“One moment, one encounter.” The Japanese Ichi-go Ichi-e philosophy is the guiding principle behind the Nikka Perfect Serve bartending competition. Every encounter is unique and can never be repeated, and so we must give our very best at all times.


Unlike other bartending competitions, The Nikka Perfect Serve encourages bartenders to place the guest at the heart of the bar experience. Bartenders must be attentive and aware of their guest’s presence, state of mind, and palate in order to offer the most suitable service and cocktail at that specific moment. The process is as important as the cocktail itself.


As in previous years, the contest will continue to focus on omakase: “I leave it to you.” Judges playing the roles of indecisive customers will act as different characters, and ask the bartender to improvise a bespoke Nikka cocktail or whisky serve.
Experienced bartenders will have a large repertoire of cocktail recipes in mind at all times, and will be able to choose, twist and adapt them to serve the most appropriate Nikka Whisky cocktail for each situation played out by the judges.


The 2016 edition will add an extra challenge, by asking participants to limit their cocktail recipes to the essential ingredients available at most bars. Without relying on rare or homemade ingredients, or special glassware, bartenders will have to draw only on their knowledge, skill and experience to act spontaneously and create a truly magical moment.

“Because tending bar is really about tending to humans with hospitableness, and establishing a memorable, authentic interaction.”


Judges will play the roles of guests and act out different scenarios.

For 15 minutes, you will be a bartender to 3 judges at the same time, as if in a real bar situation.
Judges will score participants based on the entire experience: service, hospitableness, attention to detail, product knowledge, as well as the choice of and quality of the cocktails.


The first two judges will ask you to prepare a Nikka cocktail (one cocktail each), which you should improvise based on the role they are playing. These can be classic cocktails, originals or twists, based on ingredients available at the hosting bar, and one of the available Nikka Whiskies.


The third judge will ask you to serve him/her a whisky, which you should choose for them from the 5 available Nikka based on the role they are playing, and served in the most appropriate way (straight, rocks, etc.).


Participants may not bring their own bottles, homemade ingredients or glassware. All you need are your bar tools.
Common bar ingredients will be available, including the following Nikka Whiskies:

. Nikka From the Barrel
. Nikka Coffey Grain
. Nikka Coffey Malt
. Yoichi Single Malt
. Miyagikyo Single Malt

Note: The selection of whiskies may vary depending on market availability.


The winner of the local contests will represent their country in the European finals on November 28th 2016. The winner and runner up of the finals will be invited on a trip to Japan to experience the Tokyo bar scene and visit the Nikka distilleries: Yoichi and Miyagikyo!


. France – Marseille, April 25th
. UK – London, July 11th
. Sweden, Norway, Finland & Denmark – Stockholm, Sept. 7th
. Poland – Warsaw, Sept. 13th
. Italy – Milan, Sept. 19th
. Czech Rep., Slovakia & Hungary – Prague, Sept. 21st
. Portugal – Lisbon, Oct. 17th
. Spain – Madrid, Oct. 19th
. Germany & Austria – Hamburg, Oct. 24th
. Greece – Athens, Nov. 1st
. EUROPEAN FINALS – Rome, Italy, Nov. 28th


Stanislav Vadrna, Nikka Whisky EU Ambassador, will hold a “Keep the Focus. Hold the Vision. Trust the Process” presentation in each participating country several weeks before the contest, and will introduce the contest, and the omakase concept so that you may prepare for the contest accordingly. Please contact your local Nikka Whisky distributor for dates.



Winner: William Hetzel
Runner up: Krisztián Csigó


France William Hetzel Bar Termini, London (Previously of the Bar 8 du Mandarin Oriental, Paris)
UK James Bowker The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel and Cocktail Lounge, Birmingham
Belgium Vitas Van de Cauter Uncle Babe’s Burger Bar, Ghent
Hungary Krisztián Csigó Boutiq’Bar, Budapest
Denmark Goran Aziz Strøm Bar, Copenhagen
Italy Luca Cappietti Stravinskij Bar at Hotel de Russie, Rome
Switzerland Günther Strobl Clouds Bar, Zurich
Greece Evangelos Nomikos Matsuhisa, Athens
Germany Thomas Kunze Clouds Heaven’s Bar & Kitchen, Hamburg
Finland Laura Nissinen A21 Decades, Helsinki


Erik Lorincz: Head Bartender at the Savoy Hotel’s American Bar.
Emiko Kaji: International Nikka Whisky Representative
Neil Ridley: Drinks Writer, Presenter and Spirits Consultant