Cheers – a barman from Sheffield is celebrating after being crowned the best in the UK by his employer.
Russ Ward who works at T.G.I. Fridays, Tinsley, won the award for the second year running – sharing this year’s title with 27-year-old Ashley Morley, from Guildford.
They fought off competition from 300 other bartenders from across the UK in the restaurant chain’s annual UK Bartender Championship.
Russ, aged 31, become the first bartender in nearly two decades to successfully defend the UK title.
The winners had to demonstrate their skills in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 cocktail afficionados.
They had to show the ability to free-pour perfect measures without being a millilitre out – as well as knowing the ingredients of more than 700 cocktails available at the restaurant.
Russ won over the crowd with a number of signature moves including his cherry catch – throwing a cherry high into the air and then catching it on a cocktail stick held between his teeth.
Both Russ and Ashley will now take part in the firm’s world bartender championships in the US next year – an event entered by 8,000 bartenders from 60 countries.
Talking about his achievement after landing the title on Wednesday, Russ said: “The standard was unbelievable.
“I competed in the Worlds in March and one thing is for sure – the standard from all the UK finalists was right up there with the best from across the globe.
“I’m pleased to share the title with Ashley this year. With two Brits in the world finals there is a better chance than ever for us to bring the world title back to the UK.”
Ashley said: “Whenever I decide to do something, I give it my absolute all.
“I’ve been working incredibly hard to develop my cocktail knowledge and skills.”
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