A crafty cocktail connoisseur from Ayr has been crowned this year’s Buzzworks Iron Bartender at an annual competition held by the leading hospitality group in partnership with Flor de Caña rum.
Elaine Ward, representing The Tree House and T-Bar in Ayr, shook off competition from 12 entrants across the group’s portfolio to claim top spot for her ‘BBT’ black banana iced-tea inspired masterpiece.
The annual competition, which this year, was held at Buzzworks’ brand-new, purpose-built bar training facility at its central support office in Kilmarnock, challenged staff to show off their skills and create delicious cocktails that champion sustainability.
This year’s winning concoction featured recycled banana peel, which combined delicious home-made sugar syrup with banana tea and Flor de Caña sustainable rum.
Elaine’s creativity seen her walk away with the title of Iron Bartender 2023 and the top prize of an overnight stay and a trip for two to the Fettercairn Distillery in Fife, as well as a personalized bottle of 25-year-old Flor de Caña rum.
What’s more, her cocktail will be featured on Buzzworks’ autumn drinks list for guests visiting any of the group’s bars or restaurants to try for themselves later this year.
Elaine said: “I am delighted to have been crowned Buzzworks Iron Bartender of 2023 and had so much fun developing my skills throughout the entire competition process.
“Whether it was testing out my ideas, enjoying one to one mentoring sessions, presenting my final cocktail, or finding great friends amongst my fellow competitors, I made some fantastic memories and can’t wait to see my cocktail featured across the business later in the year.”
The competition was judged by Buzzworks’ Company Bar Manager David Howie; Bar Trainer Gavin Goslan; Flor de Caña UK Brand Ambassador Mateo Ortiz and previous Buzzworks Iron Bartender winner Grant Cameron.
Ahead of the event, finalists were provided with hands-on mentorship by David, who provided top-tips and expert advice to the team. He said: “This is the fourth year of our Buzzworks Iron Bartender competition, and the standard just keeps getting higher and higher.
“The event really gives our team the opportunity to challenge themselves and improve their skills, and I was so impressed by the originality and ingenuity shown by all of those who chose to take part.
“We were blown away by the creativity shown on the night, which made our job as judges extremely hard. There were sustainable twists on the classic espresso martini served in coconuts and innovative creations with an eye towards Nicaraguan culture, but in the end, it was Elaine’s banana inspired masterpiece that stood out the most.”