FOR some – especially students – it is just a part-time gig, but for Denzel Heath bartending is an opportunity to compete in an international competition in France searching for the world’s best gin bartender.
The 29-year old, of Lorraine, Port Elizabeth, is a finalist in the Gin Connoisseur Programme (GCP) World Championships in Cognac, competing against 14 finalists from countries including the US, Japan, Singapore and Australia. Although a wildcard entrant, Heath is confident his 13 years behind the bar make him a worthy contender.
The grand prize is ß3000 (R39532) and the chance to become brand ambassador for the primary sponsor of the competition, EWG Spirits and Wines.
“The GCP invites the unofficial top 15 bartenders from around the world annually to compete in a series of challenges in a five- day competition. All of these challenges count for points and prepare us for a grand gala evening where the winners are announced,” Heath said. “Each of the 250 guests at the gala evening are given five tokens, with each of the 15 contestants manning a bar. The bar with the most tokens at the end of the night wins.”
The GCP World Championships is scored according to bartending techniques, hygiene and bottle tricks. “People don’t realise that bartending at this level requires research. We are required to create new drinks, so one has to try different blends … and the rest is trial and error,” Heath said.
A former Castros and Lennox manager, Heath recently fulfilled his dream of “delivering a venue where patrons can socialise and relax while consuming good meals and beverages”.
“Last week we opened Tod and Copper’s Prohibition Bar … specialising in non-alcoholic, handmade beverages. I know it’s weird for a full-time barman to open a non-alcoholic restaurant, but the idea is to successfully experiment with non-alcoholic beverages and food.”
Heath leaves for France tomorrow and the competition starts on Monday.