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Mixing with the best at Sheffield’s TGI Friday’s

The national final of the T.G.I. Friday's Bartender Championships 2013 at Wembley Stadium.

Russ Ward and Ashley Morley are announced joint winners.

The national final of the T.G.I. Friday's Bartender Championships 2013 at Wembley Stadium. Russ Ward and Ashley Morley are announced joint winners.

A cocktail ace who has been crowned best barman in the north three times is now hoping to add a world title to the mix.

Russell Ward – who works at the city’s TGI Friday’s restaurant near Meadowhall – has learned 50 new cocktails to add to his repertoire of 700 ahead of the World Bartender Championships in Texas.

The 32-year-old could win prize money of $10,000 if he triumphs – and hopes are high after he won the UK heat of the TGI-organised contest last September.

Russell, who lives in Beighton, said: “I’ve been working hard for months now and am looking forward to competing against the best bartenders around.

“My main aim is to finish in the top three, but you never know – if everything goes my way, I won’t count out a big win.

“I’m focusing more on myself than the other competitors though – I want to get as close as I can to a perfect score in all the tests and then, when it comes to my freestyle routine in front of the big crowd, it will be all to play for.

“My girlfriend keeps asking me what routine I will do, but I will see how I feel when I step onto the stage.

“It is a freestyle round so I believe in doing exactly that – freestyling and going with the flow on the night.”

A dozen bartenders, whittled down from thousands of entries, will compete over three days in the event.

In the final they must prove their passion, knowledge and expertise in making cocktails, as well as the ability to entertain, in front of spectators.

Two British bartenders are in the finals for the first time. Ashley Morley, from Guildford, will compete alongside Russell.

 

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