Raise your glasses to island’s top bartender

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  • Blending flavours: Stefano Troja, winner of the Bacardi Bartender Challenge, pictured at Red Steakhouse mixing the “Pornstar” cocktail (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Blending flavours: Stefano Troja, winner of the Bacardi Bartender Challenge, pictured at Red Steakhouse mixing the “Pornstar” cocktail (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

  • Stefano Troja at Red Steakhouse mixing the

    Stefano Troja at Red Steakhouse mixing the "Pornstar" cocktail (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

  • Pictured are judges, from left, Maxine Adderley, Michael Fay and Blake Somner

    Pictured are judges, from left, Maxine Adderley, Michael Fay and Blake Somner

  • The winning drink called Fuego Rosa

    The winning drink called Fuego Rosa

  • People watching the competition

    People watching the competition

  • Yannis Heracleous, who placed second in the bartending competition

    Yannis Heracleous, who placed second in the bartending competition

  • Vernon Pemberton, Bacardi brands portfolio manager, Bermuda

    Vernon Pemberton, Bacardi brands portfolio manager, Bermuda


Bar manager Stefano Troja won the 2017 Bacardi Bartender Challenge.

Stefano Troja, who works at Red Steakhouse and Bar on Front Street, Hamilton, did not know what to expect when his manager signed his name up for the competition.

Mr Troja said: “My colleague informed me about the bartending competition and that my manager had signed me up. I was shocked.

“I was very nervous because I never did a bartending challenge before.”

He has been bartending for three years, after first having studied culinary arts in Dallas, Texas.

“I think my culinary experience goes hand and hand with being a bartender as it helps me become more creative when mixing flavours together,” Mr Troja said.

Mr Troja joined Red earlier this year on returning to Bermuda.

When asked why he believes he stood out to the judges he replied: “I tried to keep my cocktail balanced and simple.”

The bartenders had to use Bacardi alcoholic drinks to create a unique cocktail. They were being judged on creativity and taste.

“The drink I created for the competition was fairly balanced between sweet and spicy,” Mr Troja said. “I named it the Fuego Rosa which means pink fire.”

He mentioned that the drink is a mix of Corzo tequila, Pama liqueur, lime juice, agave syrup, fresh jalapeño, topped with ginger beer and garnished with candied ginger.

The winner receives a complementary trip to Puerto Rico to view historic bars and factories.

“I am very excited about this opportunity and look forward to learn and gain experienced and get exposure to different factories and products,” Mr Troja said.

The bartending competition was started by Bacardi and Bermuda Premium Spirits Ltd, which works as a sponsor for Bacardi.

Vernon Pemberton, Bacardi Brands portfolio manager, Bermuda, of Bermuda Premium Spirits Ltd, said: “I liaise between Bacardi, the distributors Burrows Lightbourn and Goslings, and whatever is on the market.

“We run events and a lot of charitable things for Bacardi and anything else to do with the brand on the island.”

He said the competition involved Bacardi brands, including the rum but also Grey Goose, Dewar’s, Bombay Sapphire gin and tequila.

“Within that they can use any of the products, anything that was owned by Bacardi Ltd had to be the key ingredient,” he said.

There were six finalists in the competition.

The bartenders came from a range of quality restaurants such as Barracuda Grill, Red Steakhouse, Port O’Call, Bistro J and more.

“We were really excited to have that calibre of guys,” Mr Pemberton said.

“Last year, Ryan Gibbons won and we took him to England and visited some factories, did a historical tour and a master blender course.

“He got to see what the new trends were.”

Among the judges that night were Blake Somner from Two Rock who has been in the restaurant business for more than ten years, Michael Fay who is the brand manager for Bacardi at Burrows Lightbourn, and Maxine Adderley, who is a sales rep whose job it is to visit bars and restaurants for sales and to offer creative ideas for drinks.

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Published Sep 28, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 27, 2017 at 11:57 pm)

Raise your glasses to island’s top bartender

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