The WFA World Series is an exciting new bartender competition format, introduced last year by the WFA and held in Manchester in the UK. Aiming to challenge bartenders across four key disciplines the World Series brings the whole experience around the product (the drink), back to the heart of where flair bartending started more than 150 years ago.
WFA Co-founder Andy Collinson, “We wanted to create a different event on the WFA calendar each year that gave all of our flair bartenders a chance to showcase their bartending talent alongside their flair bartending skills.
The World Series was about showcasing how flair bartenders are not only highly skilled in their accuracy and speed pouring but also in their cocktail making and the creation of an experience around the making and serving of the drink”.
“We want to champion the process of the cocktail being made as well as the experience of the cocktail being crafted in front of a customers eyes, as we understand the customer enjoys this experience as much as they enjoy drinking their cocktail. Similar to how we all enjoy watching a chef skilfully prepare our food – using a range of techniques – the final round in the World Series (the product experience round) is about the bartenders showcasing their creativity.
The challenge is to come up with a drink and a procedure around making that drink that people enjoy and forever associate with that cocktail.”
Different to most other WFA competitions, the World Series is certainly a bartending competition rather than specifically a flair bartending competition and contains 4 rounds: Free pouring round, speed round, craft flair and finally, product experience:
Round 1 – Free Pouring Round
In this initial round we start by testing the Bartenders basic and probably most used skill, pouring. Bartenders will race head to head on a selection of 10 different pours. A clean or perfect round will result in a score of zero. For each discrepancy a penalty score is applied.
The penalties acquired by a bartender during this round are totalled and converted into time (a number of seconds). This time is added to their total time for the round and carried through to the speed round.
Round 2 – Speed Round
Bartenders are required to produce a selection of drinks as fast as possible whilst maintaining perfect drink quality and a clean working environment. The bartenders will again race one on one starting at different times according to any time penalties carried over from the first round. Your first round score is all important here to make sure you can get off to a quick start in the Speed Round.
Round 3 – Craft Flair Round
Only the top 10 bartenders with the quickest time at the end of the speed round will progress to the craft flair round, so ensuring you give your best in these first 2 rounds is key. This round presents the quickest and most accurate bartenders to show off their Craft Flair skills.
Craft Flair is a different area of flair where flair bartenders perform smaller and more intricate moves as the time and space behind the bar during service is limited at the best of times, this is a growing discipline. Bartenders will be judged not only on their own original cocktail recipe, but their presentation, craft flair skills and technique.
Round 4 – Product Experience
Only the top 6 bartenders from the Craft Flair round will have the opportunity to compete in the fourth and final round – the Product Experience round. We are not just looking for an original cocktail in this round but also an original method for making and serving the drink – this could be a move or a technique, it could involve props or it may not.
The original product experience would be the blue blazer cocktail created by Jerry Thomas.
Your product experience should be something which will be associated with the making of your cocktail, so that when a customer orders your cocktail, they will expect to have that experience each time the drink is made.