We arrived at this event dressed vaguely formally, about as formal as one usually gets in Durbs (slops swapped out for closed shoes). We had a debate about sneakers. As we rolled the car in, we saw men all pressed and polished in black tie and women in dresses worth more than my car when it actually runs. We came to a literal screeching stop, frantically reversed out and careened down the road towards home, like deranged hillbillies, to throw on some more serious-looking rags, if slightly wrinkled and covered in cat hair.
I think that’s pretty much most people’s approach to a cocktail: something that is maybe slightly fancier than your average plonk but not taken seriously enough to require a more refined flavour profile. Just add something sweet, chuck in some ice and fling it down the gullet while the next one is lined up. And that’s exactly the approach that World Class aims to challenge. If people can appreciate a good wine, there’s no reason their palates can’t celebrate a stunningly creative cocktail, prepared by people who enthuse about the subject in exactly the same way a chef would about his or her dishes. I walked in thinking a mixologist was a fancy barman, came out considering them impassioned drink chefs, if not mad scientists. One of my favourite cocktails that reflects this completely underestimated skill was the rosemary & cucumber cocktail. It was a revelation – taking the savoury and completely unpredictable combination, that I wouldn’t even expect on a plate, and serving it up in a spectacularly palatable liquid form. What a pleasure!
World Class South Africa 2013 National Finalists: (L to R) Steven Saunders (KZN, Harveys), Haroon Haffajee (KZN, Harveys), Nick Koumbarakis (CTN, Orphanage), Tim Judge, Johan Blaauw (CTN, One and Only Hotel), Phillip van der Heever (PTA, Harlequins), Ikki Mbele (JHB, Gin)
The evening itself marked the end of a two day judging event, with six finalists, having achieving their prestigious spots after various provincial competitions. They were judged by multiple national cocktail champion and world finalist Ryan Duvenage, renowned Masterchef judge Peter Goffe-Wood and acclaimed brand ambassador Tim Etherington-Judge.
Although Durbanites, Steven Saunders and Haroon Haffajee of Harvey’s restaurant did the city proud, the ultimate winner was Nick Koumbarakis of Cape Town. The lucky bugger gets to represent South Africa now and will sail on the luxurious Azamara Club Cruise for the global finals. Best of luck to him!
Michael Stephenson making a Negron
Ryan Duvenage showing how it’s done.
World Class South Africa Judging panel (L to R) Peter Goffe-Wood, Travis Kuhn, Ryan Duvenage, Tim Etherington-Judge
A big thank-you to the organisers and everyone involved for a wonderful evening and fantastic cocktails! My liver is less grateful this morning, though..