/PR Newswire Publications/
For the second consecutive year, the 2017 finale took place at the home of BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin. After an invigorating four-day cocktail showdown, where the top 12 finalists stirred creativity to present their most inventive works of art in a glass, Pierce galvanized judges as the most imaginative. As a result of her win, Pierce will become GQ Magazine's first official "Bartender in Residence" – collaborating on a new series of innovative cocktail videos, and act as in-house cocktail and culture expert throughout the year for GQ, as well as other Conde Nast publications.
On Monday August 21, the 12 competing finalists converged at the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE BREEAM-certified Laverstoke Mill Distillery in Hampshire, England, to embark on an immersive experience with the brand. Led by Sam Carter, the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin Senior Ambassador of Laverstoke Mill, Global Ambassador Raj Nagra, and North American Ambassador Gary Hayward, the 12 finalists received a first-hand engagement with the gin's unique vapour-infusion distillation process and the ten exotic botanicals showcased within the dazzling dual-climate glasshouses.
The competition portion officially commenced on Tuesday in the heart of London, where bartenders competed in the first-ever "Artistry Challenge" that included a 1-hour curated tour of one of London's famous art galleries. The finalists selected works of art which served as an inspiration to craft their creative cocktails. Annie Williams Pierce snagged the win after masterfully concocting an avant-garde recipe, illustrating the collision between art and mixology.
Additional challenges included "The On Air Challenge," which put the competitors' presentation skills to the test – prompting their ability to create a recipe while engaging an audience during a filmed demonstration.
Tampa Bay's Brenda Terry took home the win for this challenge as she lit up the screen with her effortless instruction and charismatic personality.
To heat things up, the 12 finalists were also tasked with designing a bespoke cocktail menu at a top London bar for the "Guest Shift" challenge. Each bartender had the day to source local ingredients throughout to the city in order to batch and prepare three different gin-forward cocktail recipes for their menu. Las Vegas' SeongHa Lee earned the top scores for this challenge.
In London during the "Final Cocktail Showcase" at the Connaught Bar, each finalist presented an original BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Gin cocktail while sharing the inspiration for their unique creation.
New York's Luis Hernandez was named the last individual challenge winner of the competition.
During the closing awards gala, the esteemed panel of judges including Hayward, acclaimed New York mixologist and Pouring Ribbons founder Joaquín Simó, as well as USBG Southwest Regional Vice President and Phoenix beverage consultant Kim Hassarud, came together to name Pierce as the 2017 North American Most Imaginative Bartender winner.
Pierce reveled in her victory after the announcement stating, "Being honored and celebrated this evening for my creative passion is a feeling that I will never forget. The Most Imaginative Bartender Competition really pushes the boundaries of what cocktail making can be and being able to flex my creative muscles is one of the main reasons I chose to embrace this craft in the first place. I'm still reeling from the week's events but can't wait to experience all of the invaluable opportunities that this title will open up for me."
"We are thrilled to announce and celebrate Annie as the 11th annual winner of the Most Imaginative Bartender program; Annie exhibited an extraordinary level of imagination in this year's competition." says Tom Swift, North America VP, Managing Director for BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin. "Each year of the program, emerging talents from across North America continuously showcase cocktail making as a pure art form, exhibiting cutting-edge levels of craft and imagination. The innovative work of these bartenders continues to propel this industry forward."
Annie Williams Pierce's' final cocktail recipe:
London x Tokyo
1.75oz Bombay Sapphire Gin washed with Persian lime infused olive oil
1.33oz Blanc vermouth infused with sugar snap peas
Shiso olive oil
2017 MOST IMAGINATIVE BARTENDER FINALISTS
- Chris Morris | Houston, TX
- Annie Pierce| Columbus, OH
- Adam Robinson | Portland, OR
- SeongHa Lee | Las Vegas, NV
- Eric Jeffus | Chicago, IL
- Eddie DiDonato | Burlington, VT
- Collin Nicholas | San Francisco, CA
- Brenda Terry | Tampa, FL
- Brittney Olsen | Los Angeles, CA
- Luis Hernandez | New York, New York
- Andrew Lue | Miami, FL
- Timo Salimaki | Calgary, Canada