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

Diageo on a hunt to crown South Africa’s Best Bartender for global stage!

06 July 2023

Eleven bartenders have been selected from around South Africa to create, shake and make their finest cocktails as they compete to be named as the country’s representative in Diageo’s World Class competition.

“World Class is the world’s biggest and most prestigious bar competition which is on a mission to inspire people to drink better while creating unforgettable experiences. By presenting magical cocktail experiences, we aim to encourage consumers to think about fine spirits in the same way they care about fine dining,” said Diageo SA’s, Senior Brand Ambassador, Mealyn Joyce. “One drink can change your life.”

The finalists are, from Johannesburg, Lucinda Zinyemba of Lucy’s Magic, Kelvin Mabaya and Julian Short of Sin + Tax, Thabiso Mabanna of SIP Exclusive, Maynard Boozen from Ethos; and from Cape Town, Mthandazo Mweli from The Drinkery, Rhys Mc Beth from Bar by Rhys and Independent Mixologist Alana Durow. Gqeberha is represented by Liam Jukes of Tapas, while Jason Andrews from Liquid Concepts and Richie Nahlaka from Alchemy Bar hail from Durban.

The prestigious 2023 judges are chef Wandile Mbaso who has worked at Michelin star establishments, award-winning bar professional Cassandra Eichhoff, food writer Neo Nontso and World Class SA champion 2022 Joshua Hendricks.

World Class has supported, trained and inspired over 400,000 bartenders, across 60 countries, for over 12 years, while partnering them with the world’s finest spirits – the Diageo Reserve collection

Three of the finalists – Mabanna, Mabaya and Zinyemba are graduates of Diageo’s The Hand-Up Mentorship Programme which aims to upskill bartenders through training, while adding diversity and inclusion to those seen behind the country’s bars, with more women and more people of colour.

“Diageo knows that the best performing businesses prioritise inclusion and diversity and we believe it is crucial to create a culture with inclusion and diversity at its heart. Our commitment starts with our people and our aim is to ensure that all our people around the world thrive, by shaping market-leading policies and practices,” Joyce said.

The South African national finals take place in Johannesburg from 09 – 12 July 2023, with finalists tasked to complete five challenges, each with their own score requirements:

  • From Still to Barrel Speed Round: Make eight signature serves within six minutes
  • Mastery Identification: A compilation of mini-challenges to test both skills and cocktail knowledge
  • From Kilmarnock to Ekasi: This Johnnie Walker Gold challenge includes a social media campaign element
  • Drink Masters Brunch: With a fixed budget and 60-minute time frame, the finalists must create a welcome drink and cocktail which demonstrates culinary flair to pair with a snack.
  • Por amor al Tequila: Finalists create a pop-up bar using Don Julio tequila in a cocktail with a “Mexican cantina with a South African Twist” theme. They will serve the judges and 250 consumers.

The winner will represent South Africa at the Diageo global World Class competition in São Paulo, Brazil from 23 – 30 September 2023.