Shawn Soole
March 12, 2007


You have made it to the show, congratulations! It is the morning of the competition and now you are just 12 hours from being in front of 200 plus people mixing your creation for the world. You have prepared endlessly, but are you ready for the spectacle that is the arena? (This really gets into the Zen of bartending, it exists..doesn’t make sense) I am referring to the higher state of mixology and competing, some people think this is crazy talk but just wait, you will feel it.


You arrive at the competition with an entourage to rival Paris Hiltons. Your girlfriend and your best mates tag along to support you in your first step to bartending greatness. This is the first stage of the psychological aspect of the modern day mixology, the entourage. The entourage defines how popular the bartender is not only with his mates but also with the bartending community. If you walk into that arena with a great crew of people, you will automatically get respect from and intimidate the other competitors. On your down time, network as much as you can, go and visit different bars and befriend as many tenders as you can.


The next aspect is your preparation, if you walk into the competition unprepared people will know. Make sure you have double-checked everything that you need for the night including little things like bar cloths and a cutting board. Find yourself a nice private spot in the area set aside your kit, and then go get a drink. You are going to need it.


After you have yourself a nice cold beer and possibly a shot to calm the nerves and that interesting pang that is in your stomach, find the organiser and gather information such as start times, in what order everyone will be going on, and if there has been any changes to glassware or spirits. This is when the Zen of bartending comes into play; this is when you start mentally preparing before you hop up on stage.


About fifteen minutes before you go up on stage, find yourself a nice quiet spot and start setting up both your tools and your mind. It seems a little much saying that you need to prepare yourself before you get up on stage, but it is scary and daunting to be under bright lights in a big room with five hundred eyes on your every move. Some people will saying it is just like a Friday night but it is far from that. Friday nights hide your little flaws, your small spills and mistakes, up on stage everything is on display.


It is your turn, you’re up on stage. Next to you someone struggles with the exact same feelings you have. The heart fluttering, the stomach churning and the overwhelming feeling are all things everyone experiences on his or her first time. You usually have about five minutes to make four cocktails, this seems like plenty of time but there seems to be a time space continuum as soon as you jump up in front of that crowd. The time goes so quickly and before you know it the buzzer sounds.


You have just popped your cocktail cherry; you are no longer a virgin to bartending holy grail. The hard part is over, now comes the judgement. This can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour depending on how long the host bar want to keep 200 hospitality staff drinking at their bar, anyone in the industry will know that we drink more than a decades worth of German Oktoberfest. The judges are usually made up of a representative of the alcohol company putting on the show, hospitality professional and a well-known female celebrity. They will deliberate over who is the victor.


Finally comes the time for the announcement, all the competitors file up on stage and wait anxiously for the call. Its you first time, so if you have not made the podium this time does not be disheartened. You have used the time to do valuable networking, seen how the experienced do it and have also had a fun time with like-minded people in the industry. If you did place in your first competition then congratulations on starting off with a bang. Keep up the good work and you will have more wins and experiences in the near future.