A Collection Of Restaurant, Food, Drink And Hospitality News From All Over South Africa

Diageo hunts for a star bartender to fly the South African flag on global stage!

09 July 2024

  • Liam Jukes VUE Shortmarket

Nine bartenders from around South Africa are shaking and stirring their creativity to invent cocktails worthy of a ticket to Shanghai and the international finals of this year’s Diageo World Class competition.

The national finalists in the world’s biggest and most prestigious bar competition will go head-to-head over three days as they show off their creativity, knowledge, preparation techniques and commitment to continuous learning.

“We’re celebrating the 15th edition of World Class in 2024, and we’re expecting our national champion to fly the South African flag high in Shanghai with the best bartenders from more than 60 countries,” said Diageo SA’s Reserve Brand Ambassador, Nicci Denman.

“After competitive regional finals, the national finals are sure to deliver stunning cocktail experiences that will encourage consumers who enjoy fine dining to approach the possibilities of fine spirits in the same way.”

Johannesburg provides five of the finalists, including Alex Fahrenheim, Dan Knodl and Burdett Geiling from the canned cocktail company Just Short. They’re joined by Jody Rahme of Father Coffee and Devon Andreka of Obscura. Cape Town is represented by Liam Jukes of VUE Shortmarket and Philip Burrows of Tjing Tjing. The Durban finalists, both from Ballito, are independent mixologist Jason Andrews and Jono Harrison of Alchemy.

The judges are last year’s World Class national champion, Julian Short, the owner of Sin + Tax in Rosebank; Ryan Duvenage, Diageo’s head trainer in Africa; Lungi Nhlanhla, a private chef from Durban; and a surprise judge for each of the finals’ three days.

The national finals in Johannesburg from 14-16 July will include five challenges, each with its own score requirements. The top six will be chosen after the first two challenges and will go on to compete in the remaining three challenges.

  • Make it a 10: Produce two Tanqueray No. TEN-based classic cocktails (with a twist) within eight minutes.
  • Singleton Disco: Create an innovative cocktail that elevates a single malt whisky and showcases flavour in an unexpected but fun way.
  • Whisky Mastery: A compilation of mini challenges involving flavour matching, a knowledge test and a blind tasting.
  • Mystery Box: Incorporate a randomly selected ingredient into two cocktails based on a Don Julio tequila variant.
  • Bar of the Future: Create and explain a concept for the future of the bar industry. Bring it to life with four cocktails and a bar space created on a budget of R5,000.

The winner will compete in the international finals in Shanghai from 9 to 13 September and Denman says: “To get there, our national champion will need to show mastery of innovative ingredients, creative presentation, meticulous balance, exceptional preparation techniques, inspiring stories and consistent quality.”

World Class has supported, trained and inspired more than 400,000 bartenders, across 60 countries, while partnering them with the world’s finest spirits – the Diageo Reserve collection.

In South Africa, Diageo’s Hand-Up Mentorship Programme aims to upskill bartenders through training while adding diversity and inclusion to those seen behind the country’s bars, with more women and people of colour. The custodians of the programme are Diageo SA’s brand ambassadors: Denman, Sean Tantsi and Nduduzo Mdletshe.

VUE Shortmarket

VUE Shortmarket

Cape Town Central, Western Cape Contemporary, International, Light Meals

Experience the perfect blend of sophistication and relaxed charm at Vue Shortmarket, a rooftop oasis nestled in the heart of Cape Town. Immerse yourself in an atmosphere that merges chic Art Deco d...