Wade Cleophas

Beating competition from over 2,500 entries across 13 different cruise lines, Wade Cleophas from Norwegian Cruise Line has scooped the title of 2017 Bacardi Legacy Cruise Competition Bartender of the Year, according to a statement.

The finals took place in Miami on Feb. 13 in a live competition judged by a panel of experts from the drinks industry.

Wade’s winning creation is the ‘Legend Reviver’ - inspired by classic cocktails with spices reminiscent of travelling to exotic places - featuring Bacardi Ocho Anos, mixed with star anise infused sweet vermouth, caramel/cinnamon syrup with drops of whisky barrel aged bitters and finished with a mist of Absinthe.

His perfectly presented cocktail was artistically finished off with a garnish resembling the sails of a merchant ship and the wings of the Bacardi bat.

Wade began his bartending career over 12 years ago, starting out in his hometown of Cape Town, progressing to work with many leading bartenders in Dubai and Miami, before joining Norwegian Cruise Line.

Zachary Sulkes International Key Account Manager (Cruise), Bacardi Global Travel Retail commented: “Wade's overall presentation and cocktail execution on the night were absolutely on point and he delivered a compelling story of reviving the legend of Don Facundo Bacardi. He cleverly connected it to his own personal story of travelling from port to port to find new ingredients to enhance the key ingredient of Bacardi Ocho Anos"

“Wade is a perfect example of the acceleration of standards in cruise ship bar-tending over recent years and he truly deserves his place on the world stage, sharing his creation at the global finals of the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition in Berlin in May.”

 Cleophas said: “This is such an exciting time for me, and moving on to compete in the global finals means for the next year I am regarded as one of the top bartenders in the world. I’m going to use the cash prize to treat myself to a long overdue holiday, having worked non-stop for almost a year without a break. Then I’ll be back to work refreshed and ready to continue my bright future with Norwegian Cruise Line – I couldn’t be happier to be part of such an amazing company that honestly feels like my extended family.”

A key element of the competition was the requirement for finalists to promote their cocktail around the world. In the three months that Wade was promoting Legend River Reviver, Norwegian sold almost 2,000 serves.

“We are incredibly proud of Norwegian Cruise Line assistant beverage manager Wade Cleophas for winning the 2017 Bacardi Legacy Cruise Competition,” said Karl Muhlberger Vice President, Food and Beverage for Norwegian Cruise Line. “To be deemed the very best among 2500 cruise line applicants is a testament to Wade’s dedication to his craft and the entire beverage team at Norwegian. We are thrilled he will be representing not just Norwegian, but the entire cruise industry at the Global Finals in Berlin.”