Diageo Moet Hennessy (Thailand) recently hosted the final round of DIAGEO Reserve World Class Thailand 2019, the most prestigious bartender competition for contenders in Thailand, with support from Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) under the campaign “Amazing Thailand” to raise the standard of the cocktail scene and the empower the bartenders in the industry, as well as promoting Thailand’s tourism. As the final event concluded, the winner who will represent Thailand in the global final is 35-year-old bartender — Kitibodee Chortubtim. The award ceremony, with key figures and celebrities in the beverage industry such as Ronnaporn Kanivichaporn, Veerasak Chunhajak, Jane Kaewyod and others in attendance, was held on June 11, 2019 at the Grand Ballroom of Sofitel SO Bangkok.
The ultimate culmination of the prestigious bartender competition with contenders from all over Thailand, started off in January in Chiang Mai, followed by Phuket and Samui in February and concluded in Bangkok in April. The competition boiled down to 33 contenders who got the chance to participate in the Master Class to further enhance their knowledge, know-how and mixologist skills in World Class style. They participated in the semi-final round in May to be one of the seven best bartenders with talents and creativity to compete for Bartender of the Year title at the final round.
Mr. Alexander Carroll, Reserve Director, Diageo Moet Hennessy (Thailand) said that, “We would like to congratulate this year’s winner that will represent Thailand in the global final. Diageo Reserve World Class is the number one bartender competition that inspires bartenders in more than 60 countries all over the world. Thailand entered the program in 2011. It’s not just a process to select the best bartender from Thailand to compete in the global event, but it is also a platform to develop and further enhance the potential of participating bartenders from all over Thailand. We do hope that this program will help boost the potential and hone the skills and craftsmanship of bartenders in Thailand. The program will also give the winner once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete against bartenders from all over the world in the final competition in Glasgow in September.”
Contenders had to go through series of challenges and their creations were judged by a panel that comprised experts and revered figures in various business field. The winner is Kitibodee Chortubtim, 35-year-old Head Bartender of Liberation and Co-Partner of Backstage Cocktail Bar that had previously participated in World Class competition for six times and finally won the winning title.
“I made progress with every year at World Class, from top 30 to 17 and then on to top 4. I also won Bartender Team of the Year. Then I won third and second place. And finally, I won the first place this year. Most people would have given up, but not me. I have been in the bar business for 14 years. Sometimes I sat as a judge in a competition. Sometimes I went to see and for some I joined as contestant, which I enjoy most. Every contest is a competition with myself, to do better than last year, find my flaws and fix them and find a new way. I see this victory as a profit. Many people wonder why I would enter a competition like this, given my established status in the scene. They think I would only humiliate myself if I lose. I think the real loser is the one that doesn’t enter and only criticizing people in the competition.”
According to the winner, the most challenging part for him was the pairing of cocktail with Thai dish, which was “Lhon pu” (crabmeat and coconut dip) where he had to create a drink that cut the creaminess of the dish. Kitibodee took the inspiration from all the edible elements of the dish, except for the crab shell that he turned into mineral-rich broth with white turmeric and chamomile tea that goes exceptionally well with the unique characters of The Singleton of Dufftown 12 Years. The result was the cleansing, refreshing cocktail with pleasant floral notes.
Kitibodee will represent Thailand to compete with winners from all over the world in the global final in Scotland in September.