Dubai bartender wins top accolade at Finlandia Cup
Dubai has emerged victorious from a prestigious international mixology competition held in Finland last month.
Twenty-nine of the world’s best bartenders braved arctic temperatures in hope of winning the 11th Annual International Finlandia Vodka Cup.
Raditya Dimas from Dubai won the contest by attaining the highest cumulative score, 298 points out of a possible 312, in the three drink categories: aperitif, long drink and ‘Quick Mix’.
Dimas, winner of the Dubai Local Finlandia Cup, was accompanied by Chris Samaranyake of Sky Bar, Burj Al Arab - winner of the local bar managers competition - and Junaid Malik, beverage training manager at MMI, to the finals of the competition.
“I am so happy that I won,” said Dimas, a native of Indonesia who works in Ginseng, a stylish bar and lounge located in Dubai’s Wafi City complex.
“Plus this is the first time I have ever seen snow. It was my dream, since I am from a tropical area.”
This is the second year in a row that someone from Dubai has placed in a top spot at the competition; last year Shaun Roesstorff, also from Ginseng, took third place.
Competitors at this year’s event had to win regional heats in their home countries to earn the opportunity to represent their country in the international finals in Finland.
During the finals, each competitor had to demonstrate his or her range of mixology talents by crafting three unique creations in the three categories.
In the ‘Quick Mix’ category, contestants were given the drink ingredients just 10 minutes prior to the competition. During that time, they each had to invent a new drink recipe and then mix the concoction within an additional five minutes. Any extra time resulted in the loss of valuable points.
Every drink the bartenders crafted had to be a new creation based on Finlandia Vodka, or a member of its flavour family: Cranberry Fusion, Lime Fusion, Mango Fusion, the award-winning Grapefruit Fusion, and two other flavours currently only available to the UA market - Redberry Fusion and Wild Berries Fusion.
After each round, the drinks were judged by an international jury on the aroma, appearance, and most importantly, taste of each cocktail.
The venue, located in Kittila, Finland, was a specially-designed snow dome, made completely of snow and hand-cut ice for the competition.
Inside the dome, hand-crafted ‘Ice Bars’ lined the inside of the 16-meter wide, 10-meter high igloo.
Competitors not only had to deal with the pressure of the competition but also the cold, making ingredients react differently.
“I never thought I’d be the winner - there was some really tough competition. When they called out my name I couldn’t speak,” Dimas admitted.
He added that this latest victory was further proof of Dubai’s growth as a world mixology hub.
“It’s definitely an up-and-coming cocktail city,” he said.
“Competitions such as the Finlandia Cup are very important for us in Dubai,” he continued. “Not only to boost a single bartender’s career but also to inspire Dubai’s other young bartenders and encourage them to compete with the best in the world.”
Dimas confirmed that his winning creations would appear on Ginseng’s new menu, set to launch next month.
Commenting on the success of the International Finlandia Vodka Cup, Rachel Mousell, marketing consultant for Brown-Forman - the owner of Finlandia Vodka Worldwide and a producer and marketer of other brands such as Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort and Chambord - said that the competition was geared towards several different objectives.
“First of all Finlandia is trying to help educate the trade on the brand and its purity, year by year introducing new flavours as they come along, so it’s a great education process in the build up to the competition. It really allows bartenders to experiment with the brand,’ she said.
“It’s also just a nice way of getting the trade together, because bartenders love to demonstrate their skills to each other and share and learn new things.
“And finally it of course offers them a chance to win this great accolade — the Finlandia competition is one of the biggest cocktail competitions in the world, in terms of mixology, so to give them this chance to shine, to take part and to achieve such recognition is really fantastic.”
Mousell added that she now considered Dubai to be “on a par” with other leading cocktail destinations round the world.
“Some of the bars we’ve got in Dubai now are definitely on a par with New York and London, the traditional cocktail capitals, if you like, and that really wasn’t the case a few years ago,’ she pointed out.
“Dubai has only actually been in the competition for two years and I think prior to that there may have been one or two excellent bartenders, but there weren’t enough to make a competition.
“Now, as Dimas has shown, the level is right up there with some of the best in the world”.
“We’re very excited about Ginseng’s new menu – he understands our flavours very well, so there should be some exceptional cocktails on it,” concluded Mousell.
Raditya Dimas' winning cocktails:
APERITIF: The Quicky-tini
4.5cl Finlandia Cranberry Fusion vodka
1.5cl strawberry liqueur
1.5cl passion fruit syrup
3cl lemon juice
Method: Shake and strain into a martini glass
Garnish: Lemon slice and mint tip
LONG DRINK: Jakarta Red Dragon
6cl Finlandia Grapefruit Fusion
1 piece apple
3cl passion fruit syrup
3cl raspberry puree
3cl cranberry juice
Method: Muddle, shake and strain into a highball glass
Garnish: Red currant, grapefruit peel, and mint tip
QUICK MIX: Thank you with love
6cl Finlandia Grapefruit Fusion
3cl sugar syrup
6cl Pomegranate juice
3 slices pink grapefruit
Although Raditya Dimas won the overall competition — in which Stephen Hinz from Germany finished second followed by Ionel Aurel Talpau of Romania — the finals also yielded three different winners of each individual drink category.
Aperitif — Jonathan Cowley from the United Kingdom with his ‘Grapefruit Suomi Sour’, combining Finlandia Grapefruit Fusion with grapefruit juice, lemon and a garnish of egg white.
Long Drink — Stephen Hinz from Germany with his creation, ‘Three Steps’, incorporating Finlandia Vodka Classic with Grand Marnier, mint, lime and ginger beer.
Quick Mix — Ioannis Samaras from Greece, with an untitled concoction including Finlandia Grapefruit Fusion, cucumber and ginger ale.