Charles Joly of The Aviary in Chicago has captured the title of international bartender of the year at a major event in London, where he beat his rivals for his “passion, creativity and unrivalled mixology skills”.
Joly became the sixth winner of Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year 2014 award over the weekend, beating 47 bartenders from around the world.
Challenges were staged across Great Britain, starting in Gleneagles, Scotland before traveling via the Orient Express to London, where mixologists were tasked to create drinks that reflected the culture and stories of their host nation.
“Right from the beginning Charles’ passion, creativity and unrivalled mixology skills blew the judges away,” said Diageo Reserve spokesman Matteo Fantacchiotti in a statement.
“His desire to create unique serves that combined sophisticated tastes with innovative modern twists never faltered at any stage of the competition.”
The cocktail that set Joly apart from his rivals? His recipe for “Above the Clouds,” made with premium Guatemalan rum, gingerbread dream rooibos syrup, verjus rouge (the juice of unripe grapes), French herbal liqueur Benedictine and an “aromatic vapour” to garnish the drink.
Joly is no stranger to awards. Last year, the Chicago mixologist was crowned the American Bartender of the Year at the Tales of the Cocktail event in New Orleans.
At The Aviary, cocktails are developed with the same kind of seriousness and treatment as a Michelin-starred meal. There are up to 35 different types of ice ― shapes, sizes, flavours ― and a designated “Ice Guy” whose sole job is to freeze things ― all day.
Cocktails are flambéed using the oils from an orange peel. The notion of a drink on ice is inverted, as a hollow, frozen orb of ice is filled with an amber-coloured cocktail.
The Aviary was opened by Michelin-starred chef and Chicago celebrity Grant Achatz of Alinea and Next.
Another noteworthy address in the world of cocktails: The Artesian at The Langham hotel in London, which was named the best bar in the world 2014 at Tales of the Cocktail for the second year in a row.
The next edition of the Diageo bartending competition in 2015 is set to take place in Cape Town.