RPB Asia Bartender Invitational 2018 to showcase the different sides of being a bartender


Singapore will be playing host to the first-ever RPB Asia Bartender Invitational this July, with eight award-winning bartenders representing four cities in the Asia region compete over three days to see who’ll win the title of “Ultimate Bartender of the Year”.

Organised by events company Fun Size – the people behind The Bar Awards in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Macau – and run as part of hospitality trade event Restaurant, Pub & Bar Asia (RPB Asia) that’s taking place this year from 17 to 19 July 2018, the inaugural Bartender Invitational will see four teams compete over five different challenges that will test their strengths in the areas of creativity, hospitality, and teamwork, among others.

“We wanted to create an event that would bring individuals from all different bartending worlds together to unite, build friendships and inspire and be inspired by their peers,” says Tron Young, the main organiser and editor at Fun Size.

Each of the competing teams are comprised of a Bartender of the Year title winner from four of The Bar Awards’ cities, as well as a team mate they chose from the same city to represent that city in the competition.

The four teams are:

  • Team Singapore: Vijay Mudaliar of Native (above) and Singapore’s Bartender of the Year winner in 2017, and Steve Schneider of Employees Only Singapore, the winner of the Best Hospitality Team award in 2017
  • Team Kuala Lumpur: Kho Chee Kheong “CK” of Coley and Pahit (main picture) and Kuala Lumpur’s Bartender of the Year in 2017, and Joshua Ivanovic of JungleBird, the winner of the Best New Bar award in 2017
  • Team Macau: Nikita Matveev of Vida Rica, Mandarin Oriental Macau and Macau’s Bartender of the Year in 2018, and Koco Widyatno of The Ritz-Carlton Bar and Lounge, Macau’s Bar of the Year 2018
  • Team Hong Kong: Jay Khan of COA and Hong Kong’s Bartender of the Year 2018, Lam Ka Tsun “KT” of Zuma, winners of the Best Restaurant Bar award in 2018

The competing teams will undergo five different challenges – the Bar Theory Challenge, Classic Cocktail Challenge, Pop Up Challenge, Masterclass Challenge, and a Cocktail Party Challenge – each of which will put to test their skills in different areas of expertise.

A different kind of challenge.

It’s going to be a twist to the usual bartending competitions, says Young, because each of the challenges are specially and objectively crafted to test participants in the most realistic way possible. “The Classic Cocktail Challenge and the Masterclass Challenge – which will be held at the RPB trade show proper – will see the teams on stage in front of the judges and the show’s audience,” explains Young. “There is no way this simulates a real-time experience, so putting on a time limit on these two challenges is just adding unrealistic stress and is also a poor measure of a bartender’s speed. Here we want the teams to execute their classic cocktails and their masterclass well. We want to concentrate on testing their creativity, knowledge, leadership, specific skills and team work over these two challenges.”

On the other hand, he says, the Pop Up Challenge is perfect for assessing a bartender’s speed. “Here’s when real customers are ordering real drinks and have realistic time expectations,” Young posits.

The RPB Asia Bartender Invitational officially kicks-off with opening party on Tuesday 16 July from 7pm at Anti:Dote. Challenges will be held in various locations all over Singapore and in conjunction with the RPB trade show, 17 to 19 July.

The ultimate Bartender of the Year winner will be announced on the trade show’s last day, Thursday 19 July 2018 at 3pm. The full RPB Asia Bartender Invitational calendar below: