Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year finalists announced

The finalists have been announced for the Diageo World Class Australian Bartender of the Year 2021, with the Australian final taking place on Tuesday, 27 April.

Sydney’s Evan Stroeve (pictured above), Melbourne’s Kayla Saito and David Aznar of the Gold Coast will be battling it out at Sydney’s Paramount House Golden Age Bar, where they will compete in three separate challenges.

The first will have contestants create a cocktail with Ketel One Vodka, using minimal waste and producing maximum flavour. The second will see finalists create a mystery box serve that represents Australia’s land or sea using either Talisker 10 Year Old or Don Julio and a small pantry of classic bar ingredients. The final round will be the speed round where contestants will battle it out on stage in front of a live audience using the Diageo Reserve portfolio.

David Aznar

Australia’s World Class Ambassador Krystal Hart said: “World Class is a phenomenal cocktail competition that each year reaffirms just how impressive our bar industry is. The challenges are designed to not only test how the bartenders use the Diageo Reserve brands to experiment with flavour and balance, but also how they showcase their personality and story behind their serve.

“After 2020, it has been incredible to see first-hand the resilience and creativity from all of the entries across Australia. Our top three have fought a fierce fight and we can’t wait to see these extremely talented cocktail leaders battle it out to be crowned this year’s Australian World Class Bartender of the year.”

The 2021 competition saw bartenders compete in a new digital format where they lodged their drinks via the Diageo Bar Academy before competing in a series of challenges to be placed in the top 100.

The final 100 were then tasked to create an original take on a Johnnie Walker highball, where Stroeve, Saito and Aznar impressed the most to be selected for the grand final event.

Kayla Saito

To celebrate Australia’s winner, a five-day World Class Cocktail Festival will get underway on Wednesday. It will also showcase the best cocktails, live entertainment, pop-up events, immersive brand experiences and dining collaborations.

Australia’s champion will go on to represent the country in the virtual World Class Bartender of the Year finals in July, 2021.

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