An ice-cold cocktail on a hot summer day prepared by one of the world’s greatest bartenders is now available in Vancouver.
Fairmont Pacific Rim head bartender Grant Sceney finished in the top six at the Diageo World Class bartender competition in London, England, on Friday, beating out dozens of international competitors.
“I can’t even begin to describe this past week, it’s been mind-blowing,” Sceney said in an email to The Province. “It’s the most high-pressure and intense thing I have ever been through.”
Over the course of the week-long competition, 50 bartenders participated in blind spirit and cocktail tastings, a written test and nine cocktail competitions.
Sceney’s signature drink for the competition, the Inukshuk, was a riff on the classic prohibition-era cocktail the Last Word. His interpretation was made with Don Julio tequila, homemade Canadian chartreuse and a homemade blueberry liqueur.
It won him the competition’s ‘Written Word’ prize, awarded to the bartender who mixes the best literary-inspired creation.
Top prize went to Charles Joly of Chicago, whose cocktail ‘Above the Clouds’ helped him earn the World Class Champion 2014 title.
Sceney, a 26-year-old Australia native, came to work in B.C. in 2009, and has been at the Pacific Rim’s Lobby Lounge for about three years.
He’s worked in hospitality since he was a teenager but began focusing on bartending four years ago after working in Whistler for the 2010 Olympics.
Fairmont Pacific Rim general manager Philip Barnes called Sceney a “fabulous guy” with a “tremendous understanding” of herb, spice and food pairings.
“You get into a conversation with Grant about cocktails and your head starts spinning as to how he’s pulling all these flavours together,” Barnes said.
“We have a lot people come in who will throw themselves over to Grant and say, ‘Hey, make me something,’ because they’ve heard of him.
“He’ll talk to them, find out what sort of things they do and don’t like, and he doesn’t just pluck things off the shelf — he’ll create something specifically for them.”
Sceney acknowledges the importance of treating visitors to his bar like guests — not customers.
“Bartending isn’t just making drinks, it’s just a tool in your belt,” he said. “You have to think outside of the glass and be able to create a guest experience. Be genuine and have fun.”
Read the full story online at The Province.