Kaitlyn Stewart from Canada has been announced as the global winner in Diageo Reserve’s World Class Bartender of the Year competition in Mexico City.
Over the past week, Kaitlyn (pictured) and the other finalists from around the world have been put through challenges which tested every single skill that makes a bartender truly great.
They battled it out in the Lucha Libre ring, going head to head to create their best classic cocktail, and created fiery drinks in the Heat of the Moment challenge, showing how to break boundaries in cocktail making by incorporating the best of culinary techniques.
As global environmental awareness rises, they took on the Mex-Eco challenge to show how bartenders can look for new ways to create the ultimate environmentally friendly cocktail.
The World Class Bartender of the Year competition is the biggest in the world with over 10,000 bartenders from 57 countries having entered it. After winning their regional competitions, 55 gathered in Mexico City on Sunday (August 20), including GB winner Jamie Jones.
Kaitlyn and Jamie were among the 10 who made it through to the penultimate round, Lucha Libre. They were then down to four with Kaitlyn joined by Denmark’s Máté Csatlós from Kabuku at Umami in Copenhagen, Turkey’s Kevin Patnode from Kulhanbeyi in Istanbul and Australia’s Andrea Gualdi from Maybe Frank in Sydney, who were tested on their knowledge, creativity and mastery of the classics and signature serves.
Kaitlyn, who works at Royal Dinette in Vancouver, will now have the chance to travel the world as a Diageo Reserve brand ambassador, making drinks in far-flung locations and judging competitions. She will also join a roll call of the industry’s finest, becoming the ninth member of the World Class Hall of Fame.
Kaitlyn said: “I’m so incredibly amazed and shocked to have been named the world’s best bartender. It’s been a gruelling week, taking on the toughest challenges against some of most skilled bartenders I’ve ever met.
“Participating in the finals was amazing enough but to finish the week as winner. I’m so delighted!
“Cocktails are on the up now more than ever and to be at the forefront of that, pushing forward the idea of using better ingredients and better recipes to create even better cocktails is something I’m really passionate about and I’ve loved every moment of this experience.”
Johanna Dalley, global World Class director, said: “This is a special week in the bartender calendar and it didn’t disappoint – we have truly been blown away.
“Cocktail culture is booming and these World Class finalists are the people who are leading the way, helping the industry grow from strength to strength.
“At World Class we are on a mission to inspire people to drink better and shape the future of drinking, whether at home or in the bar.
“The World Class finals are an incredible way of bringing us one step closer to that and we couldn’t do it without the incredible bartending talent that we’ve seen on display this week who continually inspire and entertain.”
Lauren Mote, one of the judges, commented: “Every finalist was incredible but for me Kaitlyn really stood out. Her Lucha Libre performance was exceptional, the way she handled the Heat of the Moment round blew me away.
“And by the time it came to the final challenge, we wanted to find someone bursting with skill, knowledge and charisma, with unbelievable creativity and an incredible mastery of the classic and signature serves. Kaitlyn well and truly delivered. It was a phenomenal thing to witness and be a part of.”
Earlier in the competition, World Class revealed four trends expected to change cocktail culture in the next year. Lauren said: “The aim of World Class is not just to find the best bartenders in the world. We also want to inspire cocktail fans around the world to drink better – we want more ‘armchair mixologists’ to have the courage to explore what’s possible and create their own signature serves in the kitchen.
“Next year we expect just that: people experimenting with cocktails at home. We also expect sustainability to become a driving force behind cocktail creation, be that in the ingredients used or the methods applied.
“Signature serves will feature more and more as bars strive to create unique drinks experiences for cocktail tourists. And lastly, we think enlightened mixologists will adopt ingredients and cutting edge techniques from a transformed gastronomy culture, pushing the parameters of cocktail making as we know it.”
For next year’s global final, World Class will celebrate its 10th anniversary in Berlin. Johanna explained: “Berlin is famous for its diverse nightlife and vibrant bar culture – a perfect place to host our 2018 World Class finals. The streets are lined with cutting-edge bars, all pushing the boundaries of cocktail culture and helping people get more from their drinks. Not just that, the style of the city and its creative and diverse cultural make-up, means that it will be a spectacular experience for everyone.”
Kaitlyn Stewart’s winning recipes
(measures in US fluid ounces)
Mex-Eco challenge: Diced Pineapples
1.5oz Tanqueray No Ten
A pinch of sea salt flakes
0.75oz Lime husk
0.5oz Pineapple gomme
1oz Pineapple kasu
0.5oz Junmai Nama Nigori Sake
1 dash Bittered Sling Lem-Marrakech Bitters
2 pieces Dehydrated pineapple
A pinch of grated black lime
3 Pineapple leaves
Combine all ingredients into a shaker tin. Vigorously shake for 10 to 12 seconds. Fine-strain into a chilled recycled pineapple juice can over ice. Garnish with black lime, dehydrated pineapple and pineapple leaves.
Signature cocktail challenge: Spilt Milk
1.5oz Bulleit Rye
0.25oz Son of Vancouver Amaretto
0.5oz Milk liqueur
0.5oz Cherry shrub
A pinch of sea salt flakes
2 Lemon wedges
1 dash Apricot kernel bitters
1 Lemon twist
1 Ginger snap
Combine all ingredients into a shaker tin. Vigorously shake for 10 to 12 seconds. Fine-strain into a mini milk bottle over crushed ice. Garnish with a twist of lemon and a ginger-snap cookie.
Heat of the Moment challenge: Boy named Sue
1.5oz Johnnie Walker Black Label
1oz Rapid-infusion Pimm’s
Garnish: Flamed rosemary, charred lemon wheel, pineapple fronds
Combine all ingredients into shaker tin. Vigorously shake for 12 seconds. Fine-strain over ice in a Collins glass. Top with soda.
Cocktails at Home challenge: Detox and Tonic
1.5oz Tequila Don Julio Añejo
4 pieces of pineapple
0.5oz Lemongrass syrup
1tbsp Grated ginger
0.5oz Lime juice
Updated 28 August 2017 with recipes.