The 2018 Grand Prix Bar Team

12 Apr. 2018
Meet the crew that will keep the Grand Prix ticking

There would be no Havana Club Grand Prix without our Bar Team. Led by Dave Crompton and made up of very experienced bar people who selflessly accept to deal, out of the spotlights, with whatever Havana throw their way, they make the competition tick. First up, last asleep, they do what needs to be done and know what needs to be known. We’re very proud to introduce this year’s Bar Team.
Alexander Sourmpatis / Bar Manager at Hunky Dory Bar, Frankfurt, Germany
(Havana Club Grand Prix competitor for Greece in 2014, Bar Team alumnus 2016)
“Cuba brings back so many memories. My all time favourite experience in Cuba yet, is struggling 2000 limes in a car, WITHOUT them being boxed! And to name another one, hanging around with the members of the bar team, singing the song "Hasta que se seque el Malecón” under pouring rain in a local restaurant with Cristal beer and Havana Club rum.
The competitors have to get into Cuba’s rhythms and life. You can’t be yourself; Cuba is stronger. Live with it, enjoy it and take as much as you can from it.
The whole bar team will be 120% there to help you, because most of us have been in your shoes before. Whatever you need, we’re your ultimate bar backs and most probably the best you will ever have. USE us, we expect you to do so!”
Chloe Anderson / Highball Brands, London, UK
Chloe will have something in common with most competitors: it will be her first time Cuba, where she is “mostly looking forward to meeting and working with everyone”. (As a Londoner, she quickly adds “oh, and some sunshine”). Her experience at Bad Sports, the Hoxton cocktail / taqueria / sport bar spot will stand her in good stead at the Grand Prix. She expects the competitors to show passion and innovation and tells them to “breathe, smile and be yourself”. Words to the wise…
Jake O’Brien Murphy / Managing Director at Horatio Street Social Club, London, UK
(Havana Club Grand Prix competitor for the UK in 2016)
“My favourite restaurant experience ever was in Cuba. We first sailed the Gulf Stream catching fish and drinking rum. Then we headed over to Santi for dinner with our meagre catch. I’ve never seen so much seafood before, food just kept coming out of the tiny kitchen, we were drinking limited edition Havana Club. Half way through, a tropical storm hit and battered the canopy above the decking we were sat on. It was an experience that could only happen in Cuba. 
I expect the competitors to fall in love with Havana, that’s what happened to me. They should use the Cantineros, they know every inch of the city and their knowledge is invaluable.” 
Jhonny Rivera / consultant, Cali, Colombia
(Havana Club Grand Prix Wild Card in 2016)
As a competitor two years ago, Jonias, as his friends call him, has fond memories of “sipping Mojitos on the Malecón, singing and sharing with friends and local people”. He knows what it takes to reach the finals of the Grand Prix and has a special, cheeky recommendation to make: “If another competitor ask what you think of the taste of his cocktail, tell him that it's perfect, even it's not... That way you have more chances to win! Just kidding! Be yourself and let the Cuban vibes talk for you! Don’t stress. It’s a lot of smiles and great moments!”
Nawid Samawat / owner of Chicago William BBQ, Berlin, Germany
“What I love about Cuba is the way people roll – and going to the boxing gym. I expect the competitors to be well prepared ladies and gentlemen – and I expect them to make some very tasty beverages. They should remember that no matter how much pressure they are under – something will be ready when it’s ready! So always have a Plan C… and a plan D!”
Pavel Fernández / Vice-President of the Asociación de Cantineros de Cuba
(Insider #1 on our Bar Team!)
“Cuba is the cradle of many cocktails. I hope that competitors get to fully experience the Cuban way and incorporate their experiences in their cocktails for the Grand Prix and take them back home afterwards. They have to keep an open mind and be ready to dance salsa! Ask me where to go: I’m from Havana – so I know for sure that the best thing you can do is go clubbing at night in Old Havana – especially in bars such Dandy Bar and Jager Bull that are not so popular with tourists.”
Ramón ‘El Tigre’ Ramos / Chef and owner at Los Barcos Seafood Restaurant & Bar, Guadalajra, Mexico
(Bar Team alumnus 2012 and 2016)
“I didn’t know what to expect as a Mexican. I heard a lot about Cuba but didn’t know much about it. As soon as the driver showed up I felt like home. He took me to a local place to have guarapo (fresh sugarcane juice), I didn’t even know what it was. He didn’t have to do that, but he did and it was the most amazing welcome. And it set the tone!
Competitors should be genuine, open minded, creative. You need to think outside the box. A lot of the competitors are very focused in their own countries and bars and preparing everything and practicing with lots of their local equipment or ingredients and they forget they are in a different world here. They need to get involved with the culture, the music and the ingredients. At the competition, they should think as professionals. A lot of them follow new trends such as sustainability and working with what you have but once at the Grand Prix, their stress takes over! Just act as you do in your day-to-day work, be and precise and enjoy the comp. 
Reynier Ernest Rodríguez Rodríguez / Head Bartender, Melia Cohiba, Havana, Cuba
(Insider #2 on our bar team - he keeps his insights for the Grand Prix)

François Monti