Bartender shakes up competition

A 19-year-old Tauranga bartender will take on the nation's best cocktail makers after out-shining more than 300 other entrants to make it into the semi-finals of the New Zealand competition.

Luke Wilson, who works at Za Bar on The Strand, did not think he would get this far when he entered The Beam Bar Legend but says he will make the most of the opportunity.

Luke Wilson, 19, will attempt to make the country's best bourbon and coke in the national competition.

Although he has only been bartending for less than two years, Luke jumped at the chance to enter the competition when he saw it on Facebook.

“You don't get anything out of it unless you try.

“I thought it was a long shot, but here I am. It's really exciting.”

From the 370 bartenders from across New Zealand that entered, Luke is one of 30 chosen to compete in the semi-final rounds.

Luke currently works part time at Za Bar while studying business at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic. He says making it this far is an “awesome” feat.

On Wednesday, September 12, Luke will travel to Auckland where he will undertake an on-camera interview with the Beam Brand Ambassador before presenting his interpretation of “the ultimate Jim Beam and Coke”.

Luke, whose favourite drink is bourbon, says he has some secrets up his sleeve.

“The base I'm going to be using is the Jim Beam Honey. I'll be presenting it differently to how people expect – in a champagne flute sort of thing.”

Following that, eight bartenders will be selected to participate in the grand-final in Auckland on October 7 and 8.

“I'd be stoked if I made it that far – there's a huge prize up for grabs,” says Luke.

The winner gets an all-expenses paid trip to the distillery of their choice, anywhere in the world and $10,000 in prize money.


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