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.
The competition is increasingly popular and three more countries will be battling for the top prize in Singapore in 2010, said Derrick Lee, president of the International Bartenders' Association, who organized the competition.
Frenchman Daniel Crebesse, president of the U.K. Bartenders' Association, said cocktail-making was becoming all the rage.
"The bartender is a showman -- it takes going out for a drink to a new level," said the 52-year-old.
Editing by Steve Addison