Bartending champ shares expertise to expats


Manila boy Russellito Borela Sanchez is listed in the Hall of fame as the first-ever world class champion for Diageo raising the bar in the United Arab Emirates and the only Filipino bartender to win this competition till this date. He got a long list of many first. He is the first Filipino bartender to train hopefuls at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, the first Filipino to win Midori cocktail challenge Dubai 2008, the first Filipino bartender to represent UAE in the global finals in France for IBS 2010 and the first Filipino Brand Ambassador for Monin outside the country of origin.

He is also the first Filipino bartender to win the Grosvenor House Grammy Awards for Bartender of the Year 2009.

How he made it big in Dubai

Russell is now 41 years old. “My life revolves into food and beverage industry for the past 20 years, from Philippines to different parts of the world. Right now most of the time is dedicated to just beverage innovation, training, tasting and presentation in different segment of hotel and cafes.”

He has been in Dubai for the last 11 years. His overseas career started in 2005. He was hired as a Pre-Opening Bartender for the luxury hotel Grosvenor House by Starwood Hotels. From 2005 to 2011, he was Head Bartender of the iconic world-famous Buddha Bar and Bar 44 then he worked as Assistant Bar Manager of Toro Toro from 2011 to 2012. This is one of the most prestigious and exclusive Dubai night spot where you can enjoy your fine dining experience.

In 2012, he was named as Brand Ambassador, a post he holds until today. In the same year, he was designated as Beverage Consultant of Fresh Express LLC, the sole distributor for Monin in U.A.E market and the most prominent and trusted beverage supplier and beverage solution provider.


Raising the bar

Russell is the first-ever winner who was included in the Hall of Fame for world-class Raising the Bar UAE Champion 2009 by Diageo. He recalled that it was a year full of wonders when world-class bartenders from across the globe went all out at the World Class Dubai National Finals to fight for the title of the Emirate’s Bartender of the Year.

“After winning the first ever world class raising the bar competition in UAE, my life completely changed.  It started all the blessings to flow through, promotion as head bartender till I become a bar manager. I feel great for winning every single bartending competition in Dubai and for several times I competed in Europe.”

“I was very happy to have represented our country and being the first Filipino to win this prestigious award for this still the biggest bartending competition in the world of mixology. World Class is the annual competition hosted by Diageo Reserve to find the world’s best bartender. The World Class Club is a celebration of the world’s best bartenders and the world’s finest drinks.”

Three lovely kids

Russell was born on March 14, 1975 in Pampanga. His parents Romeo and Salvacion Borela Sanchez are into business. He has one sister, Raquel S. Cuya, who is married to Conrado Cuya.  He spent his elementary and high school at the St. Patrick School and his collegiate years at the University of Sto. Tomas.

In 1996, he got married to Juliet Ambal. “The eldest son Julius Renzo, 19, is studying BSBA Financial Management at San Beda; The other two children, Julie Rose and Jennessy Rijs are enrolled at the New Filipino Private School.


Bartending can make a change

“I have been the president of Mastah UAE Bartenders Association for the fast four years. Mastah is Dubai’s first officially recognized bartender’s association. The brain child of a group of influential bartenders within the region, Mastah aims to provide a forum of communication to the UAE’s bartending community as well as give training opportunity to all within the profession irrelevant of their nationality, age, gender or religious affiliation.”

“I also offer my services to the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management. “My dream before was just to become a bar manager in a famous icon bar in the world, however I achieved more than that.  Thanks God for the overflowing blessings. I feel blessed for  where I am right now and for what I have become.”●

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IMG_3984THE BLOGGER. Ulysses Espartero is a journalist, historian and book author who traces his roots from two Philippine jewels – Laguna and Antique.  While in Dubai, he enjoyed his expat life documenting the struggles and victories of migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. He has released two books – Precious Gems in a Desert of Gold (2014) and Filipino Heroes in the Gulf (2016). Connect with him on facebook.


One thought on “Bartending champ shares expertise to expats

  1. Pingback: The Weekly Headlines by lafayetteangel – Br Andrew's Muses

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