Alain Dauvergne, mixology trainer at Institut Lyfe, claimed victory at the 2023 French Cocktail Championship last June. The win automatically qualified him for the IBA World Cocktail Championship, to be held in Rome from 28th November to 2nd December 2023. Ahead of this world-class competition, Institut Lyfe spoke to Alain about his work since winning the French event.
In June, you won hands down at the French Cocktail Championship, organised by the Association of Barmen of France. What’s been happening since then?
The themes for the World Cocktail Championship arrived at the end of September, so I had two weeks to send in the recipe I would be proposing for the first part of the competition, which had to comply with the guidelines.
How does this new competition work, and how is it different from the French contest, organised by the Association of Barmen of France?
The French national competition is based on the same structure as the IBA (International Bartenders Association) competition, but the level of excellence is higher for the international version, given that the best candidate from each country has been selected. Sixty-five countries are represented, and each country organises its own national selections.
The competitions take place over three days.
For the first stage, the competing countries are divided into different categories: sparkling, low alcohol, fancy, before dinner and after dinner. France has been drawn in the “After Dinner” category, competing against 12 other countries. There is no set theme, but each participant must use a product from one of the competition sponsors. The competitors have to make five cocktails, add decoration or garnish to the glass, and present their creation within the allocated time. After this first round, the top three from each category will move on to the second stage, with 15 contenders therefore progressing to the semi-final.
The semi-final consists of three challenges: a sensory analysis, a knowledge test and a speed test, where the mixologists must create five cocktail recipes within the set time limit.
The top three contenders are then selected for the final, which consists of crafting a cocktail where the theme is open, but in accordance with the rules of the competition – so again using a product from one of the sponsors.
The final isn’t the most complicated of the tests, because the hardest part is over. You have to prepare a cocktail that really reflects you, communicating your emotions to get a message across.
How will you prepare for this competition?
For the cocktail creation phase, I had to find the right inspiration, the right dynamic, something that appealed to me but would also appeal to an international jury.
This was followed by lots of practice and training. I went to Paris to finalise the recipe and structure it in the best possible way. I did a lot of training so that my movements would be fluid and I knew the recipe by heart, so that I could concentrate exclusively on the audience and the jury.
I’m lucky that Institut Lyfe is supporting me in this competition and giving me the opportunity to train for a contest of this calibre. I’ve been coached by Philippe Rispal for more than 13 years now.
What are your next steps and objectives?
My goal is to apply for the MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France, or best craftsperson) Barman competition, which I did a few years ago without really preparing for it. It was my first experience of the world of competitions, as well as the standards required to reach the highest level. Now I know what’s expected of me for this type of competition and I’ll be as well prepared as I possibly can for the next edition of the MOF Barman.