After 365 days of playing second fiddle, Rodrigo Delpech is back at the top of his game.
After losing to Dario Doimo at last year’s Legends of Bartending competition, the stout-yet-flashy barman rallied at LAX late Tuesday night to reclaim his title.
“I won the first two rounds, and I feel pretty good right now,” Delpech said last night before the winners were announced.
The star Argentine bartender has been slinging drinks, juggling bottles, and otherwise impressing thirsty clients for years.
While the competitors seemed to make bottles dance in the air with ease, high-caliber flair bartending takes a lot of time and dedication.
“It takes a lot of practice. You practice every day,” Delpech said as he waited for a post-performance cocktail at the bar.
Moments later, the Flair Bartenders’ Association judges’ votes were tallied and Delpech was once again crowned “World’s Best Bartender.”
The win was Delpech’s fourth Legends of Bartending championship. And there was more than prize money and a trophy on the line: Delpech has a legacy to protect.
Doimo’s win last year was an upset: It was the first time someone with a last name other than Delpech had won the title since 2001. Christian Delpech dominated the contest from 2001 until 2004, when he passed the torch to Rodrigo, who maintained the flame for three consecutive years.
Between the two of them, brothers Christian and Rodrigo Delpech have, over the years, collected over $100,000 in prize money from the competition – and last night’s victory added another $10,000 to the bounty.
Doimo placed third in last night’s competition, behind Uruguay-born Danilo Oribe, who can be found alongside the Doimo behind the bar at Treasure Island’s Kahunaville most nights.
Delpech’s performance during the final round of competition involved plenty of bottle juggling – six 40-oz bottles at a time, at one brief point – and several stalls, as well as tricky catches, behind-the-back maneuvers and other showy moves.
The 11th annual competition awarded $30,000 in cash and prizes across three categories – pro, advanced and team. Seventy bartenders from 15 different countries competed in the three-day competition, with 19 participating in the individual pro division and 39 battling it out in advanced.
Miyuki Kamimura of Japan took the top spot in the advanced section, while team UPT won in the team division.
The contest was held in conjunction with the annual Nightclub & Bar convention at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Mandalay Bay Conference Center, which concluded Wednesday.