A BARMAN wowed the crowds and judges as he took top spot TGI Fridays’ bartender of the year competition.

Rob Stephens, from Basildon, faced off against some of the best bartenders in the country.

He won the UK challenge final in London and has subsequently secured his place at the World Bartender Championships, in the USA.

Rob delivered a six-minute routine in front of the six specialist judges, who assessed his overall service, the taste of his cocktails, as well as his flair and technique.

A bartender at TGI Fridays for more than 20 years, he blew away the seven other competitors from across the country, with some signature drops, one of which he created himself - The Crucifixion - which sees him stand in a cross pose with a bottle in each hand, look up to the heavens, close his eyes and then throw the bottles in the air then catching both in opposite hands.

In front of his colleagues, who cheered every trick and travelled to the capital to support Rob, he took home the grand prize of £2,000 and the chance to compete at the TGI Fridays World Championships, representing the UK in the competition.

Speaking about the journey and how it felt to win, the star barman said: “I know it’s a cliché, but this really is a dream come true for me.

“The prize money is fantastic, but the best prize is knowing I am one of the best bartenders in the UK and the world; it’s something that I’ll have for the rest of my life.

“I won back in 2002 so it’s taken me 17 years to reclaim the title and this time around I have to say was the best.

“Winning both titles means the world to me as well as I am now one of only three people in TGI Fridays’ history to win both titles.

“I can’t wait to represent the UK and Basildon at the world championships.”

To get to the challenge final, Rob made it through rounds which tested his mental strength and hand-eye work.

Round one put the bartenders’ mental expertise through its paces with a 90-minute written exam which quizzed them on everything from 100-plus cocktail recipes to intricate details on the history of TGI Fridays.