Australia’s Orlando Marzo, from acclaimed Melbourne restaurant Lûmé, has been named the world’s best bartender at Diageo World Class – the biggest bartending competition on the planet.
Marzo beat more than 10,000 bartenders from every corner of the globe in a competition that spanned five continents, six months, hundreds of challenges and countless cocktails to be crowned World Class Global Bartender of the Year 2018, the competition concluding in Berlin overnight.
Marzo is only the second Australian to triumph in the competition, following in the footsteps of Bulletin Place’s Tim Philips who won in 2012.
“I can’t believe it!” Marzo said upon winning. “Just being here, competing alongside the best bartenders in the world, judged by some of the most iconic names in the business was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but to actually win? I’m still in shock.
“I couldn’t have done it without the support of my amazing team back home – they’ve cheered me on every step of the way!”
The World Class judges were blown away by Marzo’s winning cocktails. Armed with Diageo’s Reserve brands, Marzo took sustainable bartending further than ever before in the Ketel One ‘Better Drinking’ challenge, and reigned supreme in the ‘Flavours of a Nation’ round with his innovative twist on the classic Johnnie Walker Black Label Highball.
To seal the deal, he went head-to-head with his fellow competitors in the ‘Cocktail Clash’ Grand Finale and brought the house down with one show-stopping creation after another.
“All the finalists brought their A game, but Orlando really was on another level,” said Diageo ‘Global Cocktailian’ and judge Lauren Mote.
“The Zacapa aperitif he made for the ‘Before and After’ challenge was one of the best I’ve ever tasted and the way he held his nerve in the ‘Cocktail Clash’ finale – for me, that’s the mark of a truly World Class bartender.”
As winner of World Class 2018, Marzo – who joined Australia’s bar industry at Eau de Vie Melbourne in 2013 – has quite the year ahead of him, and will travel the world as a Diageo representative, making bespoke drinks in far-flung locations and judging competitions himself.
2018 also marked the 10th edition of World Class, with the finals kicking off in Berlin on 5 October. Dozens of the world’s best bartenders gathered for the biggest event on the cocktail competition circuit, with the 56 competitors (pictured below) whittled down to a final four – who put every skill in their bartending arsenal to use in the grand finale.
“For the 10th anniversary of World Class we were on a mission to make this the biggest and best Global Finals yet – and it didn’t disappoint!” said Emily Wheldon, Global Head of World Class.
“Cocktail culture continues to reign, and over the last four days in Berlin, these World Class finalists have set the standard for the year to come. The venue was spectacular, the challenges more innovative and exciting than ever before and the talent on display was second to none. The aim of World Class is to inspire people to care as much about drinks as they do about food, and we’ve certainly achieved that here this weekend!”
Krystal Hart, Australia’s World Class Ambassador, added: “We could not be prouder of Orlando. His success on the global stage is not only a testament to his skill, tenacity and passion for the craft, but demonstrates the quality of Australia’s bar industry and the outstanding young talent we have leading the charge”.
A full replay of the Diageo World Class final challenge is viewable here.