The definitive guide to the finest drinking experiences

The World Class 50: The Definitive Drinking Guide features 50 of the most innovative and talented bartenders from across the globe. Each bartender showcases the perfect location, the most inventive cocktail and the finest of ingredients and spirits that define the 'must have' fine drinking experience in their city.

How many you have discovered

Jad Ballout’s Fattoush Cup

Jad Ballout represented Lebanon at the World Class Bartender of the Year final, 2013

Garcia’s Cantina y Cocteleria was opened a year-and-a-half ago by Charlie Frem and Tony Rached, who noted that fresh-fruit cocktails work very well with Latin cuisines and – given the popularity of Mojitos, Margaritas and Daiquiris in Beirut – put two and two together and opened their bar-restaurant.

Garcia’s drinks are full of fresh fruit flavours, its food is Mexican-meets-the Med, the design is cosy and warm and the music combines Latin beats, with jazz, blues and old skool. It is in Hamra where it joins the Black Lily pub in catering for an older professional crowd than the more typical student haunts in this the city’s university hub.

The Bartender

Jad Ballout is 24, but already has seven years experience under his belt, having moved to manage the bar at Garcia’s after a spell at Lei. Jad usually takes his lead in drink development from the best herbs, fruit and vegetables at local markets. He counts bartenders Kazuo Uyeda and Erik Lorincz among those who inspire him, and is keen on equipment such as chefs’ smoking guns and the Perlini shaker (which produces highly carbonated cocktails). Another facet of Jad’s craft are his barrel-aged cocktails: classics such as Manhattan and Negroni, left to mature for three to four months in whisky casks on the bar top.

The Drink

Food is also a big source of inspiration for Jad, and thus the Fattoush Cup was born. Based on that meze staple, the fattoush salad, it features many of the same Levantine ingredients, including olive oil and the spice Sumac. Jad found that the Ketel One Citroen with it’s fresh citrus flavour was the perfect anchor for the drink. Unlike with the salad, the ingredients are blended finely before shaking and the result is a particularly good accompaniment to a meze.

The Technique

Ketel One Citroen • 70ml
Fresh lemon juice • 20ml
Sugar syrup (2:1) • 20ml
Cucumber syrup • 10ml
Extra virgin olive oil • 15ml
Sumac • 1 bar spoon
3 cherry tomatoes
3 mint leaves
Contains 23 grams of alcohol per serve

Dry blend all the ingredients with a hand mixer. Shake the mix with ice. Pour into a traditional pewter cup. Serve with crisp bread on the side.

Jad recommends sitting by the corner near the bar to best enjoy the evening and your Fattoush Cup.

Garcia’s hosts a different DJ each night, with a buzzing vibe at weekends, but in general is refined and relaxed. You’re also always guaranteed something delicious and seasonal on the weekly specials board.

Images by Anthony Rahayel

Jad’s Insider’s Guide to Beirut

Beirut is a super stylish city. It has the best of Europe and the Near East in one place, with fashion that mixes the best of best of both worlds. Beauty consultants: and

Place to stay Le Gray hotel

Place to eat Couqley

Place to relax Riviera Beach Resort

Place to lounge L’Osteria, Mar Mikhael

Place to dance White or B018

Place to shop Beirut Souks

Place to visit Jbeil Museum

Place to see Downtown Beirut