The World Class 2017 cocktail competition got underway in Mexico City this week, seeing 55 of the globe’s best bartenders battling it out for the top honor. Over the course of four days, the victors of the Diageo World Class national heats will face off in a series of grueling tests to see who will be named World Class 2017 winner.
“This is the biggest and best-bartending competition in the world and biggest World Class competition yet,” said Johanna Dalley, director of the World Class 2017 competition.
“We are delighted to welcome the world’s best bartenders as they compete for the title of World Class Bartender of the Year.”
“This is the ninth year we’ve run this competition and, if the past eight years are anything to go by, we’re set for a week of some of the most incredible cocktail making, all within one of the most vibrant cities in the world – Mexico City.”
“The cocktail revolution is booming and these bartenders are leading the way. Expect to see the pinnacle of bartending creations and new trends which will set the cocktail agenda for months and years to come.” continued Dalley.
After a difficult two-day final in the national heats, Jamie Jones of The Social Company was crowned Diageo Reserve GB’s World Class Bartender of the Year 2017. Now, he heads to Mexico to compete in the global final.
The United States entrant for this year is Chris Cardone of I Sodi Bar. According to the World Class Competition website: “Chris has been bartending since he was 18 and nearly 19 years later, bartending still has his heart on fire! Chris had an ‘ah ha’ moment to commit to becoming a career bartender on a trip to London where he was inspired by a bartender in Notting Hill when he was 28. His future dreams are to fulfill his love of traveling, for personal and financial success, to continue growing and challenging himself and to eventually find his place as a true mentor in the industry.”
In 2016, French bartender Jennifer Le Nechet of the Café Moderne in Paris won the World Class 2016 global finals at the main event in Miami, FL.
Le Nechet told website Le Cocktail Connoisseur: “I studied Spanish and South American civilization and literature at university and after graduating I didn’t really know what to do. One of my best friends insisted I work at his brasserie to earn a little bit of money and I said yes. I started as a waitress and did some shifts behind the bar as often as possible throughout the year. Of course, as it was a brasserie I was mainly making mojitos or cosmopolitan cocktails, but I really liked it. I moved to another place for 3 years, and even though it was still a brasserie, there was a more complex cocktail menu which included some signature drinks.”
“This is where I began to create my own cocktails, infusions, and bitters for the first time and I became more and more attracted by the chemistry and creativity involved. But I was a self-made woman and I felt I needed a mentor… someone who could coach me to move to another level. So I asked the bartenders at Calabar if they knew good bars that were looking for a bartender. They suggested Red House but they had already found someone, so they sent me to Café Moderne.”
“I arrived at 6.30pm on a gloomy winters evening, I had a long discussion with Mido during the set-up which is not common and he asked me back for a trial, even though he had a lot of people applying. I’ve now been working here for 1.5 years and I feel like our meeting was fate. From the very beginning, he asked me if I would be interested in competing and he explained to me his own experience from the World Class competition. I thought I would begin to compete in two years, but in 2015 I watched the French final for World Class and it blew my mind.”
“I attended my first master class soon after and thought if I prepare, work hard and create something I am proud of, I would present and enter my cocktail for World Class 2016. I was selected with my cocktail, l’amulette and then I had two very intensive months to prepare for the French final, which I won. I flew to Miami in September and wow, I won World Class 2016. I was the first French person and the first woman to win the competition.”