From left: Malic, Duenas, Grover

With more than 1,600 entries, the 2018 Bacardi Legacy Global Cruise Competition now has three finalists.

Now in its 13th year, the annual cruise competition is the longest-running cruise cocktail/bartender competition, setting out to recognize the best professional talent in the industry, where bartending standards continue to be raised from year to year., according to a statement.

Since 2016, cruise has been a dedicated sector of the global Bacardi Competition and this year’s cruise winner will go on to compete in the world finals in Mexico City in April 2018.

The three most promising contestants have been selected based on judging of their original Bacardi rum cocktail recipe, especially created for the competition.

The finalists are:

Dayonel Dueñas Gomez, Carnival Cruise Lines

Originating from Colombia, Dayonel has been in the bartending profession for five years and loves to share his combined passion for mixology and gastronomy in original cocktail experiences for cruise guests on the Triumph.  The inspiration for his Mamita Chula is fuelled by his mother’s influence in building strong family ties and the importance of food and flavors in creating a unique family legacy across the generations. Dayonel said: “Passion, love and devotion are at the heart of my recipes; I am really aware of creating a new legacy experience every time I make a cocktail.”

Shekar Grover, Royal Caribbean International   

 A Bachelor of Science graduate in Hotel and Hospitality Management from Gurdaspur in India, Shekar has been drawn to the art of mixology and innovation, especially at sea where he can express his love of travelling and discovering new horizons.  Hospitality is his natural arena and the bar his center stage as Shekar explained: "As soon as I step behind the counter I have a real sense of belonging. I love nothing more than working out the perfect blend of flavors and satisfying my curiosity, one cocktail at a time, on whether it’s best to muddle or to shake.  The Royal Legacy is inspired by the Old Fashioned, one of the all- time classics, a great drink which speaks for itself.”

Andrej Malic, Celebrity Cruises

With a long-time passion for craft cocktails and the mixology profession, Andrej started bartending in 2008, joining Celebrity Cruise Line in 2012 and has since become something of a competition veteran, reaching the finals of several bartending contests.  The inspiration for his Paloma Rica comes straight from the heart of BACARDÍ following his visit to the distillery in Puerto Rico.

Zachary Sulkes,International Key Account Manager (Cruise), Bacardi Global Travel Retail, noted: “As the Bacardi Legacy Global Cruise Cocktail Competition comes around each year, we are always blown away by the increasing standards of professionalism and the sheer ambition amongst the cruise bartending community to keep developing their craft.  Many leading cruise operators share our energy and commitment to this competition as an aspirational benchmark for their bartenders. No other brand or spirits company has engaged more with the cruise industry than Bacardi and we are really proud of how, with these cruise partners, we are collectively recognizing and developing up-and-coming talent, which in turn continues to elevate the on-board drinking experience.”

 The next stage of the competition sees finalists embark on a three-month promotional campaign to publicize and build support for their drink ahead of the cruise finals in Miami in February 2018. 

The winner will then go on to compete in the global finals in Mexico City in April 2018.  Each of the three finalists receives $1000 and a trip to Miami for the cruise finals.  The winner will receive a further $4000 and a trip to Mexico City for the global finals.