The Diageo Reserve World Class bartender competition last night revealed its Australian winner for 2021, with Evan Stroeve of newly opened Sydney bar RE, taking home the crown.

Stroeve impressed the judges with his skill and consistency as well helping the Australian finals to be carbon neutral through his impressive fund raising. Kayla Saito (Leonardo’s Pizza Palace, Melbourne) and David Aznar (Rosella’s, Gold Coast) who were also a part of the final three, impressed onlookers and judges with their expert mixology.

Having now beaten hundreds of bartenders to the title, Stroeve will now compete in the first-ever virtual global final, taking place from 4-8 July. He will join more than 60 other bartenders from across the globe vying for the overall title.

Stroeve says of the win: “To be competing alongside David and Kayla, some of the best bartenders in the country is such an honour in itself. I have competed in the Diageo World Class three times now and to finally take out the win surrounded by my family, friends and long-term mentor Tim Philips-Johansson (Owner of Bulletin Place and Previous World Class Global Winner) is a momentous moment in my career, I’m still letting it sink in.

“I was so excited to be able to showcase what we do at RE and what I have learnt from Matt Whiley (owner of RE) especially within the Ketel One sustainability challenge. The level of talent in the competition was incredibly high so it’s a massive achievement not only for me, but hopefully this shows Australia the calibre of cocktails we create at RE and they stop in to say hi and congrats.”

The global pandemic saw Australia’s bartenders compete in a new digital format. Entrants lodged their drinks via the Diageo Bar Academy before competing in challenges where they used Reserve Brands including Don Julio tequila, Ketel One vodka, Tanqueray No.Ten gin, and Johnnie Walker Black Label blended Scotch whisky to experiment with flavour, balance and creativity.

Krystal Hart, Australia’s World Class Ambassador said: “Each year I am blown away from the talent that comes forward for World Class. Even with the change of format this year I feel we were able to reach even more incredible talent from across Australia who were ready to show off their creativity and skills using Diageo’s Reserve Brands.

“Coming together last night at Paramount House to watch these incredibly talented individuals battle it out was beyond and I’m so excited to see Evan represent Australia in the global finals and show the world what we are made of.”

The World Class Global Bartender of the Year finals will be held virtually from the 4-8 July, with people able to both watch the competition and engage with a variety of virtual and interactive experiences.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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