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Fort Wayne bartender places top five in national competition

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - Did you know Fort Wayne is now home to one of the top five bartenders in the country? 

His name is Raj Shukla and he just finished competing in the USBG World Class bartender's competition Tuesday where he placed in the top five in the United States. 

You can get one of his cocktails at Fort Wayne's very own Copper Spoon.  

"I love the hospitality industry, I've been drawn to it for many years,” Shukla said. "I love being creative coming up with new fun exciting cocktails to try.” 

He says he’s been working at Copper Spoon for about six years, and this is his second year competing.  

"It’s more or less the World Series or Olympics of bartending,” Shukla said. “Out of the competitors that made it into the top five, I was really the underdog out of everyone, everyone else was from much larger markets.” 

Shukla says after many weeks of virtual bartending challenges, he slowly worked his way to the U.S. finals. He says one of the challenges was making five cocktails within five minutes. 

"It’s much more than what comes in the glass that makes the job fun, we’re here to take care of people and make them feel welcome and good.” 

He says it’s more than making drinks, it’s about forming relationships and being genuine. 

"It has to do with your presence, how genuine you are, the hospitality, and the drinks of course too,” he said. 

He says he’s learned it’s about working hard and being passionate about what he does. 

“What I learned the most about, is just being myself and being genuine,” Shukla said. “If anyone ever comes into Copper Spoon, they know I’m always trying to have fun and have a good time and facilitating that experience.” 

If you would like to watch a recording of Shukla in the USBG World Class bartender's competition, you can visit the website here. 

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Karli VanCleave

Karli VanCleave is a multimedia journalist at WPTA for the evening newscast. Karli is a Fort Wayne native and Indiana University Bloomington graduate.
Feel free to connect with her on Facebook (@KarliVanCleaveNews) and Twitter (@Karli_VanCleave), or if you have a story idea send her an email at kvancleave@wpta21.com.

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