Since 2009, under the premise of the Finest Mixing the Finest, the World Class competition has given bartenders all over the world a chance to put their skills to the test on the most renowned platform in the industry. This edition of the World Class Local Finals took place on April 29 at General Prim 32, where a crowd of connoisseurs and enthusiasts gathered to sample the skills of the candidates competing to represent Mexico in the World Class Global Finals, which makes its Mexico City debut in August.
The filters throughout the competition probed not only the contestants’ ability to mix a flavorful drink, but also their knowledge and capacity to deliver a well-informed concept.
After the preliminary stages, the top four mixologists who moved on to the Local Finals were Luis Frankiln from Limantour Polanco, Ismael Martínez from Hanky Panky, Jerzy Mejía from Guadalajara’s Galgo and Fátima León from Fifty Mils at the Four Seasons.
The finals provided the new challenge of creating a unique concept for their own pop-up bar where they would be presenting two different cocktails to the judges. A few hours later, the pop ups opened to the public and The News staff was able to enjoy the creations of these talented bartenders. The first stop was at Luis Frankiln’s nostalgic “Jelly Roll,” a jazz-inspired locale serving a refreshing blend of Tanqueray Gin, lime juice, syrup, white vermouth, Absinthe and red pepper syrup, topped with a touch of watermelon juice and soda. This complex composition of flavors called “The hot finger” was served in a highly Instagram-able presentation — the stirrer held a miniature instant photograph of the person who ordered the drink.
Next was the “Anglonquin” pop up, Ismael Martínez’s take on the look and feel of traditional pulquerías. Martínez mixed a bold drink composed of Johnnie Walker Gold Label, corn syrup and Campari; this concoction was served inside a green apple. A QR code pinned to the apple was supposed to reveal certain information about the drink. Unfortunately, after a few attempts using different phones to read it, the contents of the code remain a mystery to us.
Following the path of least resistance, we arrived to Fátima León’s “Atemporal” bar, a trendy yet down-to-earth space carefully furnished to be as welcoming as possible. Fátima’s drink dubbed “Mr. Bean” was both delicious and clever; a mix of Mezcal Unión, bean and Bourbon purée, lime and pineapple juice, hoja santa bitters, and a splash of tonic water served inside a paper bag and garnished with an hoja santa leaf. One of the most exciting features of Mr. Bean was its rich texture, a bubbly beginning followed by the handsome feel of the purée. Also, mezcal.
Last but not least was Jerzy Mejía’s colorful “Tucari” — life in Wixárika or huichol — a bar fully decked with huichol ornaments, skulls very dim lighting. Jerzy’s high-spirited temperament translated well into his drink called “Tziku,” an invigorating cocktail with rum Zacapa 23, yaca liquor, and tepache. The drink was guaranteed not to go warm since it was served in a small clay jarrito laced with a ribbon. We visited “Tucari” awfully close to the final minutes of life of all the pop-ups and the crowd gathered there suggested that we would very likely miss our chance at the eye-catching “Tziku.” Impatience started to fill the air but Jerzy, although visibly tired, showed his command of the crowd and sorted out the situation. His amazing sense of humor made sure everybody left with a great taste in their mouth, even if not with a drink in hand.
After discussing our personal favorites and trying to guess the best way to incorporate the flamed corn garnish into the Tziku, the judges gathered and were ready to announce the winner. We’re very proud to announce that our forecasts matched the judge’s decision: Fátima León from Fifty Mils. She will now move on to the World Class Global Finals in August, where no doubt she will once again prove to be the finest of the finest.