Excitement is building for the World Class Cocktail Festival, launching in Sydney this week. The festival will give cocktail lovers the chance to travel the world via drinks experiences and kicks off with Diageo World Class revealing Australia’s best bartenders for 2021.
Evan Stroeve (RE, Sydney), Kayla Saito (Leonardo’s Pizza Palace, Melbourne) and David Aznar(Rosella’s, Gold Coast) were selected from hundreds of bartending superstars and will compete in the national finals tonight, with the winner crowned this year’s Australian World Class Bartender of the Year.
Drinks Digest talked to Krystal Hart (above), Australia’s World Class Ambassador, about what the celebration means to the local bar scene.
Are you excited to be involved in promoting the Australian hospitality industry as it recovers from the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns?
World Class Cocktail Festival marks a significant milestone, with seven of the world’s best bars nestled right here in Australia what better way to come together as an industry and celebrate the beautiful ecosystem of bars that focus on quality dining experiences, award-winning cocktails and the award-winning talent from our local bartending community! I feel so incredibly overwhelmed by the sheer talent in Australia and being able to provide a platform to share their incredible craftsmanship is a pretty spectacular feeling.
How did Australia’s best bars react when they were asked to participate?
We’ve been blown away by the eagerness from bar owners and operators to participate in the festival. In fact some have mentioned how inclusive and community minded the program feels, helping connect bars under the umbrella of a program like this showcases how truly remarkable the Australia hospitality industry is.
It’s an amazing coup to get them all involved – you must feel really proud.
I couldn’t be more humbled by the response from venues to get involved. This is the first year we’ve launched the program and its overwhelming the response we’ve had.
Who do you think will enjoy attending the festival?
World Class Cocktail Festival is aimed at broad audience – if you’re a foodie, love cocktails, live music or after a burst of the culture this festival is for you!
Have you been in contact with other World Class ambassadors around the world – how are they reacting to the reopening of the Australian bar scene?
Yes I have, we’re really fortunate to have a very connected global team of ambassadors who work with World Class as a program. We’re also very fortunate to be hosting World Class in Australia this year, especially given the varying circumstances around the world. Heading into our National finals on April 27, we’ll be hosting our three national finalists to determine who will come away as our Australian World Class Champion for 2021!
Are they watching closely to see how the Australian bar scene is evolving in the current COVID climate?
Australia has always been a heavily watched market, with such a rich and vibrant cocktail scene. With night life and bars reopening Australia-wide it certainly leaves us here in Australia feel very hopeful for the future. There’s lots of anticipation around our World Class national finals and the globe will be keen to see who will be crowned the World Class winner for 2021 in Australia.
How do you think the Australian bar scene has changed in the last 12 months?
Similarly other markets around the globe, the last 12 months has been extremely tough for the Australian bar scene, but looking forward from the events of 2020 we’re looking at an excited and hopeful industry, as welcome competitions like World Class and festivals that champion the vibrant culture bar culture like World Class Cocktail Festival give venues an opportunity to showcase what they do best, while encouraging more customers to experience all that the Australian hospitality community has to offer.
Australia is hosting the global final of Diageo World Class next year – what will that mean to the local industry?
Hosting the global final in Australia will be huge for our local community. It will bring with it global talent, exposure on a global stage and an opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the world just how talented our industry is. We can’t wait!
New pop-ups, pairings & parties added to World Class Cocktail Festival line-up
As the World Class Cocktail Festival approaches, more of Australia’s best bars have announced bespoke cocktail experiences, fun collaborations, and one-off parties to the mix during the festival, which runs from April 27 to May 2.
Flex Mami will now curate entertainment for the Paramount House Recreation Club rooftop series on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 May. The Don Julio Flex Mami & Friends Sessions from 2 – 8pm are set to be a highlight, taking the tempo up to ignite the
dancefloor as the sun sets over Surry Hills, the World Class Cocktail Festival precinct.
One of Sydney’s hottest new venues Sammy Junior, has teamed up with Ketel One and Mr Black coffee liqueur to serve up personalised espresso martinis and Irish coffees on Friday night. You can get creative and customise your design in the foam, opting for personalised pictures, messages, or both for the most Instagrammable moment.
A Disco Night will be held at Double Deuce, with 70s soul and funk tunes being served up alongside 70s-inspired Ketel One cocktails. More music will be rocking the Ramblin Rascal with Copper Dog whisky creations available at the bar, as well as Earl’s Juke Joint teaming up with Ketel One to put on a nostalgic 90s night and enjoy some after dark fun at Big Poppa’s with a DJ and Tanqueray N° TEN negronis whilst you get down on the dance floor.
Take a walk down memory lane and sip your way through the history of the cocktail, discovering the ‘Golden Age of the Cocktail’ at Door Knock, with previous World Class Australian Bartender of the Year winner Alex Boon serving
specially curated retro cocktail options.
And for those after a cocktail and bite to eat, PS40 will be hosting a pop-up with ‘Big’ Sam Young and Tanqueray. At Old Mate’s Place, they will be serving up a delicious Japanese taco lunch to feast on alongside Johnnie Walker. Kittyhawk will be hosting a bougie night with Ketel One martinis, oysters and snacks, and Dead Ringer will be hosting a Sunday brunch with a range of Ketel One spritzes on offer.
Across Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide, more than 80 venues have put their hand up to
join the festivities by offering locals a bespoke $15 cocktail option over the five days.
The World Class Cocktail Festival program can be found at www.worldclasscocktailfestival.com with all booking links and further information.
Click here to read more about the World Class Cocktail Festival.