Ioanniesse ‘The Pilot’ Jara is taking flight as this year’s champion of the TGIFridays Shake, Rattle and Pour Bartender Competition.
The last champion of TGIFridays’ Shake, Rattle and Pour Bartender Competition was Jolan “Supernova” Penafiel, who bagged first place last year through her flair skills, enthusiasm and sheer moxie. So the question everyone was asking at this year’s competition was, what kind of bartender would be worthy to win this year, and go on to represent the Philippines at the regional bartending championships?
There were a lot, eight contestants to be exact, who brought to the table — er, bar — their own routines and tricks and recipes, juggling and tossing and catching bottles and mixers like acrobats.
This year, TGIFridays held its 23rd Shake, Rattle and Pour Bartender Championship at the restaurant’s Glorietta branch, and the restaurant was bristling with electricity, a small crowd of avid fans holding placards and glowsticks for the bartenders they were rooting for. And there were a lot, eight contestants to be exact, who brought to the table — er, bar — their own routines and tricks and recipes, juggling and tossing and catching bottles and mixers like acrobats.
Champion sip : Ioanniesse Jara from TGIFriday’s Solenad branch will represent the Philippines at the Regional Bartender Championship.
In the end though, it was 25-year-old Ioanniesse S. Jara (aka “The Pilot”) who went on to nab first place. Ioanniesse (pronounced “wa niece”) gave us a routine that engaged both the crowd and the panel of judges alike, combining comedic banter with flair tricks that would make any seasoned bartender raise their eyebrows in awe. There’s something about watching competitive bartending that makes you feel like you’re observing a sporting event — the stress level, the physical feats, the way a bottle falling into a hand feels like watching a figure skating stick a landing. In that sense, Ioanniesse’s skills are Olympian-level.
“I needed to just train and perform the routines consistently until I perfected them,” he says. “I tried to outdo myself, on or off the clock.”
Hailing from the Solenad branch, Ioanniesse practiced hard for the competition, regularly and with discipline. “Basically nagasaulo kami ng mga recipes, at yung mga flairtending routines, pinapractice namin every day.” He had to compete with his fellow bartenders at his branch, eventually coming out as the best bet to compete with bartenders from other branches, but otherwise his battle was a solitary one, treating himself as his main rival. “I needed to just train and perform the routines consistently until I perfected them,” he says. “I tried to outdo myself, on or off the clock.”
All that effort paid off, especially when you consider the competition he had to beat. There was 2nd runner-up Marinel “The Genie” Paguia who had a unique routine involving a Disney-themed playlist, and 1st runner-up John “The Bump Guy” Galicia who, having competed in Shake, Rattle and Pour four times, had experience on his side.
“There’s no such thing as difficult. It’s just a matter of how bad you want it.”
So how did Ioanniesse take the trophy home, with no obvious gimmicks and only two years as a bartender under his belt? “Siyempre mindset ko: always win.” And that’s what he did. At the end of his routine, which involved freestyling a martini vodka and a margarita on the rocks, two fairly complex drinks, he left the crowd and judges with this: “There’s no such thing as difficult. It’s just a matter of how bad you want it.” And we’re looking forward to seeing how far that want will carry him, when he represents the Philippines at the Regional Bartender Championship. We’ll drink to that.
To learn more about TGIFridays, you can check them out on Facebook at TGI Fridays Philippines, @tgifrdaysph on Instagram, or on their website, www.fridays.com.ph.