World Class

worldclass2Each year the best of the best in bartending meet to determine who will be crowned Diageo’s World Class Bartender of the Year. This year it just so happened to be in Miami and we were fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at this extremely talented group as they competed for the coveted crown of king (or queen) in the world of cocktails.

After 12 grueling months and more than 10,000 entrants from around the world, the top 56 made their way to Miami, ready to unleash their skills. These bartenders are not just cocktail connoisseurs, they raise the bar (figuratively and literally) as true craftsmen and women in the industry. Their talent, innovation, hospitality and knowledge is what got them to World Class, but in Miami they were tested on a whole new level.

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On days 1 and 2, all 56 contestants went through a series of four challenges to showcase their ability to not only create an amazing cocktail but to work under pressure and still provide a memorable experience for their guests. From creating three original cocktails in 15 minutes that showcase the future of cocktails to testing their knowledge of whisky by sampling nine different whiskies and identifying each unmarked sample, the contestants are tested to their limits.

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Day 3 whittled the competition from 56 contestants to 12 to compete in the speed challenge. The contestants were given a list of classic American cocktails, from which they had to make a classic drink and a “twisted” version for each category (for a total of eight drinks).

The final challenge, called the “Miami Shakedown” gave the final six bartenders 24 hours to create a pop-up bar they must fully decorate and create a menu for. This final challenge is where this year’s winner, Jennifer Le Nechet, really wowed the judges. Jennifer, a French bartender at Cafe Moderne in Paris, created a Steampunk themed pop-up bar with cocktails infused with homemade emulsions, cola and organic ingredients.

Johanna Dalley, Global World Class Director said: “This week has been a whirlwind of creativity, flair and amazing talent –  truly raising the role of the bartender to be on a par with that of the world’s leading chefs. And that’s what World Class is all about, inspiring people to drink better and appreciate great drinks in the same way they appreciate great food. The final six were exceptional and it was an extremely close final, however we’re delighted to name Jennifer as our winner and our first female World Class Bartender of the Year.”

Be sure to follow along next year when World Class takes its championship to Mexico City!

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Final picture and quote via.

Pamela Runsick, contributing writer

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