Training for bar staff needs to be ramped up if the job is ever to be seen as a professional career choice — that's according to Pilsner Urquell UK Master Bartender Chris Milner.
Milner, who lost out in the international final to Rasmus Kobbersmed of Denmark, said that the benefits of extra training would help professionalise the role and increase standards of customer service.
He works at Browns Bar in Leeds but said he has never received any formal training qualification. "Everything I have learnt about — cocktails, wine or beer — has been in my own time and through my own research," he said.
"Bar staff are seen as dispensable but we need to take it seriously as a profession. England has a history of bad service but if bar staff get more training, then the service is better and more people come to the bar.
"For the bar tender as well, there could be more money from tips. Bar staff are there to provide a welcoming service and to educate the public on products."
Milner was one of 17 finalists from around the world who enjoyed a trip to the Pilsner Urquell brewery in the Czech Republic to learn about the brewing process before travelling to the German capital, Berlin, for the awards ceremony.
Finalists undertook written and practical tests including the perfect pour and presentation of the beer before judges came to their decision.
"It has been a great experience taking part," said Milner. "It is really motivating that you can be rewarded for your hard work. It is fantastic to be recognised and I'm very proud."
Kobbersmed, who works in Den Bla Hund in Copenhagen, scooped the top gong in a competition that attracted entries from 4,000 bartenders. Second and third place went to Ivan Simonovic from Slovakia and Maria Abrams from Germany.