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Meet Joel Chirinos, the Peruvian bartender who wants to be the world’s best

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The world “improvisation” doesn’t exist for Joel Chirinos; he always has to practice before he takes the stage. That’s been his mentality ever he heard it from Arturo Sagage, the regional ambassador for Johnnie Walker, who spent time with him in Panama. Chirinos, bartender at Maras in the Westin hotel in Lima, begins his ritual.

Behind the bar, the 27-year-old carefully chooses his ingredients, sets them all out in front of him, looks everything over one more time, and begins to rehearse. Joel is always rehearsing these days. He’s looking for perfection, which is what he’ll need to win the World Class 2014 bartending competition, which will take place from July 28 to August 1.

The Maras bartender was chosen last may as the best bartender in the country at the World Class Perú 2014.

With that recognition under his belt, Joel moved on to the regional stage in Panama, where, after a week of training and passing tests alongside 11 different specialists from Latin America, he classified for the Global Final organized by Diageo Reserve.

*His experience in Panama*

Joel sighs; he doesn’t know how to organize his thoughts. His first journey abroad has been quite the experience, and the World Camp training was intense.

“We’ve been trained by former World Class competitors: Mario Seijo, who won the Latin American division last year; Simon Crompton from the Cayman Islands; Heinz Kaiser, the Speak & Taste champion; Deniss Zoppi, who is just a rockstar in the cocktail world [and from whom I learned to be meticulous and to always have an explanation for everything; Arturo Savage; Dennis Tamse, vodka specialist; Pablo Carrizo, from Colombia, who was our chaperone; and Spike Merchant, the global ambassador for World Class,” explained Joel.

The 11 participants from Latin America would sit through a class, and immediately afterwards would have to pass a challenge. Then the instructors would give their criticisms, and then a minute later they’d have another test, to see if they were able to learn quickly and correct errors.

Now, Joel is getting ready for the second big trip of his life. It’ll be a long one– on July 25, he’ll get on a plane with a final destination of Scotland, where there will be two challenges, and then to London, where, after a third challenge, judges will choose the 16 top bartenders out of 50.

Joel will compete, but he’s going to be happy no matter what happens. He’s already won.

A look at the champs

Spanish bartender David Rios won World Class in 2013, and was also named the best in Spain. Puerto Rican bartender Mario Seijo, American Jeff Bell, and Japanese bartender Tsuyoshi Miyazaki were also recognized.

According to representatives from Diageo Reserve, “the title of the Best Bartender in the World 2014 will confer upon the winner a life-changing voyage, in which they will spend a year being a brand ambassador and share their mixological experiences with the whole world. It will be an opportunity for them to perfect their skills as well as to inspire new talents.”Joel Chirinos has his sights set on a prestigious title.

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