The Puerto Rican cocktail industry had one of its peak moments of the year during the World Class Puerto Rico Week 2018, in which José 'Chuck' Rivera, from JungleBird and Luis Pagán, from La Coctelera competed to obtain the title of World Class Bartender Puerto Rico 2018.
After an intense week of seminars, conferences and various challenges —in which colleagues from La Factoría and other bars also competed— both bartenders had to develop a pop-up bar concept. The judges of this last challenge were Arturo Savage, Senior Ambassador of the Diageo’s Portfolio Reserve; Rafael Reyes, mixology expert and bar specialist; and Lauren Mote, multi award-winning mixologist, sommelier and Global Cocktailian from Diageo Reserve.
The judges evaluated the 9 participants in the two challenges of the competition: "The Ingenious Bartender" and "The Heat of the Moment". In both the skills presented by Savage and Reyes on the day of the seminars were put to the test. During the selection of the finalists, Mote stressed that the World Class competition, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, invites participants to “want to be better and better for themselves. Regardless of the result of the competition, the attitude that represents us is that of wanting to raise our standards day by day.”
As part of the instructions of the final challenge, competitors had to present a unique design in their space of the bar where the 5 senses will be stimulated both with the setting, as in the
‘Chuck’ served three tropical recipes amid the cheers of colleagues and friends who packed La Factoría, where the final challenge took place.
After a round of evaluation that Savage described as very close, the local Puerto Rico competition culminated with the selection of Luis Pagán, mixologist at La Coctelera, as the winner of its tenth edition.
Pagán, World Class Bartender Puerto Rico 2018, will represent the Island in the final global competition, to be held at the end of the year in Berlin, Germany. He will have several months of preparation prior to his departure, that will raise his level of competitiveness and the necessary tools to represent Puerto Rico with the excellence that characterizes the past winners of this the local competition.