World Class

World Class

We are now closer to knowing who’ll be this years’ British World Class champion after ten finalists emerged from a 35 strong field of the nation’s best bartenders.

The first stages, of what is one of the most challenging and respected competitions a bartender can enter, saw bartenders attend seminars on resourceful bartending and also on flavours and culinary influences. Inspired by these, they then submitted a cocktail recipe using products from Diageo’s Reserve portfolio (below/right) which were evaluated by judges visiting their bars. From these, the judges then chose Britain’s top 35 bartenders to participate in the semi-finals.

The semi-finals were held at Diageo’s Customer Collaboration Centre on Tuesday 15th May 2018. What looks like an ordinary warehouse hidden at the back of a hard to find unassuming industrial estate in West London houses a modern facility with very realistic mock-up bars and even supermarket shelves. For the purposes of these challenges, the rooms housed three very different scenes – one for each of the challenges:

What looked like a TV studio, complete with huge cameras, crew and even a director’s chair was the venue for the Breakfast Martini challenge as the bartenders were tasked with creating a brunch cocktail using everyday ingredients and equipment found in a typical home. They then had to present this in front of the cameras as a live broadcast on a breakfast television talk show. The set tested their presenting skills and their nerves .

A mock-up pub, The Yews Beth Arms, appropriately named to remind competitors that to win a speed round they needed to “use both arms” [get it? – went over most of our heads too]. Named the 119.5 To Go! Challenge, this was a speed round with a difference as the bartenders had to serve a pint of Guinness, which takes 119.5 seconds for the perfect serve, while mixing two classic cocktails during the resting period mid-way through serving the Guinness. There were judged not only on time but their hosting, knowledge, quality of cocktail and even how well they poured the Guinness – down to if they managed to finish with a shamrock in the white head. I [Simon Difford] was lucky enough to be one of the judges in what is one of the best bartending challenges I’ve encountered.

A third, starkly white lab-like room hosted the third challenge, Flavour on the fly, a liquid-led challenge designed to test bartenders’ ability to play with flavour and balance a drink. Competitors were given a guided workshop before being asked to apply those skills to create a drink.

The following ten finalists emerged victorious from the above challenges and will go on to battle it out in Edinburgh from the 18th – 20th June for the chance to be crowned the World Class GB Bartender of the Year, and be invited to compete at the global final in Berlin.

Diageo Reserve World Class GB 2018 finalists

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Adam Day, Peggy’s Bar, Manchester

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Cameron Attfield, Dandelyan, London

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Daniel Bovey, Hyde & Co., Bristol

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Daniel Warren, Last Chance

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David Hall, Terroir Tapas, Bournemouth

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Georgia Billing, Sexy Fish, London

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James Bowker, The Wilderness, Birmingham

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Kieran Grieves, Bonbar, Newcastle

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Luke Robinson, Cub, London

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Manachain Monaghan, Below Stairs, Leeds

The other 25 semi-finalists who competed and narrowly missed going onto the final

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Alexander Taylor, Pennyroyal, Cardiff

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Arnaud Volte, The Distillery, London

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Charles Roche, Scout, London

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Christian Silenzi, American Bar at The Savoy, London

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Claudio Iucolino, Dry Martini, London

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Cosmin Tigroso, Nine Lives, London

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Giovanni Tavano, Sexy Fish, London

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Ilija Kniazev, Annabel’s, London

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Jack Wakelin, Public, Sheffield

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Jonatan Munoz Iniesta, Hawksmoor Spitalfields, London

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Kieran Downie, Tigerlily, Edinburgh

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Kuba Korzynski, Royal Institution, Liverpool

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Luke Condell, The Cocktail Trading Co., London

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Michele Reina, Palm Court Bar, London

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Mike McGinty, Voyage of Buck, Edinburgh

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Stevie Kane, Revolution

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Miran Chauhan, Buck & Birch, Edinburgh

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Robert Simpson, The Clove Club, London

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Robyn Wilkie, The Edition, London

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Simone di Serio, Brasserie Max, London

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Thomas Matthews, The Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Thomas Ryan, Doctor Ink’s Curiosities, Exeter

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Thomas Solberg, Black Rock, London

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Timothy Bachelor, The PIG Hotel, Brockenhurst

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Yeshua Garcia, Rotunda Bar at Ten Trinity Square