Bannie Kang from Singapore (ANTI:DOTE) has been named the world’s best bartender for 2019 at the biggest cocktail competition on the planet: Diageo Reserve World Class Global Bartender of the Year.
Thousands of incredible bartenders from across six continents crafted countless cocktails before being whittled down through a series of national heats to an elite group of 53 of the world’s best bartenders. They were invited to take part in a series of challenges across four days in the Netherlands and Scotland, before Bannie was crowned the world’s best at an exclusive event in Glasgow’s famous west end. Cameron Attfield, representing GB achieved a spot in the top eight impressing judges with his technique and creativity in the series of challenges.
Simon Earley, Head of Diageo World Class, said: “This year’s competition was one of the most competitive we’ve ever had. The skill and talent of the bartenders battling it out across all the different challenges was awe-inspiring. Bannie Kang is a worthy winner and her technique, temperament, and artisanship really stood out across the four days.”
At the Ketel One Distillery in Schiedam, Netherlands, the finalists were tasked with creating cocktails that had a positive environmental impact and a sense of community at their core. They were then whisked to Scotland, to the Talisker Distillery on the windswept Isle of Skye, where they were presented with a ‘mystery box’ of ingredients and bar tools and challenged to mix up a Talisker masterpiece.
Final stop was Glasgow and the hub of the four-day drinks culture experience. At the city’s transformed SWG3 event space, finalists were required to create cocktails that respected, enhanced and complemented renowned single malt The Singleton; devise a cocktail flight of three small drinks that explored the fresh citrus heart of Tanqueray No. Ten; excel at a Johnnie Walker ‘highball in a can’ challenge; and ace a final speed round where they were judged by industry legends on the quality of their cocktail-making under immense time pressures.
Simon Earley added: “At first glance, Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year is all about inviting the planet’s finest bartenders to take part in a huge competition using the very best spirits available. But it’s also about getting all these incredible talents working and learning together, so they can inspire each other and spark ideas off each other that will elevate drinks culture globally, for everybody’s benefit.”
This year’s world’s best, Bannie Kang, was selected by a judging panel made up of former winners, award-winning mixologists, drinks writers, and journalists. They will spend the next 12 months as a global ambassador for Diageo’s Reserve brands, travelling the world and judging World Class national heats; inspiring 2020’s hopefuls and crowning regional champions; completing guest shifts in the world’s best bars; and playing a role in Diageo’s global partnership with IMG’s Taste Festivals.
Bannie Kang said: “This has been an incredible experience. It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of hard work – a real whirlwind. I’d like to say well done to all the finalists – there were so many incredible drinks created this week it could have been any of us who won. I’ve learnt a lot and made some friends for life. It was a privilege to spend the last five days with these guys, working with these incredible spirits brands, at the best bartending competition in the world. To have won is the cherry on the cake.”
Since its launch in 2009, Diageo World Class has played a significant role in transforming fine drinking cocktail culture around the world. Over 300,000 bartenders across the globe have been supported, trained and inspired by World Class since its inception and Bannie Kang is the eleventh elite bartender to enter its Hall of Fame.
At the final it was also revealed that the 12th annual Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year final will take place in Sydney. Andrew Oughton, Diageo Australia Marketing & Innovation Director, said: “We’re incredibly excited to welcome the world’s biggest and best bartending competition to Sydney in 2020. A vibrant food and drinks scene is at the heart of any great city’s culture and we can’t wait to showcase ours next September. Get your passports ready and start practising your skills now because Australia’s bartenders are going to show why we’ve produced two World Class winners in the competition’s 11-year history, leading the charge with creativity, flair and talent. It’s going to be a brilliant celebration of Australian hospitality and our diverse and innovative drinks culture. I can’t wait!”