Bartenders, what are your resolutions for the year ahead? Maybe you’re focusing on personal and professional development, or perhaps you’re set on upping your creativity. You may well be looking to widen your network, or quite possibly you’re committed to raising your profile in the industry. Whatever your plans, whatever your ambitions, we have one very important opportunity for you: World Class GB.
In the past 13 years that World Class has been running we’ve seen participants transform in mindset, skill and confidence. Little wonder really. More than a competition, the entire programme is put together with a focus on education, career development and well-rounded hospitality professionals in mind. And this year is no exception.
Kick-starting the competition was the insightful World Class Studios where bartenders across Leeds, London, Edinburgh and surrounding cities joined carefully curated sessions including storytelling, competition tips and tricks and delving into the ever-growing No and Low drinks category.
This was then followed by Community Day which, as well as looking at career progression, addressed the important subject of mental and physical wellbeing and achieving a work/life balance, with an emphasis on nurturing and supporting talent across the board. World Class GB also partnered with Deano Moncreiffe’s Equal Measures – an organisation founded to support individuals and enrich possibilities for those from Black, Asian, and other minority ethnicities – and organised the ‘Beyond the Bottle’ event, where a panel of four amazing women who work across the whisky industry shared their knowledge and passion for the spirit.
“World Class has supported me in my career journey by giving me the knowledge and skill set to make my customers journey within my venue perfect from the minute they enter, to the minute they leave,” James Rawcliffe, Duty Manager at Superico Bar and Lounge in Edinburgh says. “It has allowed me to be able to use my creative ability to write cocktail menus and also help others with their drinks for menus as well,” he adds. “The skills I acquired during the World Class workshops and roadshows have proved to be invaluable over the years,” he says summing up the experience.
Kuba Korzynski, bartender at Milroy’s of Spitalfields agrees, “one of the things that has been invaluable to me was working alongside so many great industry friends, developing my knowledge and passion and improving my skills”. There is also a myriad of networking opportunities, “as well as the competition itself, I enjoyed getting to connect with some talented people, both judges and those participating”, Korzynski adds.
This year there are even more reasons to take part. All competitors will receive written feedback (upon request) so they can learn and progress in future competitions as well as their careers. Plus, those who make it to the Top 100 will be invited to an online presentation session with public speaking supremo Penny Blake. There’s more too, for the first time ever, this year each challenge will have a challenge champion with a threefold prize: an educational element, an experience and a year’s worth of ongoing mentorship.
Are you ready to take your 2023 to the next level? Then let’s begin…
Five things to know about World Class GB 2023
1. First things first
Don’t think that you have to be at a certain level in your career or be working in a five-star hotel bar to enter World Class – everyone, and we really mean everyone, is invited to take part. As Michael Yishak, Assistant General Manager and Bar Manager at Furnace Bar in Sheffield attests, “World Class is one of the biggest stages for those in our industry to break preconceived notions about drinks and show what’s possible. I knew sooner or later that I’d take the plunge – if anything, I wish I’d done it sooner.”
2. The brand ambassadors
You’ll probably know this already but the Diageo Brand Ambassadors really are your friends. They’re the heartbeat of the competition and your go-to to get the most out of your experience. Most of them have taken part in World Class at some point, so they know everything there is to know about the competition. They’re on hand to offer invaluable advice on all aspects of the competition – from submitting your entries to nailing your presentations.
Plus, as mentioned before, all competitors that enter this year will receive written feedback if requested, so they can learn and progress, not only in the competition world but in their careers as well.
3. The judges
Contrary to what you may think, judges really do want competitors to do well. No need to feel embarrassed about the shakes or worry if your voice feels like it belongs to someone else. Take a deep breath, tell yourself you’re chatting to some customers in your bar – what we want is for you to relax and enjoy your moment. Be you. Steady yourself. The next seven or so minutes are your time to shine.
- Practice, practice, practice. Know the brand you’re using, what it brings to the glass and why you’re using it.
- Be prepared but not regimented. You will more than likely have a script of sorts – points that you will want to get across but in the words of Taylor Swift, Shake It Off and make it natural.
- Add some humour, but only if it feels natural.
- Work clean. Sounds simple but in the excitement of presenting, it’s easy to get messy which can cost you vital points.
- Know your judges. It’s not essential but every little helps.
This year’s judges:
Maura Lawrence Milia, Bar Manager at The Connaught bar, London
Erik Lorincz, World Class Global Winner 2010
Deano Moncrieffe, Founder of Equal Measures
Iain McPherson, owner Panda & Sons, Hoot the Redeemer and Nauticus, Edinburgh
Andy Ives and Simon Webster, BarLife UK
Sandrae Lawrence, The Cocktail Lovers
4. The entry process
The entry process is fairly simple, so no need to feel overwhelmed. Get your creative juices flowing and conjure up a one-of-a-kind cocktail based around either Tanqueray No. TEN or Seedlip.
If you go down the Tanqueray No.TEN route, you’ll need to conjure up a ‘Balanced Botanicals’ cocktail, comprised of four integral parts: Tanqueray No.TEN, one floral inspired element, one citrus-inspired element and an element of your choice.
For those gravitating towards Seedlip, think ‘Back Yard Bartender’, as in a non-alcoholic serve inspired by the beauty of nature and starring one of the Seedlip expressions.
Once you’re happy with your recipe, or recipes (you can enter both the Tanqueray No.TEN ‘Balanced Botanicals’ and Seedlip ‘Bank Yard Bartender’ categories if you want to), submit your entry to www.diageobaracademy.com/en_zz/world-class-finals-gb/ by 23.59 on 20 January 2023. And that’s it! The Top 100 will be announced on 1st February 2023.
The next steps
Each of the talented ‘tenders who make it to the Top 100 will be invited to present their drinks to the judges for a taste-test. From there, the list will be whittled down to the Top 50, which will then be followed by a fully immersive semi-final held in London. Next is the Top 10 World Class GB Finals which will be held at Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh.
The overall winner will go on to represent GB in the World Class Global Final taking place in São Paolo in September 2023.
5. The prizes
This year, it’s not just about being crowned World Class GB Bartender of the Year, there are a host of prizes being offered throughout the competition. For the first time, each challenge will have its own champion with a threefold prize: an educational element, an experience and a year’s worth of ongoing mentorship. The challenge champions will also be able to enjoy these experiences together as a group. Cool, no?
Those who make it to the Top 100 will be invited to take part in mentoring sessions with judges, visiting all 100 bars and providing the kind of one-on-one feedback that money can’t buy.
What’s more, by taking part you may even get a chance to represent GB at the World Class Global finals which takes place in São Paulo, Brazil in September 2023.