Team Italy Wins the Cocktail World Cup

In the most fiercely contested competition in its seven year history, crowd favourites Team Italy won the 2011 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup on Monday.

Right from day one, Italy made up of Daniele dalla Pola, Alexander Frezza and Luca Sai established itself as the contestants’ favourite, each challenge bringing with it a new outfit and a new concept.

But despite their sartorial style, they remained at the bottom of the points table – until their flawless performance Monday. Their final drink ‘Elisir d’Amore’ was described by the judge Jacob Briars as ‘incredibly well balanced and totally surprising.’

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Earlier, the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) brought together 24 of the most talented cocktail creators to take center stage in a head-to-head cocktail competition. The idea was to select three bartenders to represent the United States on the brightest stage in mixology: the 2011 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup ‘Carnival of the Cocktail’ to be held March 14 to 20 in Queenstown, New Zealand. (Read: Cocktail World Cup to be Held in New Zealand)

Italy took home the prestigious title and the trophy by less than half a percentage point, with USA in second place and Scotland in third.

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USA were classy as ever with their delivery of their 1920’s inspired ‘P.T. Pear Fizz’ and Scotland produced ‘Let’s Get Fizzical’ in slightly disturbing black and white lycra bodysuits.

But the judges were unanimous in their praise for Italy, a team which judge Salvatore ‘Maestro’ Calabrese said perfectly illustrated the ‘brotherhood of bartending.’

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Not only did they produce a drink that pushed the boundaries of their craft, they delivered it as only an Italian can, with pure flourish. “All week we had been behind in the competition, we never thought we would win so we decided we would just have a great party. Our win means so much to Italy and Kia Ora Queenstown, we may well move here,” said Alexander Frezzai.

New York based judge and best selling drinks writer David Wondrich said the competition was the hardest he had ever judged, “the standard of the competitors and the competition itself is like nothing I have ever experienced before. I have been blown away by my week in Queenstown.”

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After a week of challenges in and around Queenstown the seven teams from London, Europe, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Italy presented their ‘signature’ drink to four judges including New Zealand bartending legend and 42BELOW global vodka professor Jacob Briars, Australian Bartender of the Year Jason Williams, cocktail author and historian David Wondrich and the ‘godfather’ of the UK drinks scene, Salvatore Calabrese.

The grand final event was held under a spectacular big top marquee at the Lake Hayes Showgrounds, just outside Queenstown, with hundreds of guests delving into the magical, mystical world of the carnival with an extravaganza of performers, sideshows and the best in mixology.

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Rakesh Raman