By Stefanie Collins, editor bars&clubs

The finalists for the Diageo Reserve World Class Competition have been released, with the top 25 bartenders set to compete at the Australian Grand Final in Sydney on 10 and 11 May.

The judges whittled down a field of 343 entrants (up 60 participants on 2014) with entrants asked to create a cocktail responding to a creative brief to progress through each qualifying round.

Over the two days in May the top 25 will attend a series of bartending workshops hosted by industry experts, before competing in five live challenges created to test their talent, nerve and creativity. The workshop and challenge categories include: The Beauty of Blends (with Dave Broom), The Veggie Revival (with Darren Robertson), Against the Clock (with Tim Phillips), The Welcome Drink (with Luke Ashton and Charlie Ainsbury), and World Class in a Cocktail (with Stuart McCluskey)

This year’s list mentors and judges includes world leading whisky aficionado Dave Broom; Three Blue Ducks restaurateur Darren Robertson; Founder and Director of Bon Vivant Stuart McCluskey;¬ and former World Class winners and successful bar owners Tim Philips, Luke Ashton and Charlie Ainsbury. 

The 2015 Australian winner of competition’s prize is a trip around the world to visit 80 bucket-list bars – from the world famous Aviary in Chicago, to Bon Vivant in Edinburgh – and meet industry experts and mixologists. The finalist will also take part in Diageo’s seventh annual Global Diageo Reserve World Class Competition to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, in October. Last year, 48 finalists came from around the world to compete in the week-long event.

According to Global World Class winner (2012), and owner of successful Sydney Bar Bulletin Place, Tim Philips, being chosen for the Top 25 of World Class is a major accolade for any bartender. 

“Going through the finals is a life changing opportunity,” he says. “Each workshop will open your eyes to new skills, flavours and techniques and you’ll find with the World Class Mentors and Judges, you can pour drinks you never thought possible. My tip: stay calm, believe in yourself and learn from the best.” 

Diageo Marketing and Innovation Director Adam Ballesty says that all the contestants have demonstrated dedication to their craft, giving the industry the reputation for professionalism it deserves. 

“What people don’t recognise is how much the competition contributes to Australia’s bar scene,” he says. “World Class pushes bartenders to be more innovative, creative and skillful, which ultimately means patrons reap the benefits of better cocktails at the bar.”  

Diageo Reserve World Class Top 25 For 2015:

Alex Archibald (Papa Jack’s)

Brendan Keown (Baxter Inn)

Cameron Pirret (Lychee Lounge)

Daniel Gregory (Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall)

Edward Quatermass (Maker)

Jack Sotti (Boilermaker House)

Jenna Hemsworth (Lui Bar)

Jono Liu (Archie Rose)

Jonathan Minihan (The Toff In Town)

Lette Needham (Nant Whisky Bar)

Manuel Alvarez (The Hazy Rose)

Martin Lange (Cobbler)

Mattia Arnabaldi (Stitch)

Matthew Linklater (Bulletin Place)

Matthew Stirling (Black Pearl)

Nathan Beasley (Black Pearl)

Pez Collier (Lychee Lounge)

Phillip Louis Weber (Enrique’s)

Rinna Kato (Blackbird)

Rollo Anderson (The Rook)

Rowan Furlong (The Victoria Room)

Sacha Leonard (Double Happiness)

Simon Audas (Sokyo)

Thalita Alves (The Gresham)

Tom Pearson (The Press Club)

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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