The world of mixology competitions is a serious one. Bartenders create cocktails worthy of three Michelin star chefs in the hope of being crowned the best in their field. Often such glory brings job offers that will ‘spirit’ them away to exotic international destinations and events.

Cory Scruggs emerged victorious from Cayman’s World Class cocktail competition earlier this year. The Agua bartender dazzled the judges with his skills, which have now won him a place in the international competition being held in Glasgow, Scotland in September.

Scruggs actually took a break from the industry in 2006 and didn’t return until 2012, only to find that everything  had changed…in a good way.

“All of a sudden, people were making their own ingredients, altering flavour profiles of spirits and using all kinds of new techniques to create cocktails,” says Scruggs. “I was fascinated by all of it, [so] down the rabbit hole I went. Still going!”

Although Scruggs has had a lot of competition experience, the jitters can still get the better of him. “I tend to get pretty bad nervous shakes,” he says, laughing. “Even if I feel confident, sometimes my hands just don’t want to cooperate. I find it best to laugh it off or make a joke about it while I’m competing. ‘Shake it till you make it’ usually gets a laugh or three.”

When asked what he wishes his customers knew about him, the answer is simple. “I make my own hand-rolled paper straws and I absolutely hate cilantro!”