Banana peel wins it for Buzzworks’ new Iron Bartender

Buzzworks’ Iron Bartender Elaine Ward

AYR bartender Elaine Ward has won Buzzworks’ annual barstaff competition, leading the field with a sustainable – but reportedly delicious – cocktail featuring recycled banana peel.

Buzzworks’ ‘Iron Bartender’ finals were held in partnership with Flor de Caña rum, at the hospitality group’s new, purpose-built bar training facility at its central support office in Kilmarnock, where staff were challenged to demonstrate their skills by creating cocktails that ‘champion sustainability’.

Ms Ward, representing the group’s  The Tree House and T-Bar in Ayr, shook off competition from 12 of her peers to be declared Iron Bartender 2023 with a ‘BBT’ black banana iced-tea, incorporating the peel alongside home-made sugar syrup, banana tea and Flor de Caña rum.

Her prize is an overnight stay and a trip for two to the Fettercairn Distillery in Aberdeenshire, as well as a personalized bottle of 25-year-old Flor de Caña rum. Her cocktail will also be featured on Buzzworks’ autumn drinks list for guests visiting any of the group’s bars or restaurants to try for themselves.

Elaine said: “I am delighted to have been crowned Buzzworks Iron Bartender of 2023 and had so much fun developing my skills throughout the entire competition process.

“Whether it was testing out my ideas, enjoying one-to-one mentoring sessions, presenting my final cocktail, or finding great friends amongst my fellow competitors, I made some fantastic memories and can’t wait to see my cocktail featured across the business later in the year.”

The competition was judged by Buzzworks’ company bar manager David Howie; bar trainer Gavin Goslan; Flor de Caña UK brand ambassador Mateo Ortiz and previous Buzzworks Iron Bartender winner Grant Cameron.

Buzzworks’ Iron Bartender finalists … with winner Elaine Ward bottom left

Ahead of the event, finalists were provided with hands-on mentorship by David, who provided top-tips and expert advice to the team. He said: “This is the fourth year of our Buzzworks Iron Bartender competition, and the standard just keeps getting higher and higher.

“The event really gives our team the opportunity to challenge themselves and improve their skills, and I was so impressed by the originality and ingenuity shown by all of those who chose to take part.

“We were blown away by the creativity shown on the night, which made our job as judges extremely hard,” added David. “There were sustainable twists on the classic espresso martini served in coconuts and innovative creations with an eye towards Nicaraguan culture, but in the end, it was Elaine’s banana-inspired masterpiece that stood out the most.

“It tasted absolutely delicious and has a strong sustainable message which is a key focus for Buzzworks as we start our B-Corp accreditation journey.”

The group is currently recruiting bar team members and management at different levels across a range of venues, including its newly opened Scotts Greenock.