His “Beat D' Heat” cocktail concoction coupled with his bartending flair earned Ronnie Guevarra the grand prize for this year's Bartender Cocktails Competition Burnett's Flavored Vodka Challenge held at the American Memorial Park on May 19 as part of the 14th Annual Taste of the Marianas International Food Festival and Beer Garden event.
Organized by the Northern Marianas Bartenders Association, this year's bartending competition drew seven challengers who all demonstrated their bartending techniques as they prepared unique cocktails using Burnett's and Coca-Cola products.
A panel of judges composed of United Filipino Organization president Bong Malasarte, Marianas Resort & Spa executive chef William Retardo, and Exclusive Beauty Guam branch manager Doris Barcial evaluated the entries based on originality, taste, showmanship, neatness, and audience impact. Arnel Diesta and Crispin Diesta served as tabulators.
Guevarra's summer-inspired creation-a blend of Burnett's Vodka, Bacardi Rum, orange curaçao, strawberry puree, mango juice, fresh orange juice and coconut syrup and garnished with fresh orange and strawberry-as well as his presentation earned the nods of the judges, who awarded him a trophy and medal, $75, a cellular phone from IT&E, and gift packs from DFS, Marpac, and System 4 U Total Cosmetic.
He also received other prizes for winning the Best in Taste Award.
Guevarra, food and beverage manager for Coral Ocean Point, said this was his first time to win in the Taste of the Marianas contest but he is no stranger to bartending competitions, having secured the top spot in the 2007 Bravo! Barista Illy Cocktail Competition on Saipan in July 2007. He represented the CNMI and Guam when he competed with 15 other bartending champions from around the world for an international title in September 2007.
In an interview after last Saturday's event, Guevarra said he prepared for the competition by trying out different mixtures of Burnett's Vodka and juices until he came up with the best-tasting blend.
Guevarra revealed that he didn't have plans to join the NMBA-sponsored competition but the staff and management of Coral Ocean Point rallied behind him and convinced him to join.
“Passion is really the fuel that guides me to compete,” Guevarra told Saipan Tribune, as he recounted the other bartending contests he has joined both on and off-island. “I'm proud and thankful that my bosses, my wife Mylene, my children Lester, Lawrence, and Katrina, and all my friends were there to support me.”
Other winners and participants were Saipan World Resort's Dindo Ferrer, first runner up and best in showmanship; Hyatt Regency Saipan's Alexander Mejia; Ocean Bar's Jay Santos, third runner up and best in costume/props; One Call Inc.'s Ramil Eustaquio; GIG's Eduardo C. Flores; and Bossano Bar's Mike Benavente.