Who's the Best Bartender in the World?

Shaking their way to the top: world's best bartenders converge in Berlin.

ByABC News
August 17, 2009, 6:29 AM

BERLIN, 17 August, 2009 — -- It's not a profession renowned for its gravitas but a select group of bartenders in Berlin this week were taking drinking very seriously indeed. "I practice between three to five hours a day," Russian bartender Alexander Rodoman said. "I can't count how many bottles I break. But it all goes into my annual budget."

Rodoman, an eight time champion in the art of cocktail mixing in his own country and the 2003 world champion, also owns a company specializing in putting on displays of mixology at private parties in Moscow. And he was in Berlin for the 35th World Cocktail Championships. Around 100 bartenders from 52 countries were competing in the annual contest, organized by the International Bartender's Association. It consists of two sections -- flair and classic. In the classic category, bartenders spend most of their time working with ingredients to make the best tasting cocktail they can. In the flair category, they show off their mixing skills with a routine that could involve anything from juggling bottles and shakers and a precarious balancing of glassware to strange and interesting ways of incorporating fruit or other cocktail garnishes.

The event took place in a hotel ballroom in the heart of Berlin. At the entrance spectators were greeted by a middle-aged French bartender who amazed them with the decorations he had created from fruit and fruit peels.

But Rodoman has seen this before. He excused himself, saying: "I need to concentrate." And so he did. To practice for his heat in the contest, he threw three, four, or sometimes five shakers and bottles into the air, catching them behind his back or between his legs. He kept the lot juggling with the help of his wrist, knee or forehead. Sometimes a bottle even landed, somewhat precariously, on the bridge of his nose.