Jessica Smit, Training Co-Ordinator in Greek Street and Regent Street Be At One, has been crowned the ninth winner of the annual Be At One Bartender of the Year competition in the final held at Be At One on Regents Street.

The competition is a company-wide initiative where all bartenders put their skills to the test in a number of challenges to compete for the £2000 prize plus a trip away. The award is designed to celebrate the hard work and talent from the Be At One team and showcase the ‘best of the best’ bartenders. 

Every bar of the Be At One estate is required to host an in-bar heat. Each team member must demonstrate their creativity, pouring skills and cocktail knowledge before a member of each bar is selected to go through to the next stage of the competition.

With over 600 bartenders, each stage of the challenge becomes progressively harder and after three semi-finals, only six members make it to the thrilling final where over 300 guests turned up to watch and support their local team member battle it out for the title.

During the final, Jess and her competitors were required to display their skills, knowledge, consistency and interaction whilst serving five perfect drinks in ten minutes to an expert panel of judges.

This year the judging panel consisted of Matt Fleming, Head of Drink Innovation at Stonegate Pub Company and Sarah Miller, Be at One Operations Director as well as three guest judges. This included Pernod Ricard Customer Account Manager, Melissa Phair, newly crowned 16th Best Bar in the world and creator of one of Coca-Cola’s new signature mixes, Max Venning as well as the Founder of World Flair Association, Andy Collins.

Matt Fleming said: “I am so impressed with the competition this year. The bartender challenge is in its ninth year and every year we see the bar raised in the standards of talent. We make sure to provide exceptional training to all of our team members and the challenge is an incredible opportunity for them to showcase the skills they’ve learnt.

“All of us here at Stonegate and the Be At One team would like to congratulate Jess. We were incredibly impressed with her showmanship, professionalism and skills throughout the competition. I’d also like to thank every member that took part in the challenge. It is great to see our staff get behind a company initiative which highlights the exceptional talent of all of our Be At One team.”

Jess Smit said: “I am so pleased to have won although I was shocked as the competition was fierce this year. I was initially very apprehensive for the final. I knew I was up against tough competition, but it was super fun and the crowd were amazing cheering us on.

“The competition truly brings everyone together and it’s a great opportunity to meet other members from different venues and celebrate the work that goes into a career as a bartender. As a Training Co-ordinator, I understand the intensity of knowledge and skills that every team member has to learn, and it is lovely to have a company initiative that recognises mine and everyone’s hard work.”