James Irvine finishes in the Bacardi Legacy top three

04 May, 2018 by Andy Young

James Irvine took out a top three finish in the 2018 Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition with his Bocado cocktail, losing out to eventual winner Eric van Beek from Netherlands.

Van Beek won the competition with his Cariño cocktail, a shaken drink combining Bacardi Reserva Ocho rum with Yellow Chartreuse, Greek yoghurt, vanilla syrup and lemon juice.

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The Dutchman has only been a bartender for two and a half years and was understandably delighted with his win.

“So, I just won the tenth edition of BACARDÍ Legacy and it feels absolutely amazing; it’s such an honour now to be one of only ten people who have won this competition,” van Beek said.

“This whole week has been incredible, I’ve met a lot of people, I’ve learnt a lot about myself and collaborated with others; it really has been an insightful week. When they announced I was the winner I was thinking ‘this is a dream come true, this is not happening.’ Everybody was mobbing me and shouting ‘Cariño’ – it’s an indescribable moment, but I will cherish it.”

As Eric’s prize, Bacardi will offer year-long support to further his career as a bartender by creating experiences tailored to meet his career goals, gain worldwide recognition for his drink and provide a platform from which he will serve Cariño at some of the finest bars in the world.

Although he missed out on the top prize, Irvine increased his strong reputation within the industry with a top three finish. In addition to winning the Australian Legacy competition, Irvine was named as the Bartender of the Year at the 2016 Australian Liquor Industry Awards, Time Out Best Bartender in 2016 and also won the 2016 Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge Australia.

Following his top three finish at Bacardi Legacy, it was revealed that Irvine has landed a new role, and will next week start as the Creative Director at Four Pillars.

Irvine’s new role will encompass many elements of the Ambassadorial role held by Sammy Ng until his departure to Singapore last week to become Four Pillars’ first Asia-based Ambassador. Irvine’s role will include educational elements, on and off premise training, bartending shifts and getting started on creating the ultimate Four Pillars Drinks Lab which will be up and running some time in 2019.

“It seems great things happen to me when I go to Tales of the Cocktail,” Irvine said. “The first time I went was in 2014, I had a pretty hectic week and returned home with my dream job at Swillhouse. Then in 2016 I met Stu Gregor for the first time over a few Miller Hi-Life’s, we then collaborated on a gin in 2017 and now look where I have landed.”

“If working with the legends at Swillhouse was the dream bartending job then this might be the same from a brand perspective. To work on an Australian brand that I know so well and genuinely love with a passion is a truly epic opportunity. And to help create the Four Pillars Drinks Lab here in Sydney, will be incredible fun,” Irvine added. “And getting down to Healesville as often as possible and working with the distillery and bar team there, will be an added bonus.”

Four Pillars co-founder and Trade Director Stuart Gregor said he was excited to be working with someone he has long admired.

“We’ve known each other for a few years and once we knew Sammy was heading to Singapore, James was our clear favourite for the job. The fact he is a pretty handy bartender, great bloke, incredible communicator and the only member of the trade shorter than me, are all terrific attributes for sure, but I have to be honest, it’s the fact that he knows his Ollie Florent from his Benny Ronke that got him the job in the end.”