Media Release

Celebrating its 15th year, Diageo World Class gathered six of the nation’s foremost bartenders including James Irvine (Merivale, Sydney), Matt Bodycote (State Buildings, Perth), Rohan Massie (Rude Boy, Hobart), Shirely Yeung (Foxtrot Hospitality Group, Perth), Tom Opie (The Waratah, Sydney) to battle it out, with Jake Down emerging victorious after a day filled with thrilling challenges and unparalleled creativity.

The competition kicked off with the Malt Maximalism Challenge, where bartenders showcased their ingenuity by reimagining traditional whisky serves to best showcase the rich flavours of Johnnie Walker, Talisker, and The Singleton. Next, bartenders journeyed through their favourite bars, delivering serves that embraced the experimentation and attitude of new Johnnie Walker Black Ruby.

For the third and final challenge, Check On!, bartenders were tasked with creating six classic cocktail serves in six minutes that showcased Diageo’s award winning Reserve portfolio that put their speed to the test as they raced to create the ultimate cocktail. In this final round, Jake Down wowed judges by creating three Mr Black Espresso Martinis, a Don Julio Blanco Margarita, a Bulleit Rye Toronto and a Bulleit Bourbon Mint Julep – all in just six minutes.

After a day of intense competition across the three challenges, judged by an esteemed panel the winners are as follows:

  • Malt Maximalism Challenge
    • Winner: Tom Opie, The Waratah, Sydney
  • Paint The Town Ruby Challenge
    • Winner: Jake Down, Pleasure Club, Sydney
  • Check On! Challenge
    • Winner: Rohan Massie, Rude Boy, Hobart

Additionally, a new category was announced this year – The Bartender’s Bartender – for a finalist who embodied the spirit of the competition voted by their fellow competitors, won by James Irvine from Merivale, Sydney.

Jake Down, says of the win, “Being part of this year’s Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year Australia 2024 competition has been an unforgettable experience. The competition has exposed me to some of the best bartenders in the industry, allowing me to learn and grow alongside incredible talent. I’m honoured to be part of our incredible hospitality community and I can’t wait to represent Australia in September at the global finals.”

Jake is a bartender with over a decade of experience behind the stick, leading teams at culture defining bars of Sydney and abroad including This Must Be The Place, Scout London, Re and Housemade Hospitality. He currently works at Sydney’s Pleasure Club – a world of music, experimental drinks and performance in the heart of Newtown.

Jake Down will now compete in the Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year 2024 Global Finals held in Shanghai, September 9 to 13. There, they will compete against representatives from over 50 other countries in a unique multi-format event and battle it out for the coveted title of Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year 2024.

Kate McGraw, Diageo Head of Advocacy said: “Every year, the talent in the Diageo World Class competition leaves me in awe and 2024 was certainly no exception. This year, the competition highlighted exciting trends in Australian bartending, from textural cocktails to thoughtful serves showcasing local produce. The innovation brought by all competitors has been truly inspiring and is a true testament to the quality of talent we have driving drinks culture in Australia”.

She continues; “All six competitors gave it their all, but we could only crown one Australian Bartender of the Year. Jake Down is an extremely worthy recipient – they wowed us with their cocktail creations and we could not be more excited and proud of them to represent Australia in the Global Finals in Shanghai later this year”.

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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