Asif Khan and Angelo Van Rooyen collaborated on the winning entry. Asif Khan and Angelo Van Rooyen collaborated on the winning entry.

The final of the UAE Glenfiddich Experimental Bartender competition took place on September 13 at Le Cirque at The Ritz-Carlton DIFC.

As was the case in the first round, each contestant was tasked with creating a distinctive drink in conjunction with a collaborator, beit a chef, artist or an organisation. They then had 20 minutes to present their final concepts and cocktails.

The contestants were judged in the following categories — Maverick Mark, Liquid, Level of Experimentation, and Level of Collaboration.

World brand ambassador for Glenfiddich, Struan Grant-Ralph flew in especially to judge the competition along with Caterer Middle East editor Claudia de Brito, Ganesh Iyer, CEO of FLC and last year’s UAE winner — Emilio Valencia.

The five bartenders competing in the final were:

  • Sudeera Lakmal, Gold On 27, Burj Al Arab
  • Jinobin Thomas, Rang Mahal, JW Marriott Marquis
  • Angelo Van Rooyen, Carnival by Tresind, Burj Daman Building
  • Santanu Chanda, Buddha Bar, Grosvenor House
  • Ruslan Svezhenko, Bar 44, Grosvenor House


Angelo Van Rooyen was named the winner on the night, impressing the judges with his concept, knowledge of the brand, attention to detail and the visual impact of the Glenfiddich-style stag head that he produced in conjunction with his collaborator — sculptor and carpenter, Asif Khan.

Van Rooyen will go to the global final in Scotland, where he will compete against finalists drawn from all over the world to take the top prize and make his experimental concoction famous across the globe.

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