Inventor of the world’s first levitating cocktail the “Stealth Bomber”, Boilermaker House’s Jack Sotti has taken out 3rd place in the Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year Awards 2015. The World Class competition started in January with 5,000 bartenders, with only 54 making it through to the finals. Their tastebuds, speed and panache were put to the test over 5 gruelling days in the Cape Town competition. The top 6’s final challenge “Cape Town Shake Down”, in which they had just 24 hours to open a pop up bar saw Jack base his, the Royal Luminare, on the concept of Alchemy & Champagne. Jack finished 3rd, whilst Japanese bartender Michito Kaneko took out the top spot.
We sat down with Jack Sotti to find out what happened behind the scenes at the Bartender Awards as well as what’s in the mix for both him and the industry.
- By all accounts it seems you are living a bartenders dream. What inspired you to become a bartender?
When you’re young you never say, “When I grow up I want to be a bartender”. I fell into the hospitality industry and immediately fell in love with the service side of things. I also love to cook and play with flavours so bartending was the next logical step.
- You came third at the Diageo Reserve World Class Cape Town Finals. Which challenge did you find the most difficult?
Hands down the Speed challenge! Being a venue manager for the last wee while has made me a little rusty. You have got to keep up your game. The Retro, Future, Disco challenge was probably my favourite as I got to create my signature levitating cocktail made with Bulleit Rye whisky – this really blew the judges away and helped get me into the top three.
- Which challenge was your favourite and why?
I loved the ‘Ice-Breaker’ challenge, which wasn’t even scored. It was such a fantastic opportunity to build up some comradery with the fellow competitors, and also having the chance to meet and inspire some young South African bartenders who have literally just discovered the industry. It was a reminder to all of us about how far we had come and that was incredibly humbling.
- We saw on social media, that you created a hovering cocktail, how did you do it?!
Science!!! (A magician never reveals his secrets unless you come down to Boilermaker House, Melbourne – then maybe I’ll show you)
- What do you see as the next big trends in the bar industry and why?
The industry is going in every single direction but not just talking cocktails. The craft beer, wine & coffee movements are well underway and I’m seeing multi skilled hospitality professionals, baristas, sommeliers, bartenders and brewers all cross training and I feel like this is evident in our bars today. With a huge focus on provenance along with creative techniques we are learning from one another.
- What trend do you want to see come back in bartending?
Flair. I personally am rather uncoordinated when it comes to flair. But the restrained use of working flair when making drinks is something that needs to be championed.
- You’re now officially one of the best bartenders in the world, what’s next for you?
Now I’m going to champion World Class drinking, educating guests to drink in the right way. I want to continue my journey and start creating online videos to facilitate this.
- What is your favourite place to EAT in Melbourne?
D.O.C. I am obsessed with great Italian pizza & drinks and their entire gastronomic culture. D.O.C. embody this.
- Where is your favourite place to DRINK in Melbourne?
Eau de Vie. I love the finer things in life like great whisky, amazing cocktails, a charcuterie, dim lighting and sexy music. There are bars serving drinks, but then there is the experience of going to Eau de Vie.
- What do you do for PLAY when you’re not working?
I work a lot, but I love my industry so I am constantly trying out new bars and restaurants I haven’t been to yet. It’s a great way to push myself creatively and get a wider ranging perspective on my city!