Chivas Regal has crowned Alejandro Millan Ponce de Leon from Instituto Culinario de Mexico and Bootlegger in Puebla, Mexico as the 2016 Chivas Master. The first major bartending competition to be held in Shanghai saw Alejandro overcome fierce competition from 14 of the world’s most innovative bartenders over a five-day final.
Alejandro also led a group of fellow finalists to victory who, as a team, were awarded the title of ‘Chivas Masters Collective’ for their pop-up bar, The Beach Brothers @ Logan’s Punch. The team, comprising of Santiago Ortiz Jacome from Spain, Ben Rojo from the United States, Stanisław Domin from Poland, and Tomáš Melzer from Czech Republic will all embark on a once in a lifetime trip to the Tales of the Cocktail 2016 festival in New Orleans to learn from some of the industry’s most renowned bartenders.
Due to his team spirit, hospitality and outstanding drink creations Alejandro was awarded the overall Chivas Masters title. The expert panel of judges were impressed by Alejandro’s winning local cocktail, ‘El Jornalero’, which displayed a culinary connection with his region’s indigenous ingredients and showed a great authenticity tying it to the roots of his Mexican culture.
The accolade of Chivas Master will take Alejandro on a bespoke trip to one of the world’s most iconic bars in a city of his choice to create a signature Chivas cocktail as a lasting contribution to the global competition.
The 2016 Chivas Masters judging panel boasted some of the world’s top industry leaders: Chris Lowder, head bartender at the Four Seasons in Seoul; Naren Young, head bartender at Dante in New York City; industry legend Dre Masso; and Leo Robitschek, bar director of New York’s Eleven Madison Park, who each coached the finalists in a series of workshops and judged competitors on their bartending talent and ability to lead, mentor and inspire a team.
The global Chivas Masters final in Shanghai has opened my eyes and I hope that I have shown just what Mexico can do. It is a huge honour to hold the title of Chivas Master.
The support of my team in Mexico and the amazing bartenders around me here at the global final has showed me that true brotherhood exists, and being able to work with these people is a great privilege.
– Alejandro: 2016 Chivas Master
The third year of the Chivas Masters global bartending competition has shown the world that a great cocktail is more than just an exceptional spirit base, which is of course essential: teamwork and collaboration are also key components in delivering a memorable drinking experience.
Our winner Alejandro epitomised these values, underpinned by truly outstanding bartending skills – a worthy winner, supported by his team.
– Max Warner: Global Brand Ambassador for Chivas Regal
The 15 competing bartenders earned their place at the global final by impressing at national heats, where they were challenged to recreate Chivas Regal’s journey across the globe. Creating serves that were inspired by the classic cocktails of New York to the booming bars of Shanghai via their home country, all cocktails were designed to enhance Chivas Regal’s smooth and generous house style – a feat that the bartenders were asked to replicate in the Chivas Masters global final this week.
On behalf of the wider judging panel it was fantastic to see such a resourceful, innovative and skilful group of bartenders competing – all of the finalists in Shanghai proved themselves to be at the top of their game.
However, Alejandro is a fantastic winner, both due to his exceptional talent behind the bar and his camaraderie throughout the finals. I can’t wait to see how his career progresses – I expect great things.
– Dre Massor