A group of upcoming bartenders from Heritance Kandalama and Heritance Ahungalla Hotels walked away with key wins at the recently concluded National Bar Tenders’ Cocktails and Flair Competition 2012, organised by the Ceylon Hotel School Graduates’ Association.
Indika Kumara Marasinghe, Praveen Sampath Fernando, Gihan Sadanayake, Iresh Tharanga Mayadunna, Sithara Wickramasinghe and Roshan Madushanka Malagammana grabbed the limelight for their flaring and innovation.
“What is noteworthy is that all of them joined us in trainee positions from remote parts of the country. They worked hard, moved up the ranks and never passed up an opportunity to learn new skills, which is very encouraging for us,” said Mr.Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotels.
Bringing pride to Heritance Kandalama, 27-year-old Indika Kumara Marasinghe, a native of Pelwehera, Dambulla, was adjudged the winner of the National Marie Brizard and Skyy Vodka Bar Tenders’ flaring competition. As the winner of the flaring competition, Indika will now represent Sri Lanka at the prestigious South Asian Regional Bartenders Competition which will take place in Singapore.
Indika, who once dreamt of representing his school and village club at cricket, joined the hotel as a trainee in August 2006. He got interested in mixing and flaring cocktails while working at the hotel bar. His interest was further ignited after he saw a video of a popular American flaring barman.
Marasinghe, used his flair for cricket to try his hand at mixing cocktails at a competitive level. With a great dose of perseverance, patience and a lot of self-study, he faced his first competition in 2008. He was adjudged the regional winner (Cultural Triangle) at the Marie Brizard Bartenders competition in the years 2009, 2010, 2011. His big win came when he emerged winner of the Marie Brizard and Skyy Vodka National Bartenders’ flaring competition this month, beating all star-class barmen in the country.
Flaring and juggling is an art that requires endless practice, said Marasinghe. “This is a job with lots of skills not only the knowledge.” “You can watch a movie and learn techniques but to perform in front of a large number of guests and an audience, you should tirelessly practice, practice and practice,” a jubilant Marasinghe said.
Another shining star at the National Bar Tenders’ Competition 2012 was Praveen Sampath Fernando, who secured the First Runner Up award in the Classic Cocktail category, representing Heritance Ahungalla. Praveen began his career as an hotelier in the year 2007 as a trainee waiter at Heritance Ahungalla. A native from Ahungalla, Praveen shone amongst 300 participants at the competition when he emerged runners up after making it to the finals along with 15 other participants.
Fernando calls his signature cocktail “Green Republic” which includes a dose of Skyy vodka,creme de menthe green, Monin apple syrup, banana liqueur, peach and passion.
Gihan Sadanayake, who began his career at Heritance Kandalama as a trainee waiter in December 2009, has participated in many regional bartender competitions. In 2012, he qualified for the finals at the National Bartenders competition.
Sithara Wickramasinghe, a trainee hostess at the hotel since December 2011, also got selected to the final round of the National Bartenders competition in 2012.
Iresh Mayadunna, who joined the hotel as an Assistant Waiter in December 2011, made it to the semi-final round of the competition while Roshan Malagammana, a waiter since 2009 also made it to the semi-final round at the recent competition.