Talented Norwegian Cruise Line barman reaches semi-finals of Bacardi’s top cocktail competition

For the first time in the competition’s nine-year history, the competing bartenders were permitted to use Bacardi Ocho (8) Años, Carta Blanca and Carta Oro rums

Wade Cleophas from Norwegian Cruise Line, the winner of the 2017 Bacardi Legacy Cruise Competition Bartender of the Year, has gone on to reach the semi-finals of the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition.

Staged in Berlin in May, the 38 semi-finalists were drawn from thousands of entries for a two-day event that included each finalist taking to the main stage in front of an enthusiastic crowd, TV cameras and five judges to create two serves of their Legacy cocktails within a seven-minute timeframe.

The second judging element was a private presentation to a separate panel of four judges, where the finalists outlined their own promotional campaign. Enrique Comas, a Bacardi family member and Bacardi Trade Advocacy Senior Manager for Latin America and Caribbean, was among the expert judges.  

For the first time in the competition’s nine-year history, the competing bartenders were permitted to use Bacardi Ocho (8) Años, as well as Bacardi Carta Blanca and Bacardi Carta Oro rums.

Wade Cleophas from Norwegian Cruise Line at the 2017 Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition

Wade used Bacardi Ocho (8) Años aged rum, one of the oldest private rum blends in the world, as the base for his Legend Reviver, inspired by classic cocktails of the past and using spices evoking travel to exotic places. 

His recipe featured Bacardi Ocho (8) Años mixed with star anise-infused sweet vermouth, caramel/cinnamon syrup with drops of whisky barrel-aged bitters and finished with a mist of absinthe. The cocktail was artistically completed with a garnish evoking the sails of a merchant ship and the wings of the Bacardi bat. Wade’s promotional campaign included achieving a fleetwide cocktail listing with Norwegian Cruise Line. 

Zachary Sulkes, International Key Account Manager (Cruise), Bacardi Global Travel Retail, said: “Wade can be so proud of his achievement in the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition, demonstrating that the ever-rising standards being achieved in cruise bartending can compete with the very best bartenders in the world. He not only created a perfectly executed and original cocktail, but his presentation also blended the story of his personal journey with a powerfully resonant link to the legend of Don Facundo Bacardi.”

Karl Muhlberger Vice President, Food and Beverage, Norwegian Cruise Line, said: “Everyone at Norwegian Cruise Line is incredibly proud of Wade’s achievement in beating more than 2,500 contenders in the 2017 Bacardi Legacy Cruise Competition Bartender of the Year and then reaching the semi-finals of the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition. 

“Wade is diligent and passionate and has consistently shown great dedication, not only to the Legacy competitions, but also to the quality of bar experience he delivers for vacationers onboard Norwegian Cruise Line every day. His enthusiastic demonstration on the craft cocktail scene ensures they will go back home and have a deeper appreciation not only for perfectly crafted cocktails, but also for the quality of the bar experience onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet.”

Cleophas added: “The exceptional standard set by the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition was incredibly challenging but hugely satisfying and, both personally and professionally, the whole experience has been an exciting and amazing experience. I’ve learnt even more from the semi-final event and have lots of ideas to take back to Norwegian Cruise Line and share with our guests.”

The eventual winner of the 2017 Bacardi Legacy Cruise Competition Bartender of the Year was Belgian barman Ran Van Ongevalle with his cocktail Clarita, comprising Bacardi Gran Reserva 8 Años Rum, Amontillado Sherry, crème de cacao, absinthe and saline solution.