Palma should be proud to not only have the best bar in the Balearics, the best cocktail menu in Spain, but now also Bacardi’s best barman in Spain, Matias Iriarte, the co-owner of Chapeau along the Paseo Mallorca.
Mati, originally from Mar del Plata in Argentina, won the title on Tuesday night at the Bacardi Legacy Southern Europe finals in Madrid. He will now go up against 50 of the globe’s best barmen and women in the World Final in Berlin in April.
"I’m really pleased, but it’s not all over yet. I began concentrating on winning this title back in October and since then I’ve worked really hard. My Bacardi-based cocktail is called El Luchador (The Fighter). It tells the story of my life so far and it’s a tribute to the spirit of my family.
"My family moved here when I was 15 years old and at the age of 17 I decided to go out to work to help the family because my brother was suffering from Lupus. I started collecting glasses at Pacha and fell in love with the industry and went on to work at Puro, Son Net and Mood. Eight years ago, I became bar manager at Ginbo’s when it opened and during that time we went on to win a number of top national and international awards.
"Then, just under a year ago, I became the co-owner of Chapeau with Santiago Cebrián Morales who opened Ginbo. We specialise in fine whiskies from all over the world and a wide range of cocktails - obviously.
"But as part of the preparation for the final, I took my cocktail to some of the best bars in Europe, London, Berlin, Madrid and even back home in Argentina to show it off and test the market. Now, as the Spanish champion, I will have to tour the country on a kind of Bacardi road tour.
"It’s a great result for me, my colleagues, the bar and Palma. But it was not just about the cocktail. In the final, you have to present a marketing and promotional campaign to a special panel of judges. In the afternoon, you present your cocktail and also tell your story. Each person has seven minutes for each.
"I was attracted to the Bacardi competition because it’s one of the most prestigious brands of spirits in the world and I identify with its founder, Don Facundo Bacardí Massó. He was originally from Sitges, Barcelona but went to Cuba, fell in love with a local woman and went on to found the Bacardi rum distillery in 1862. The rest is history.
"It’s a bit like me. I came to this island from Argentina, fell in love with a local woman and had to fight to get where I am today, so I feel a connection with the Bacardi story. So it’s now all about preparing for the final which is going to be an amazing experience. And if I win, well, it’s going to throw my world upside down. OK, there’s no cash prize but that’s not what it’s all about. It’s about being crowned Bacardi’s best barman in the world, and the prestige and respect that come with that is priceless.
"Yeah, a lot of work will follow. I think the winner spends the following year touring the world, exhibiting the winning cocktail and promoting the brand. What Bacardi is looking for is the next classic cocktail which it can add to its world famous selection and I’m going to be fighting for that title, just like I’ve always done."