Following Norwegian Escape’s Head Mixologist Marc McArthur’s win at the Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year semifinals competition on June 20, Norwegian Cruise Line is once again in the spotlight for its outstanding onboard beverage program. Led by Wesley Cort, Senior Director of Restaurant and Beverage Operations, and Luis Ortega, Manager of Beverage Operations Development, Norwegian’s beverage team is celebrating the recognition stemming from several awards and accolades received in the first half of 2017.
“We are incredibly proud of Norwegian Cruise Line’s beverage team, both shore side and aboard our ships, for their spectacular performance this year,” said Karl Muhlberger, Vice President of Food and Beverage for Norwegian Cruise Line. “Norwegian is dedicated to providing its guests with unforgettable vacation experiences and our beverage program plays a crucial role in the guest experience. We are thrilled to be recognized for the program’s craftsmanship, creativity and innovation.”
2017 Diageo WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year Semi-Finals
On June 20, Marc McArthur, head mixologist aboard Norwegian Escape, took home the gold in the semi-finalist round of the WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year competition and was awarded the title of Diageo Global Travel’s Best Bartender in the cruise industry division.
In 2016, McArthur secured the spot of runner up in the World Class semifinals; pulling from his extensive experience with Norwegian’s excellent, hands-on beverage team and his training with the Diageo World Class program, McArthur returned to this year’s competition to contend against bartenders from the cruise industry, crafting unique and innovative cocktails for two, five-minute challenges. The judge’s panel, comprised of beverage industry experts, critiqued participants on a broad range of criteria crucial to the bartending craft: taste, creativity, knowledge, storytelling and presentation.
In the competition’s Mystery Box Challenge, the bartenders were asked to create cocktails using several secret ingredients, provided just 15 minutes prior to the challenge. Remaining cool under pressure, McArthur served up two concoctions, pulling inspiration from legendary public figures – Nelson Mandela and Princess Diana. For his first drink, inspired by Nelson Mandela, McArthur masterfully combined Zacapa Rum, passion fruit, peanut butter, green chartreuse, sweet vermouth and cardamom. His second cocktail evoked the distinctively elegant spirit of Princess Diana with Matcha-infused Tanqueray 10, fresh lemon, simple syrup, gooseberries and pink peppercorn. In the Cocktails Against the Clock Challenge, the bartenders were asked to create as many unique cocktails as they could in just five minutes. McArthur bested the competition, meticulously executing six incredible signature cocktails – Zacapa Mai Tai, Winter Old Fashioned, Sherry Martini, Marilyn Monroe, Smoke n’ Fire and the Traquila – serving up his final cocktail just before time ran out.
McArthur will now continue on to represent Norwegian at the WORLD CLASS global finals event in Mexico City on August 20. He will compete against 56 top bartenders from around the world for the coveted title of WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year 2017.
McArthur, 28, was born in South Africa. At the age of 18, he combined his love of travel and mixology to work as a part-time cocktail waiter as he traveled the world. As time passed, McArthur began to focus his energy on bartending and found his current home within the cruise industry, encompassing the best of both worlds. McArthur joined the Norwegian Cruise Line team in December 2014 as a bartender aboard Norwegian Sky. Upon transferring to Norwegian Escape in October 2015, McArthur quickly rose through the ranks to secure training and eventual placement as Norwegian Escape’s Head Mixologist. McArthur is looking forward to the future as his career continues to climb. “There are no limits to my career; the focus is on how deep your passions lie. The further you go, the greater the possibilities become,” said McArthur.
2017 BACARDI® Legacy Cruise Competition Bartender of the Year
Earlier this year, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Wade Cleophas bested competition from more than 2500 entries across 13 different cruise lines to win the title of 2017 BACARDÍ® Legacy Cruise Competition Bartender of the Year. The finals took place in Miami on February 13 in a live competition judged by a panel of experts from the beverage industry, held at award-winning restaurant Alter in Miami’s hip Wynwood neighborhood.
Wade’s winning creation – the ‘Legend Reviver’ – was inspired by classic cocktails with spices reminiscent of exotic destinations. The cocktail, featuring BACARDÍ® OCHO (8) ANOS, was mixed with star anise infused sweet vermouth, caramel/cinnamon syrup with drops of whisky barrel aged bitters and finished with a mist of Absinthe. His perfectly presented cocktail was artistically finished off with a garnish resembling the sails of a merchant ship and the wings of the BACARDÍ bat. A key element of the competition was the requirement for finalists to promote their cocktail around the world. In the three months that Wade was promoting Legend River Reviver, Norwegian sold almost 2000 servings of the specialty drink.
2017 Vista Awards Best Beer and Wine Programs
Rounding out Norwegian Cruise Line’s beverage superlatives for the first half of 2017, the line was recognized as having the Best Beer Program and the Best Wine Program out of all hotels, cruise lines and casinos at the 2017 Vista Awards, held on Tuesday, February 28 during the VIBE Conference, the premiere on-premise beverage conference for beverage executives. Norwegian was the only cruise line honored at the awards.
VIBE Vista Awards recognize the top performers in the beverage industry through the creation, training, execution, management and on-going positive results of beverage programs. Entries were reviewed by a panel of Johnson & Wales University beverage faculty, staff and alumni and were judged on positive beverage sales initiatives, efficient operational innovations and training and service programs producing high quality standards.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Senior Director of Restaurant & Beverage Operations Wes Cort accepted the two awards, along with Luis Ortega, Manager of Beverage Operations Development for Norwegian Cruise Line.