The Havana Club Grand Prix Wild Card Competition

1 Feb. 2018
The last place in this year’s Grand Prix is up for grabs

We have a big event this year, you know… The 2018 Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix. It’s the 12th edition. Oh, we already told you? Don’t mind us. We might repeat ourselves a fair few times. Now, if you’re a cantinero and don’t want to just read about it because you’d rather take part, well, it’s very simple: you just have to enter the qualifications organized on your market, come up with the best drink, convince the judges and beat everyone. Ya está: the ticket for Havana is yours. Easy.
Alternatively, you can also enter our Facebook Wild Card Competition. Why would you do that? Maybe because you live and work in a market where Havana Club doesn’t organize a national heat. Or because Havana Club did, but for whatever reason you didn’t enter and are now bitterly regretting your lack of foresight. Or, finally, because you did enter, but you lost and you feel you can do better against the rest of the world than against your fellow countrymen.
And therein lies the catch: the Wild Card will pit you against bartenders from all over the world and you won’t get the chance to present your drink to the judges as they will recreate the cocktails themselves, based on your specs. This is a stringent process. And it has its benefits, as Anistatia Miller, the Grand Prix Head of Judges and one of the experts tasked with picking our Wild Card in 2014 and 2016 told us: “We’ve seen real talent shine from Wild Card winners who have scored incredibly well in the Grand Prix. So is it worthwhile entering the Wild Card competition? We think so, especially if you come from a country that does not conduct one of the regional competitions.” The Wild Card has been organized twice so far, and on both occasions the winner has made it to the finals of the Grand Prix – Australia’s Benjamin Tua in 2014 and Colombia’s Jhonny Rivera in 2016.
You’re in? The competition launches on the 1st of February and will run until the 1st of March. You just need to ‘like’ the Havana Club Grand Prix Facebook page (what?!? You don’t follow us yet?!?), access to our Wild Card website, answer a short quiz and upload your cocktail recipe, with a photo or a video. That’s it. In early March, our judges (yet to be announced) will pick the ten best recipes, prepare them and select a winner. The lucky entrant will be named later in the month.
What will the judges be looking for? “Imagination and originality”, says Anistatia. “We don’t want yet another twist on a Daiquirí or Mojito. Today’s Havana is bursting with new energy. Paladares and bars are combining techniques and recipes from other cultures with 100 per cent Cuban ingenuity. Imagine savouring sushi with a Cuban touch. We’ve done it in Havana. And we want to see how Cuban flavours, textures, and aromas are interpreted in other places and cultures.” Don’t forget though that the recipes will be made by someone else, so make sure your instructions are understandable and the homemade products simple to recreate. At the Grand Prix proper, the judges want a modern cocktail that is original, simple and replicable. If you get the Wild Card, you won’t have to make the same drink in Cuba, but it’s surely not a bad idea to have an eye on the global final when creating your drink for the online competition.
So, what are you waiting for, exactly? Head this way and get started!