his allegiance is to Great Britain. He said: "I am fully representing the UK, and London is the best place to be."

He added: "I've never done this kind of challenge. There was a great atmosphere and I look forward to celebrating with the 23 other finalists." Over his one year tenure as World Class Bartender of the Year, Lorincz intends to display the award in his hotel's bar from tomorrow, when he returns to work.

Cocktails including Aviation, Bloody Mary and Bloody Sand were blended using spirits from Diageo Reserve brands: Ketel One, Tanqueray No. TEN, Zacapa, Don Julio and Johnnie Walker Gold and Blue.

The other winners were: Jordi Otero (Gastronomy), Do-Hwan Eom (Market Challenge), Max La Rocca (Ritual and Cocktail Theatre), Heinz Kaiser (Speed and Taste), Timo Janse (History Challenge), Torsten Spuhn (Philosophy).

Now in its third year, the competition, which seeks to "re-educate and inspire bartenders", is held in the winner's country. This means it will return to London in 2011.