Cheers to Bay’s first master barman

IN THE FIRING LINE: Master Bartender winner Michael Beyleveld lights his cocktail Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

Gareth Wilson

A NEWTON PARK barman walked away with R10000 when he was named Port Elizabeth’s first Master Barman in a liquidstandoff between five of the city’s top barmen last night.

Herms Restaurant in Newton Street, where he works, scored six cases of Johnnie Walker from his win.

The Radisson Blu Hotel turned into a cocktail lover’s paradise as 30 top barmen battled it out for the title. They were eventually whittled down to the five finalists – Michael Beyleveld and Eugene Strydom, both from Herms, Clive Chivazve from News Cafe, Burton Alexander from Soho and Marius Barnard from The Mexican.

Beyleveld, 23, who has worked at Herms for a year, was the eventual winner.

“The competition was tough and the competitors gave me a good run for my money,” he said afterwards. “I really did not think I was going to walk away with the title.”

The competition, an initiative of the Master Bartending Academy (MBA) sponsored by Brandhouse, is aimed at training bartenders to offer top service.

The academy is the brainchild of Mark Barrett, who launched the skills development initiative in bars across the continent in 2012. “We want all businesses to have well-trained staff who will be an asset to their business,” he said. “This [idea] came about while I was sitting in a bar in Nigeria and ordered a drink.

“The barman could not even mix the most basic drink, which is when I first saw the real need for proper training.

“From there the MBA was born and now we are basically the equivalent of Idols for barmen across the continent.” Yesterday was the first time the competition had been held in Port Elizabeth.

“The academy has already trained 175 barmen from Port Elizabeth, and of these we chose 30 semifinalists and then five finalists,” Barrett said.

“They are the cream of the crop.”

“The [MBA] course is compiled by some of Africa’s top barmen and comprises a written exam and two practical tests, which are marked on speed and accuracy by three judges.

“The programme was launched in 2012 and has already trained more than 14000 bartenders in 14 countries and 25 cities across Africa.”

The top barmen competition will also be held in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg this year.

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