The 12th edition of the Diageo World Class Competition kicked off on Monday the 26th of April 2021: a platform with a vital brand purpose, making people care about what, where and how to drink.
The World Class Bartender of the Year rivalry unites the very best of the bartending fraternity worldwide and puts them through rounds of rigorous competition to ultimately win the crown of the world's number one bartender.
Monday the 26th of April was the start of the National Finals, where the Top 10 bartenders were tested on the various elements of bartending in a Mastery Challenge. The Mastery Challenge consisted of four sub-challenges, namely, Mise en place – this was about knowing what goes into your cocktails. Bartenders were given 30 minutes to nose, taste and decipher 50 botanicals, fruits, spices and other elements that would be used in the process of making cocktails.
Classic Cocktail Showdown – was up next as each of the top 10 were given ten small test tubes. Each held a specific classic cocktail that was recreated and placed in test tubes. Bartenders tasted and smelled each of the test tubes and were given exactly 20 minutes to write down what each one was.
Blenders way, a challenge to differentiate the good from the great. Bartenders were given a specially blended whisky created by the Diageo Brand ambassador team; within the blend were specific single malts. Contestants were required to put down what they thought was the correct composition of the combination.
The Spirit identification challenge was a challenge where contestants were called up one by one and asked to identify 50 different spirits and liqueurs. The game was simple name the spirit correctly and move on or get it wrong, and you were out until only one remained.
Day 2 of World Class Finals kicked off with Fun in the Sun, where guest judge Kyle Cassim joined the likes of entrepreneur and multiple business owner Dino Batista, Owen O'Reilly World Class 2019 winner and Alessandro Khojane, restauranteur and owner of Gemelli Restaurant.
The top ten were tasked with creating refreshing poolside drinks with Talisker 10, Bulleit Bourbon or Don Julio. Contestants rolled up their sleeves and created something new and exciting for the four judges.
Challenge number two for the day or Fashion Icon where guest judge Kabambi of Fuata Moyo saw the contestants flex their creativity skills. Earlier on in the lead up to the finals, the bartenders collaborated with guest judge and artist Kabambi to make a unique apron. The contestants needed to create a drink that tied into and spoke directly to the beautiful artwork Johnnie Walker Gold Label as the base spirit.
The end of Day 2 saw the Top 10 become the Top 6; with one more challenge to go and the finale hot on their heels, the World Class competition was about to heat up.
Day 3 started at Saint alongside guest judge David Higgs for the Saints and Sinners challenge. The Top 6 needed to create two drinks; an aperitif ( before dinner drink) and a digestive (after dinner drinks). They really took it to the next level and made some fantastic cocktails with added dramatics.
Time for the finale, the ultimate speed challenge, 12 cocktails in ten minutes, with media, influencers and celebrity guest judge, and Fashion Designer Rich Mnisi in attendance, the air was thick with excitement and anticipation. The audience held their breath as The top 6 bartenders put on a show.
With the results finalised, the winner was announced; first place and South Africa's best bartender, Brent Perremore, 2nd Place Julian Short and in 3rd place Cassandra Eichhoff.
Brent will be representing South Africa in the Global Finals in June in the first-ever virtual event. Please keep your eyes peeled for how he fairs against the rest.
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