Thanks to Marco Callegari of Velier, I had the opportunity to attend the Italian finals of the Nikka Perfect Serve 2016 competition at Octavius in Milano. With Nikka being one of my favorite whiskies and since I had never visited Octavius, I couldn't pass up the chance to attend. When I arrived, I was happy to see many familiar faces from the world of bartending and whisky. I was also very impressed with the beautiful bar at Octavius. Thanks to the barlady Chiara Casati for her excellent Nikka Old Fashioned and her incredible patience as I took photos up at the bar. I look forward to going back to Octavius to try more drinks from Chiara and the head bartender Francesco Cione.
The inspiration for the competition was the Japanese philosophy Ichi-go Ichi-e, “One moment, one encounter.”
The finalists included many big names from Italian bartending including Alex Frezza (L'Antiquario, Naples), Massimo Strosoppi, Michele Garofalo (Jerry Thomas Project, Rome), Juan Pablo Pollicino (Kenta, Montecatini Terme), Milo Occhipinti (1930, Milano), Walter Casulli (Daniel's Hotel, Rome), Renga Neri (Piccadilly, Faenza), Niccolò Avanzi (Hotel Gallia, Milano), Alessandro Ismaele Avilla (Sushi B, Milano) and Massimo Stronati (Morgante, Milano).
The judges included Marco Callegari, Alessandro Coggi and Luca Pirola. Hosting the event was Dom Costa. Also in attendance was Nikka brand ambassador for Europe Stanislav Vadrna.
The winner was Niccolò Avanzi, who will participate in the European finals in Rome on November 28.