Chicago bartender is named best in the world

The first weekend of August brought yet another culinary great to the rank of champion – this time it is a bartender from Chicago. Charles Joly, chief bartender and beverage director for the Aviary in the West Loop, was given the 2014 Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year award. Joly brings a lot of passion and technical awareness to his craft that online culinary school students would admire.

Since 2012, Joly has served as chief bartender at the Aviary. The cocktail lounge is such a popular spot that customers are advised to pre-purchase online tickets to attend. Although there is a reserved space for walk-ins, the lounge fills up quickly. Joly serves intricate cocktails at this location that are so beautifully crafted it feels like a shame to drink them. At this moment, the Aviary is featuring the Heart of Stone cocktail, which contains pistachio, Fresno, peach, lapsing and whiskey. This cocktail may appear inventive, but the Green Thumb takes the cake with ingredients like grass, snap peas, Chartreuse, gin and rum.

It was this kind of cocktail magic that won Joly the Bartender of the Year award. Pitted against 47 bartenders from around the world, Joly was the only representative for the United States. The competition was held in London and featured famous cocktail makers like Dale Debroff. Throughout the event, the bartenders were given a set of challenges and themed battles. One competition was titled “A Tale of Two Martinis,” but it was the final competition that gave Joly the title. For this event, Joly created a cocktail he called Above the Clouds that was a reworking of a classic tiki cocktail.

A history of cocktail class
“Right from the beginning Charles Joly’s passion, creativity and unrivaled mixology skills captivated the judges,” Matteo Fantacchiotti, global vice president of Diageo Reserve, told Hospitality Magazine. “His desire to create unique serves that combined sophisticated tastes with innovative modern twists never faltered at any stage of the competition.”

Joly’s determination to create such impressive cocktails comes naturally. In 2012, even before he was hired at the Aviary, the Reader challenged Joly to make a cocktail with ambergris. Ambergris is squid whale excrement. The ingredient is so rare that it is more expensive than gold by weight. Most chefs and bartenders must use an extract in their products, and even the extract is costly. Joly took the challenge in stride and created a cocktail that reflected the musky-sweet aromas that the ambergris gives off.

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