50 Best Bars The Blend Scholarship: from 786 candidates the final three (and their winning cocktails) are revealed

Mark Sansom - 07/09/2022

For the past six months, hundreds of aspiring bartenders from 22 countries have been competing for the honour to be named the first 50 Best Bars The Blend Scholar and win internships at Connaught Bar, London, and Katana Kitten, New York. Today, 50 Best and The Blend by Beam Suntory names the three finalists who will be heading to Barcelona to discover who receives this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at The World’s 50 Best Bars ceremony on 4th October

It’s been a busy period for aspiring bartenders across the globe who have been fine-tuning applications and signature cocktails for the 50 Best Bars The Blend Scholarship. From nearly 800 sign-ups, intense rounds of judging and an interview process involving Agostino Perrone, Director of Mixology at Connaught Bar; Masahiro Urushido, Director of Deliciousness at Katana Kitten; Kate Dranginis, Climate Analyst at Sustainable Restaurant Association and Meimi Sanchez, Senior Manager at The Blend Global, the talented trio has been selected.

Learn a bit about the finalists and their opinions on the bar industry with these profiles, in their own words…

Age: 21
From: Isle of Man, UK
Current bar: Kiki Lounge, Isle of Man         
Follow me: @kikis.lounge


What is your personal philosophy towards cocktails?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder... In my short time in the hospitality industry, I've had the pleasure of meeting amazing people from every walk of life – each as unique as the last – and of course, all have their favourite cocktails. Despite this, I’ve often heard a guest criticised for what others perceive to be an 'inferior' cocktail. A guest who chooses to order a Pornstar Martini or Blue Lagoon should be viewed no differently to those who choose to sip a Dirty Martini or enjoy the embrace of a Rob Roy: the beauty of the cocktail is within the eye of the beholder.

How can we make the bar industry more sustainable?
Being part of an island community [Isle of Man, in the Irish Sea between Wales and Ireland], foraging is in our nature. But this practice needs to be applied on a global scale. Every country has its own unique biosphere, the produce of which should be celebrated and utilised to create cocktail menus with an identity that resonates with local custom while piquing the interest of visitors. The recent pandemic and the supply issues that followed shed light on the industry’s reliance on imports. It's up to us to minimise this reliance and begin to shine a spotlight on the wealth of ingredients that occur naturally around us. If all bars began to invest in this philosophy, it would make an impact on a global scale and be a big step in creating a sustainable industry for us all.


What are five skills required of an exceptional modern bartender?
  • Compassion
  • 'Pouring with heart'
  • Resourcefulness
  • Innovation
  • Affability

The Webb of Skies
Roku Gin
Homemade Manx Falernum
Isle of Man Seaweed
BSC Passion Fruit Syrup
Tarsier Khao San Rinse
No-waste Almond Seaweed Disc


From: Tokyo, Japan
Current bar: Cafe Unido, Panama City
Follow me: @kokomokie

W50BB22_article_scholarship_kyoka (1)

What is your philosophy towards cocktails?
Cocktails should be personal and come from real-life experiences. I believe it’s necessary not only to learn the fundamentals of making classic cocktails but to experience life outside of bartending and food to give dimension to your drinks. I always aim to be a Renaissance woman and learn many skills and fields that often don't seem to correlate, such as taking concert photography and mastering the three key tasting notes of Burgundian wine... I incorporate experiences from my travels and different cultures to highlight just how unique but also how one-and-the-same we are.

How can we make the bar industry more sustainable?
I dream of restaurants and bars with colourful and diverse teams and guests, different languages left and right, all happy and full in their stomachs and in their hearts. Unfortunately, our industry is fraught with limited inclusivity and an image that we only cater to the well-off, educated, able-bodied city dwellers. Our menus filled with ingredients appropriated from minorities' cultures don't help with that image either. The key to ridding ourselves of these biases is to realise our privilege and fight for inclusivity and compassion.

W50BB22_article_scholarship_kyoka (2)

What are the five skills required of an exceptional modern bartender?

  • Patience
  • Open-mindedness
  • Listening skills
  • A good heart
  • Creativity

The Disappearing DrinkW50BB22_article_scholarship_kyoka (3)

Roku Gin
Lime Juice
‘Dole Whip’ Pineapple Concentrate
Banana Custard Syrup
Sparkling Water

Age: 23
From: Accra, Ghana
Current bar: La Borracha, Accra 
Follow me: @Ashersips

W50BB22_article_scholarship_seraphine (3)

What is your philosophy towards cocktails?
A proper drink at the right time – one mixed with care and skill and served in true spirit of hospitality and giving us the illusion, at least, that we’re getting what we want from life. I think it’s important to know the classics and then make twists on them. I like to compare it with French cuisine: first you have to learn the basics and then you can get creative.

How can we make the bar industry more sustainable?
My take on innovation in the industry is the usage of local produce. In Africa we rely heavily on outsourcing ingredients from other parts of the world, making it more expensive to our patrons. We often look for inspiration outside of the continent, but we should be more inspired by what’s in the motherland, offering a truly unique drinking experience. By doing this we are not just cutting costs on importing, but also creating job opportunities. As an industry we need to create our own identity, allowing our local businesses and farmers to flourish.

W50BB22_article_scholarship_seraphine (1)

What are the five skills required of an exceptional modern bartender?

  • Communication
  • Stamina
  • Good memory
  • Cleanliness
  • Organisation

Roku KokoW50BB22_article_scholarship_seraphine (2)

Roku Gin
Koko Syrup
Lime Juice

The winner of the 50 Best Bars The Blend Scholarship will be announced at The World's 50 Best Bars awards ceremony in Barcelona on 4th October 2022. To be the first to hear about the latest news and announcements, browse the website, follow us on Instagram, find us on Facebook, visit us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.