Meet Australia’s Top 3 Bartenders

April 16, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

Evan Stroeve (RE, Sydney), Kayla Saito (Leonardo’s Pizza Palace, Melbourne) and David Aznar (Rosella’s, Gold Coast) have been named Australia’s Best Bartenders for 2021 by Diageo.

The three were chosen from a pool of 100 finalists for their consistent and beautifully curated taked on a “Surprisingly Delicious” Johnnie Walker Highball.

The three will now compete in the Australian finals on Tuesday, 27 April at the home of World Class Cocktail Festival, Paramount House Golden Age Bar. The event is a prelude to Diageo’s World Class Cocktail Festival from Wednesday, 28 April championing the very best of Sydney’s diverse bar scene.

They’ll compete across three separate challenges to contest for the title of Australian World Class Bartender of the Year with the winner then going on to represent the nation in the World Class Bartender of the Year finals in July.

Challenge One- Ketel One Vodka – Future Proof, Sustainably Bottled

Finalists to draw inspiration from the past in order to create a meaningful impact for our future by creating a bottles cocktail using Ketel One Vodka with minimal waste and maximum flavour.

Challenge Two – Talisker 10 Year Old or Don JulioLand & Sea Mystery Box

Australia is home to the sixth largest coastline in the world, with a vast and rich desert with native and iconic flora and fauna.  

This challenge will ask the finalists to create a mystery box serve that embodies the land or sea using either Talisker 10 Year Old or Don Julio, with a small pantry of classic bar ingredients.

Challenge Three – Diageo Reserve Portfolio – Speed Round

Finishing off with a bang, the finalists will take their place on the Main Stage at the Golden Age Bar with music and a live audience, for an energetic speed round to test their skills using the Diageo Reserve Portfolio.  

Krystal Hart, Australia’s World Class Ambassador, added: “World Class is a phenomenal cocktail competition that each year reaffirms just how impressive our bar industry is. The challenges are designed to not only test how the bartenders use the Diageo Reserve brands to experiment with flavour and balance, but also how they showcase their personality and story behind their serve.

“After 2020, it has been incredible to see first-hand the resilience and creativity from all of the entries across Australia. Our top three have fought a fierce fight and we can’t wait to see these extremely talented cocktail leaders battle it out to be crowned this year’s Australian World Class Bartender of the year.”  

The 2021 Australian competition saw bartenders compete in a new digital format, where they lodged their drinks via the Diageo Bar Academy before competing in a series of challenges using Diageo Reserve Brands to experiment with flavour, balance and creativity, across Don Julio tequila, Ketel One vodka, Tanqueray No.TEN gin, and Johnnie Walker Black Label blended Scotch whisky.

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