Cocktail king wins top hospitality prize

Keegan Terry with his winning cocktail, the passion fruit sunset.

A Mount Nelson Hotel food and beverage supervisor will soon be exploring two of Scotland’s top whisky distilleries after being named wine steward of the year for 2020, at a prestigious hospitality awards ceremony.

Keegan Terry, 28, took the title, one of the top categories in the Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge, at the Bombay Brasserie, at Taj Cape Town, on Wednesday March 3.

He also won the “top three cocktails of the year”, “exquisite service” and “best food and wine pairing for mains and dessert” categories.

“I was completely blown away by the win and did not expect it,” he said.

The Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge, now in its eighth year, is known as the Oscars of the hotel industry. The categories cover concierges, wine stewards, baristas, bakers, chefs and pastry chefs among others.

Mr Terry graduated from Fish Hoek High School and studied food and beverage management at the Granger Bay Hotel School, which is part of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

After his studies, he landed an internship at the Cape Grace Hotel where he was exposed to the South African wine industry.

“This is where my passion for wine started,” he said.

Keegan Terry was named wine steward of the year for 2020, at the Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge, last week.

He started working at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel two years ago and is now a food and beverage supervisor in the hotel’s Planet Bar.

For the competition, the participants had to match wines from a certain vineyard and create a cocktail.

His winning cocktail, the passion fruit sunset, consists of rooibos syrup that he made himself, Three Ships Whisky, passion fruit liqueur and fresh lime juice.

Mr Terry said he wanted to broaden his knowledge of South African wines for the benefit of his guests and so he could promote the country’s wines at an international level as a specialised sommelier.

In addition to a visit to Scotland’s top distilleries, Deanston and Bunnahabhain, he will also visit the La Cité du Vin museum, in Bordeaux, France, stay for two nights at The Montague, in London and meet some of the UK’s best sommeliers. And, with a bursary from Distell, he can attend further training with the South African Sommelier Association (SASA) and the Sommeliers Academy.

His father, Deon, said he was “over the moon.”

“I am proud that, as a youngster growing up on the Cape Flats, he did not participate in destructive activities but instead focused on the positive to become an inspiration for others.”

Distell’s chief executive officer, Richard Rushton, said the Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge encouraged the pooling of talent, skill and resources.