The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Ricky Barbara crowned New Zealand’s best Heineken® bartender

Ricky Barbara with Franck Evers

After a nationwide search, Ricky Barbara from Trout Bar in Wanaka has won the prestigious accolade of the country’s top Heineken® Bartender at the Heineken® Star Serve Bartender Finals in Auckland last night.  Barbara will travel to Amsterdam in September to represent New Zealand at the Heineken® Star Serve Global Finals.

Barbara was one of six semi-finalists, from Invercargill, Wanaka, New Plymouth, Wellington, and the Waikato, who travelled to participate in the competition which saw them attempt to pour the perfect glass of Heineken® draught beer.

Heineken® Marketing Manager and competition judge, Taylor Green said he was extremely impressed with the calibre of skill in the competition.

“It was a very close competition with each finalist showing their passion and dedication to pour the perfect Heineken draught beer. Many people don’t realise what goes in to pouring the ‘perfect serve’ and how it can impact both the taste and the presentation of the beer. Heineken’s international Star Serve ritual ensures that bartenders from around the globe deliver a premium Heineken® draught beer every time, no matter where in the world you may be,” says Green. “We’re very excited and proud for Ricky to represent New Zealand on the global stage,” added Green.

Heineken’s global draught master Franck Evers was flown over from Amsterdam to be a judge, alongside former athlete Monty Betham who knows what it’s like to be under pressure. Finalists were judged on the five-step perfect serve – rinse, pour, skim, check and serve. Each step was to be completed flawlessly in order to pour and serve the perfect Heineken® draught beer – a small error in one of the steps potentially impacting the taste or presentation.

Barbara, who has been pouring beer at Trout Bar in Wanaka for a year, is thrilled with the outcome. “The competition was incredibly close so I am absolutely stoked to win. I cannot wait to see how I stack up at the world finals in Amsterdam later this year and I promise to do New Zealand proud,” says Barbara.

According to Evers, the perfect ‘Star Serve’ is imperative to tasting the best Heineken® draught beer possible.

“Heineken is brewed for 28 days with meticulous checks during the process to ensure quality but can be impacted in the last few seconds if it is not served and poured correctly by the bartender. The quality of the first beer will determine whether you order a second so the pour and presentation needs to be spot on,” Evers said.

The most important part of the pour is creating a healthy head of foam that protects the beer against oxidation, which preserves its unique aroma and fresh crisp taste. This foam should rest exactly on the shoulders of the red star found on the Heineken® glass – it is a pint that is appealing both visually and in taste.

Heineken® is served in 192 countries across the globe with New Zealand being one of the many nations that implement the Star Serve ritual within all their outlets. The crowned winner will represent New Zealand at the Heineken® Star Serve World Finals in Amsterdam this September where the best Heineken® bartenders from around the globe compete for the sought after world title.