Eric Martinez, a 26-year old T.G.I. Friday's restaurants bartender from Caloocan Manila, Philippines, was crowned "Greatest Bartender in the World" at Club Rain at The Palms casino resort in Las Vegas this week, following an intense finals competition between eight of the company's best mixologists from around the globe. Brian Zachau from Minneapolis was honored for the third straight year as the US Champion.
"This is a dream come true," said Martinez. "There is going to be a big party at the T.G.I. Friday's in Makati City when I come home because I am the champion of the world."
Nearly 8,000 Friday's bartenders from 58 countries entered this year's World Bartender Championship. The eight finalists exhibited their knowledge and showed off their flair through months of local, regional, divisional and national competitions to reach last night's finals.
"This event showcases why our bartenders have always defined the brand," said Richard Snead, president and chief executive officer of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, parent of T.G.I. Friday's. "They entertain guests with their great personalities and their ability to demonstrate accurate and precise mixology with charisma."
The finalists competed throughout the weekend in a variety of skills tests, compulsory and speed rounds, where they showed their mastery of bar mechanics, including technical knowledge and accuracy.
Sunday night's freestyle segment, where the competitors showed off their flair techniques of tossing, balancing, mixing and flipping cocktails and bottles in the air, brought the crowd of close to 1500 to its feet with applause time after time.
Martinez received a $10,000 cash prize, bragging rights and a place in Friday's lore as well as a propeller engraved with his name to hang above his/her home Friday's bar. The propeller is a Friday's icon which signifies the bar as the engine that drives the restaurant's energy and atmosphere. Propellers hang above the bars in all 871 T.G.I. Friday's locations worldwide.