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Christian Barnett

The taste of victory

Tom sat down in front of us. It was the last time I’d see him before his presentation to Bacardi and I was trying to work out if he’d practised enough. I’ve seen thousands of presentations on a great number of things, but prior to this, the birth of a cocktail had been a new one.

Gary from Boutique Creative had brought me in to assist with getting the flow right, making sure the theme came through and to check Tom’s presenting skills. With our help the Savoy bartender had overhauled his original presentation, chopped 25 minutes down to 15, and 15 down to the required 5.

Like any mixologist worth his salt Tom Walker was confident when making drinks. He knew the science behind his art and did everything with a flourish of the hand. But creating a narrative for a marketing presentation was something else.

He was probably the first person to pour Bacardi into a glass in Cuba in 50 years. Within 9 months he’d had someone drinking a Maid in Cuba around every 20 minutes somewhere on the planet. 20,000 units, 42 menu listings in 22 different cities on 4 continents you can try here. The drink had generated over £40,000 for the American Bar in London’s Savoy hotel alone, and would be featured in the reprint of the Savoy Cocktail Book for the hotel’s 125th anniversary.

There were a lot of numbers to remember…

He was just starting to get going (I’d pushed the button on the stopwatch 10 seconds before) when I asked “How was your flight?” He paused to answer the question coolly. (I forget what he said.) The week before my question had tripped him up during practice. Not today. He was in the swing of it.

The future Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Champion left the office with a smile.

The great thing about working in the industry we do is getting to work with some of the most creative and technically excellent people in the world. Especially when they can get you a free drink.

Check out Tom and his Maid in Cuba here.

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