A 27-year-old bartender from Dublin will be mixing up drinks inspired by Ireland at the World Class Global Bartender of the Year 2021 competition.
Cal Byrne, a barman at the Blind Pig Speakeasy in Dublin, will be serving a flavor of drink infused with natural dyes used in Irish wool jumpers as part of his entry at the world cocktail-making contest.
Byrne picked the novel ingredients as a way to highlight his project to connect artists and traditional craftspeople whose livelihoods have been hit during the pandemic.
Born to a family of practicing artists, Byrne spent his youth living between the bustle of Dublin City and the serenity of the Irish countryside. Having attended art college to study sculpture and fine art, Byrne then committed himself fully to the craft of bartending.
View this post on Instagram
He will be among 50 finalists competing at the first-ever virtual version of the World Class Bartender of the Year finals this week.
In a nod to his initiative, he will be representing Ireland at the finals wearing a jumper made by his friend, Co Donegal knitwear designer Aisling McCallion.
And the natural flower-based ingredients used to dye the wool have inspired a cocktail he will present to the judges.
“I found out that all the materials that the dyer ladies in Ireland used to use are all edible and quite nice, so I made a drink to go alongside the jumper that is made with the ingredients used to dye the jumpers, so I’m pretty happy with that. I think that’s a pretty fun one,” he said.
Rather than making cocktails in person, finalists are presenting remotely to a panel of judges based in London, with the help of ‘avatar’ assistants who will mix the drinks on their behalf on site.
After a year's pause due to the pandemic, the virtual format of the 2021 contest is in keeping with a trend that emerged in lockdown – the increased popularity of online bartender demos to help people create cocktails at home.
This move to more at-home drinking, and also a growing preference for low-alcohol brands, will be among themes explored at an event focused on how the drinks industry will have to innovate and adapt following the pandemic.
The global finals can be viewed online this week here.