Jack Sotti, of Boilermaker House in Melbourne, has taken out the hotly contested Australia’s 2015 ‘Bartender of the Year’ at the Diageo Reserve World Class Grand Finals, announced at Strickland House in Sydney’s Vaucluse on 11 May.

During two days of intensive workshops and rigorous challenges, where the top 25 bartenders were put through their paces, Sotti impressed the judges with his World Class Cocktail submission named The Conversation, which blended Johnnie Walker Double Black and Bundaberg Small Batch.

Sotti is passionate about his craft – having been in the industry for nine years, since he was 18 – and is “over the moon” to have won the Australian World Class competition.

“This has truly been a life-changing experience for me, and it’s so encouraging to have the backing of some of the industry’s most exciting talent,” he says.

The two day intensive competition saw the bartenders compete in a series of challenges judged by industry heavyweights, including MasterChef host Matt Preston; global whisky expert Dave Broom; Three Blue Ducks restaurateur Darren Robertson; Founder and Director of renowned Edinburgh bar and restaurant, Bon Vivant, Stuart McCluskey; and former World Class winners and successful bar owners Tim Philips, Luke Ashton and Charlie Ainsbury. The challenges were designed to push the competitors, with tough judging criteria including artistry, innovation, balance, technique and visual aesthetic.

Broom says that he was astounded by the breadth of the contestant’s industry knowledge and bartending talent.

“Every top 25 finalist showed ambition, integrity and respect – not only for the judges and their competitors, but for the industry,” he says. “It has been a pleasure mentoring and working alongside each and every bartender.”

Sotti will be travelling to Diageo’s seventh annual Global Diageo Reserve World Class Competition to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, later in the year. Additionally, Sotti has won a trip around the world to explore 80 bars, including the world famous Aviary in Chicago, and the Bon Vivant in Edinburgh.

Other awards given out for the competition categories, winners included” ‘Beauty of Blends’: Thalita Alves from The Gresham (Brisbane); ‘The Veggie Revival’: Rowan Furlong from The Victoria Room (Sydney); ‘The Welcome Drink’: Sasha Leonard from Double Happiness (Melbourne); ‘World Class in a Cocktail’: Jenna Hemsworth from Lui Bar (Melbourne); and ‘Against the Clock’: Pez Collier from Lychee Lounge (Brisbane).

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