World Class is the largest and most prestigious bartending competition the world’s bar industry has seen. However, World Class is much more than a mere cocktail competition.
Reserve Brands is the part of Diageo tasked with nurturing the company’s premium brands so by default they operate in the higher echelons of our industry. It is the good folk at Reserve who are behind World Class. They see this as a vehicle “developed to educate and inspire bartending talent to create exceptional cocktails, service and experiences.”
By encouraging and supporting the improvement of bartending standards around the world, the rational is that better bartending will lead to better drinks and so offer a better opportunity for their luxury brands. Presently World Class operates in some 50 countries and the best bartenders from all of these markets are invited to participate.
World Class starts with seminars where experts impart their knowledge to groups of potential World Class bartenders. Held in major cities in participating countries, in the UK these seminars are presented as part of a Roadshow. These are the kind of educational seminars that are usually only available at events such as Tales of the Cocktail and are a fantastic opportunity for any bartender who takes their profession seriously. They are also give the folk from Diageo Reserve who host the seminars the chance to talent spot. Identify the bartenders that should be given the opportunity to compete.
These seminars are followed by cocktail competitions with the most promising bartenders invited to compete. It is the winners of these various competitions which then go onto compete National World Class finals. The winners of the national heats, are in turn, invited to take part in the World Class Global Final.
Akin to a bartending Olympics, the 2017 World Class Global Final will be held in Mexico where 50 bartenders will represent their countries, their bartending talent being very broadly tested by a series of challenges, each judged by respected gurus of the bartending industry. World Class starts with many hundreds of bartenders in each country and concludes with one winner. Continuing with the Olympic analogy, that winner, The World Class Bartender of the Year, is best compared to the winner of the decathlon due to the number of different bartending disciplines tested.
Winning a national World Class final is a career changing achievement. Being crowned The World Class Bartender of the Year is life changing.