The 11th edition of the Diageo World Class Competition is here: a platform with a strong brand purpose making people care about what, where and how to drink. Founded in 2009, Diageo’s World Class Competition has been influential in changing fine drinking and the mixed drink culture far and wide. Presently, in more than 60 countries, it has upheld, taught, and roused more than 250,000 bartenders through its educational program. The World Class Bartender of the Year rivalry unites the very best of the bartending fraternity from around the globe and puts them through rounds of rigorous competition to ultimately be crowned the world’s number one bartender.
This year the competition will focus on 5 key brands that will bring the competition to life, namely Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray, Talisker, Ketel One Vodka and Bulleit Bourbon.
The first leg of the competition began in March with Studios. This is where the Diageo Brand Ambassadors took the opportunity to coach and upskill bartenders in various parts of South Africa. This year’s studios comprised The Science of Smoke led by Johnnie Walker Black Label, Tartan Tiki led by Talisker and Tech Tonics led by Tanqueray No 10.
Following Studios, competing bartenders submitted their first round of cocktail recipes using the skills they had acquired. All in all 115 submissions were received, significantly more than the previous year. With 10 finalists from each region chosen, the regional finals got under way kicking off in Cape
Town on the 13th of May, making its way to Durban on the 15th of May and finally concluding in Johannesburg on the 16th of May. Regional Finals included two different challenges: Six in Five as well as the Your Bar or Mine Challenge. (“Six in Five” was the challenge that got all the bartenders excited as it was a speed round to create six original cocktails in only five minutes. “Your Bar or Mine” was a challenge based on the bartenders’ admiration for the bar that inspired their passion for bartending and transported the judges to that bar through their cocktail creations). Regional Finals are the qualifier for the National Finals which will take place in Johannesburg at the end of June. The Top 2 bartenders in each region and the four next best placed will make up the National Top 10 Finalists who will vie for the ultimate prize of competing at the Global Finals to be hosted in Glasgow later this year.
The winner not only scores bragging rights, they are awarded the opportunity to travel the world as a Diageo representative, judging cocktail competitions and serving drinks in locations across the globe.
With finalists from all over the world, it will be exciting to see how the South African Winner will fair this year and who will reign supreme in 2019.