Q&A with Julian Short – Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year 2017.

Last week we flocked in at The Venue in Sandton for a spactacular winner reveal  of World Class 2017 competition   This was after an intense search for the meanest bartender in the country.
Diageo finally crowned the winner and it was none other than the best bar man in the country, Julian Short

Image result for julian short bartender

We ahd a few Q&A session with him and this is how it went down, enjoy!

When did you realize you wanted to work behind a bar?
I never imagined myself becoming involved in the hospitality industry and I never thought I would ever become a bartender by profession, but flavour was something that just made so much sense to me. I started working at a serious cocktail bar early on in my career and it was during that time that I fell in love with the craft of cocktail

What is being a bartender?
Being a bartender is so much more than just mixing drinks and serving them with a smile. First and foremost, a bartenders main responsibility is hospitality. Hospitality is pivotal to the success of any bar. Any one can mix a drink, but making someone feel comfortable and special is when the magic happens. 

What have you learnt from this competition?
World Class has pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of doing. This competition has taught me to truly believe in myself and to dig deep and push on through when the odds are stacked against you. World Class has also motivated me to hone my skills and has helped me become the bartender I am today. 

Tell us about your journey in the competition, how was it like?
Hours and hours of prep work before hand all leading up to just 10 minutes on stage. Each challenge was so completely different and required an incredible amount of fine planning. I also loved being able to compete with the best bartenders from around the country, they are truly inspirational. We have all become like one big family.  I loved every moment of this competition. The judges were phenomenally hospitable and inspirational and it was such a pleasure to get to know them and work along side them.

Why did you participate in this competition?
I participated in this competition because World Class will always test all your skills as a bartender. You will always learn from your fellow competitors and having the opportunity to work with the spirits in Diageo's portfolio is always an absolute treat.

What are your proudest accomplishment as a bar man and in the competition? 
My proudest accomplishments include having opened up a beautiful bar in Rosebank during December 2016. Initially I was not going to enter WC because of the bar opening so for me to have taken Gold this year is an amazing accomplishment for me. 
I have also won 4 other cocktail competitions in South Africa. 

Define the perfect cocktail
Every one has their own definition of a perfect drink. Mine is one that takes me on a journey and is able to tell a story with its ingredients and presentation, complex or simple. An extra splash of tequila also wouldn't hurt. 

What is the most unusual drink request you have received in your career?
"I would like you to make me a drink that tastes like salt and vinegar chips, and it must make me sweat!"

What do you find inspiration from when fixing a drink for the first time?
Inspiration for cocktail making often comes from the context of the situation, but I find myself finding more and more inspiration from the culinary side of things. I will hear about strange and wonderful flavour combinations and that will often get me quite excited to start mixing things up. 

What would you say is your favourite thing working as a bar man?
My favourite thing about working as a bartender is the ability to learn and create. I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing people in my short career as a bartender and they are the ones that have guided me and inspired me. I love that you can express yourself in so many unique ways. There is so much to learn and I will never stop allowing myself to be taught. 

What is the one thing you wish more people understood about bartending?
That is a career. That there is a huge community and family that surrounds it. I would like people to look at bartenders like they do at chefs; men of discipline and craft.  

What is the advice you would give to someone who want to venture into being a bartender as his/her fulltime career?
My advice would be to learn the fundamentals. Read as many books as you can get your mint-slapping hand on. Don't stop learning. Ever.

Lastly, how are you going to spend the cash prize you won from this competition?
I will use the money to get ready for the World Class global finals in Mexico.

Julian Short walked off victorious after facing a series of challenges creating signature drinks for selected judges

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