Winning bartenders. | Julian Aguirre


Another set of titles has just been won by bar managers at Ginbo and Chapeau in Palma, already proclaimed the best cocktail bars in the Balearics and among the best in Spain.

On Wednesday night, after months of preliminary rounds which started with winning the Balearic round and earning the right to represent the Balearics in the annual competition which pits the best bartenders in Spain against one another, Team Balearics dethroned last year’s winners Barcelona in the grand final of the Spirit Essence Olympics.

And three members of the team consisting of Matias Iriarte Turnes, Bert Krassimirov Slavov, Borja Triñanes Dieste, Toni Galmes Riera, Charles Harrington-Clarke and Mattia Verduci, walked away with personal bests. London’s own Charles won Best Cocktail, Borja Best Classic and Matias Best Bartender.

Yesterday, still reeling from the celebrations after having beaten teams from Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid in the finals (every autonomous region in Spain entered a team), the team was still celebrating and feeling very proud.

"We’ve all won awards as individuals but winning this competition for us and the Balearics is extremely important. You go into this competition as a team, it doesn’t matter if you are already famous and award-winning, it’s about working as a team and really showing what you can do, your knowledge of spirits and their history, it’s about being the ultimate professional," Matias said.

The final involved six rounds and a surprise seventh. The first was speed bartending. Six minutes at a station of spirits pre-selected by the judges and Matias had to make as many cocktails as he could in six minutes that people would pay for - he made eleven. Round two was to come up with two original non-alcoholic cocktails in six minutes. Round three was the classic cocktail challenge. The judges chose the spirits, so Borja had to be quick-thinking while sticking to original recipes. He made two classics to the perfect recipe using five spirits in six minutes.

Round four was the mystery box and using whatever was in the box. Toni had to make one alcoholic and one non-alcoholic cocktail against the clock. Charles stepped up for round five which was the new spirit challenge, making two cocktails of the latest fashion with the latest ingredients which he had to pick from a raffle.

The sixth test was a knowledge round. It was all about how to sell, explaining to the judges their knowledge about the spirits, what they were, where they came from, their history, age and how they can best be used. After having begun the competition at 4pm, at 9pm came the surprise final round.

Each team had to come up with the concept for a bar and run it, create the ambience and with each member of the team taking on a different role in the bar.

"We’re all so good at working together so quickly and thinking fast on our feet, we did that well. It was tough but it enabled us to show just how much experience we’ve got," Charles said. "We had to serve coffees, cocktails, you name it, just like any proper cocktail bar."

Apart from the team trophy and individual titles, Team Baleares also walked away with 15,000 euros. "Many of the top bartenders in Spain were competing, so we’re over the moon to have come away as winners and continue putting Palma on the cocktail map," said Matias.