Holland America Line Bartender Heads to Bacardi Cruise Competition Finals

PUERTO RICO: A Holland America Line bartender is one of five finalists competing in the The Bacardi Legacy Cruise Competitions. The finals will take place later this week in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Bacardi Cruise Competition is a stage for bartenders from cruise and ferry lines, to represent their ship and showcase their exceptional bar-tending skills.  Several thousand bartenders entered the competition. After initial judging the number was cut to five finalists and Nariciso “Archie” Mariano, Jr., a bartender with Holland America Line, making it to the finals with his cocktail the Velvet Fashionista. The drink, Archie says,  was inspired by the new age we live in.

Holland America Line bartender Narisciso “Archie” Mariano, Jr., a Bacardi Legacy Cruise Bartender Competition Finalist. Photo: Bacardi

We recently spoke with Archie on board Holland America’s Amsterdam to talk about the competition and his career.

“I love being a bartender, bartending is a passion for me, I’m reading and studying all the time when I’m not working to be a better bartender,” Archie says. “A good bartender should always be learning. That’s what Degroff says.”

Archie is referring to legendary bartender Dale DeGroff. DeGroff is two-time James Beard Award winning Wine & Spirits Professional and author better known as King Cocktail. Archie considers DeGroff to be his hero and mentor.

“I have his (DeGroff’s) books, and I’m always reading and re-reading them. He created the cocktails that we serve on board and I love making them, there is a science to them. Whenever I can get a new book about bar-tending, or books about alcohol I get them and read them.” according to Archie.

When asked how he developed his passion for bar-tending Archie jokingly says he was destined to be a bartender. “As a baby the first bottle I reached for was not milk, it was my father’s beer.”

All joking aside, Archie knows his passion comes from starting work with Holland America Line. “When I started on the ship, I was fascinated by the work the bartenders did. I started out cleaning, stocking and delivering drinks. I worked very hard, I wanted to be the hardest worker. I watched the bartenders, everything they did. I asked questions of them when I wasn’t working. I started reading books and studying. Soon I was given a chance.”

He took that opportunity and ran with it. Still in his 20’s, when asked about his age he coyly responds, “I’m only 6 years old, I was born on February 29th.”

When not bar-tending a full shifts at the Lido Bar he is teaching passengers about spirits and his craft, or stumping them with one of his many bar tricks.

Archie at the Lido Bar on the Amsterdam. Photo: J.M. Wilson

While onboard, Archie taught several beer tasting classes, scotch & whiskey classes, mixology classes and Dale DeGroff Signature Cocktail classes. Archie’s classes were fun, informative and full of passengers. Despite his young age he knows what he is talking about and speaks on the subject with the authority and confidence of a much older and seasoned professional.

“I love teaching the classes, and I learn so much from my guests, like I said, a good bartender is always learning,” Archie said with a smile.

As one of the five finalists Archie wins $1,000 USD and accommodations in Puerto Rico for the cruise finals event. If Archie wins in Puerto Rico he’ll receive $4,000 USD along with flights and accommodations to the Bacardi Global Finals, location to be confirmed at a later date, where he will compete against bartenders from around the world.

When I last saw Archie, he was disembarking the Amsterdam to go home to the Philippines for a few weeks to see his family. I wished him the best of luck. He smiled and thanked me saying, “I just want to win for my coworkers, we’re all family and if I win we all win.”

Cruise & Travel Report will be following the 2019 Bacardi Legacy Cruise Bartender Competition finals and the Global Finals and will post updates.

Here is the drink that brought Archie to the 2019 Barcardi Legacy Cruise Bartender Competition Finals:


Archie’s award winning drink the Velvet Fashionista. Photo: Bacardi


30 ml Bacardi 8 Años
15ml Islay whisky
15ml St. Germain Elderflower Liquor
30ml Espresso
15ml Agave Syrup
Orange zest for garnish


Build all ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. Shake extra vigorously. Strain and pour in a chilled Nick & Nora (coupe) glass and garnish


Article by: Liam P. Cusack