KWV Brandy Futurist top five finalist Martin Strobos of Bar Solutions in Johannesburg
KWV Brandy Futurist top five finalist Martin Strobos of Bar Solutions in Johannesburg
Image: Supplied/KWV Brandy

Following a nationwide search, KWV Brandy, which was awarded the world’s best brandy at the 2017 International Wine & Spirit competition, has identified South Africa’s top five creative bartenders in its KWV Brandy Reimagined mixology competition.

In celebration of its centennial, KWV Brandy identified 20 bartenders to compete in the competition to win a limited-release bottle of KWV Nexus, valued at R24,000, and be crowned the ultimate KWV Brandy Futurist.

The battle for top five ran its course over the past two months and culminates in the grand finale taking place at House of Fire, the home of KWV Brandy in Paarl, on June 12.

Judges have included well-known cocktail expert Dom Walsh, of Mootee Bar in Johannesburg; S Mag editor Thembalethu Zulu; drinks writers Leah van Deventer and Jan Laubscher; KWV Brandy distiller Pieter de Bod and KWV spirits blender Ilse du Toit; singer and actress Bianca Le Grange; and lifestyle influencer Seth Shezi.

The panel was chaired by global cocktail competitor and judge Kurt Schlechter of Cause | Effect Cocktail and Brandy Bar in Cape Town.

KWV Brandy: the next century

Finalists from Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg had to compete for top spots in two regional competitions, held at Cause | Effect Cocktail and Brandy Bar, and Mootee Bar. Subjected to rigorous judging procedures, these bartenders were tasked with developing a cocktail that truly captured the KWV Brandy Reimagined tagline and set the tone for KWV Brandy for the next century.

Based on their overall scores, which included points for aroma, taste, appearance, balance, brandy pairing and presentation, KWV Brandy’s panel of expert judges were hard pressed to narrow down the search to the top five – who were selected based on their total score out of a possible 100 marks.

KWV Brandy Futurists revealed

Following the Cape Town regionals, and with an impressive show of creativity, Johannesburg and Durban bartenders added serious weight to the competition during the Johannesburg regionals. The individual scores from the 20 bartenders who competed in the Cape Town and Johannesburg regionals revealed that three bartenders from Johannesburg, one from Cape Town and one from Durban made it into the KWV Brandy Reimagined top five list.

The top five bartenders who will will compete for one last time at the grand finale on June 12 are, in alphabetical order:

  • Ahe Jafta, from Craft Link, Johannesburg
  • Bruce Dorfling from Lucky Shaker, Durban
  • Martin Strobos from Bar Solutions, Johannesburg
  • Maynard Booyzen from Sin + Tax, Johannesburg
  • Melrick Harrison from Twankey Bar, Cape Town

Jerome Adonis, brand manager for brandy at KWV, said the KWV Brandy Reimagined mixology competition showcased just how ingrained KWV Brandy was in the hearts of South Africans.

“It was encouraging to hear bartenders’ stories about KWV Brandy. Their cocktails were inspired by pleasant memories of social gatherings, braai fires and sentimental family get-togethers, for which KWV Brandy had a seat at the table," said Adonis.

"It was further genuinely inspiring to see what a respected brand it is, and how this drink, which is part of a 100-year-old brand, has evolved to remain relevant in the young and vibrant bartending market."

This article was paid for by KWV Brandy.

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