The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

The world’s best bartender has been crowned

Canadian bartender James Grant has taken out the number one spot at the Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year global finals 2021.

Over five days, Grant and 49 other bartenders were streamed live from their home countries as they virtually competed against each other in a series of unique challenges that tested their skills, creativity and showmanship.

The finalists tasked to create a Johnnie Walker highball that reflected the flavours and culture of their home city; host a masterclass for making a World Class Tanqueray No. Ten cocktail at home; design a Ketel One vodka cocktail that had a positive environmental impact and a sense of community at its core, and produce an original subterranean-inspired Don Julio serve.

The week was rounded off with a special edition ‘Malts’ speed round challenge using The Singleton and Talisker, that not only tested the finalists’ efficiency but also the quality and design of their cocktails.

“Our first-ever virtual World Class Global Final has been a huge success and has resulted in one the most innovative and creative competitions we have ever seen,” says Simon Earley, Global Head of Diageo World Clas.

James Grant

“The judges were blown away by James’ creativity and originality, creating serves that were amazing to experience visually, virtually and in person. They are a fully deserving winner and I’m really excited to start working with them as a World Class ambassador in the year ahead.”

Grant says being chosen as this year’s winner is unbelievable.

“When I started my journey in bartending I never thought it would lead me here,” he says.

“I was simply inspired by the community and creativity of everyone around me, it was infectious and soon I had fallen in love with the craft and opportunities.

“It gave me the drive and determination to seek out the best in the business to learn from and that’s what got me here today.”

Grant is the 12th bartender to enter the World Class Hall of Fame and over the next 12 months he will judge the World Class national heats; inspire 2022 hopefuls and crown regional champions.

For more information on World Class, click here.

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