Diageo World Class has revealed Australia’s best bartender for 2021: Evan Stroeve, from the newly opened RE bar in Sydney. Stroeve competed against Kayla Saito (Leonardo’s Pizza Palace, Melbourne) and David Aznar (Rosella’s, Gold Coast) in the National Finals at Paramount House Golden Age Bar and impressed the judges with his skill, consistency and creativity.
Beating hundreds of bartenders from across the nation through a series of challenges, Stroeve will now compete in the first-ever virtual global final of World Class from July 4-8. Joining more than 60 other global finalists representing their country, Stroeve will live stream his skills as he makes his way through a series of competition tasks set to take bartending standards to the limit.
As he simply wrote on Instagram after his win: “Ma, I made it.”
The 2021 Australian competition also saw entrants compete in the new digital format; a move forced by the impacts of COVID-19 internationally. Each bartender lodged their drinks via the Diageo Bar Academy before competing in challenges where they used Reserve Brands including Don Julio tequila, Ketel One vodka, Tanqueray No.TEN gin, and Johnnie Walker Black Label blended Scotch whisky to experiment with flavour, balance and creativity.
One of the challenges the finalists were set was to create a bottle cocktail using Ketel One Vodka, with minimal waste and maximum flavour. The bottle cocktail Stroeve presented raised enough money to be donated to Greening Australia, an Australian company that plants forestry across the country to offset emissions, to offset 12 tonnes of carbon. This lead to the entire World Class finals yesterday being carbon neutral.
Stroeve said: “To be competing alongside David and Kayla [pictured above], some of the best bartenders in the country is such an honour in itself. I have competed in the Diageo World Class three times now and to finally take out the win surrounded by my family, friends and long term mentor Tim Philips-Johansson [owner of Bulletin Place and previous World Class Global Winner] is a momentous moment in my career, I’m still letting it sink in!
“I was so excited to be able to showcase what we do at RE and what I have learnt from Matt Whiley [owner of RE] especially within the Ketel One sustainability challenge. The level of talent in the competition was incredibly high so it’s a massive achievement not only for me, but hopefully this shows Australia the calibre of cocktails we create at RE and they stop in to say hi and congrats.”
Krystal Hart (above, left), Australia’s World Class Ambassador, added: “Each year I am blown away from the talent that comes forward for World Class. Even with the change of format this year I feel we were able to reach even more incredible talent from across Australia who were ready to show off their creativity and skills using Diageo’s Reserve Brands. Coming together last night at Paramount House to watch these incredibly talented individuals battle it out was beyond and I’m so excited to see Evan represent Australia in the global finals and show the world what we are made of.”
Currently in its 12th year, the WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year competition continues to support, educate and inspire more than 350,000 bartenders through its advocacy programs. Now spanning more than 60 countries, with more than 10,000 bartenders entering the competition each year, it continues to be instrumental in transforming fine drinking and cocktail culture around the world.
To celebrate the crowning of this year’s winner, from Wednesday, April 28, the bustling suburb of Surry Hills and
Sydney’s CBD will come alive with the World Class Cocktail Festival, five days of bespoke cocktails, live
entertainment, pop-up events, immersive brand experiences and dining collaborations, all championing the very best
of Sydney’s diverse bar scene.
More information on The World Class Cocktail Festival the program can be found at www.worldclasscocktailfestival.com.