Berlin crowd shaken and stirred by cocktail champs

Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:45am EDT
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By Caroline Copley

BERLIN (Reuters) - Bartenders from around the globe thrilled Berlin crowds with breathtaking routines as they juggled, shook and stirred their drinks in a quest to become the 35th world cocktail champion.

More than 800 hopefuls from 52 countries competed in two categories: "classic," where suited bartenders aimed to tipple the judges' taste buds and "flair," where competitors performed jaw-dropping routines to backing music.

Dressed in a felt hat, Gianluigi Bosco, an Italian living in Britain, claimed the "flair" crown on Tuesday night with his "Absolutely Rocking" cocktail -- a concoction of vodka, apple juice, mango puree, and vanilla, garnished with apple, redcurrants and a wedge of lime.

"I can't believe I'm the champion," Bosco told Reuters, beaming at photographers and wrapped in a Union Jack.

"I knew I had a good drink, but when I arrived I thought I'd be happy just to make the final," he added.

Slovak Vladimir Banak won the classic cocktail competition with "Sweet Road" -- a sumptuous mix of raspberry vodka, blackcurrant, fruit liquor, vanilla, cream and cocoa powder.

Earlier, the home crowd faced an anxious wait when Germany's twice-former champion Levent Yilmaz injured his shoulder mixing drinks, raising doubts about his participation in the final.

Having called in an Olympic trainer, Yilmaz received a shot in the arm and stormed onto the stage to the delight of locals, who cheered ecstatically as he flipped bottles one-handed behind his back and balanced a shaker on the bridge of his nose.   Continued...