World Class UK finalists take to the skies

Anna Friel launches the World Class UK final on board a British Airways A380 flight to Hong Kong

The remaining four UK finalists in Diageo Reserve’s World Class competition have taken to the skies to compete mid-air on a flight to Hong Kong.

After a finalists’ knock-out heat in London on Monday, the line-up is Massimo Zitti from Cane & Grain in Manchester, Richard Tring from Red Light in Bristol, James Fowler from The Larder House in Bournemouth and Nathan O’Neill from Milk & Honey in London.

They took off today for Hong Kong on British Airways’ A380 superjumbo, helped on their way by actor Anna Friel who brought some 1960s-style glamour to the launch with her vintage 1965 Yves Saint Laurent dress from William Vintage.

She sampled the cocktails created by the finalists before they set off on the next leg of the competition: making the ultimate in-flight cocktail at 35,000 feet with limited glassware, equipment and time.

The winner will be announced during the return flight from Hong Kong to Heathrow on June 1. The winning cocktail will be served in British Airways’ First lounge at Terminal 5 from August.

Anna said: “I wish all four finalists the very best of luck while they battle it out at 35,000 feet. I’m very much looking forward to sampling the winner’s cocktail next time I fly with British Airways.”

Gareth Evans, group bar manager for Jason Atherton’s bar and restaurant group, is one of the judges after winning World Class in 2013. “Winning the Diageo Reserve World Class UK 2013 was a real career highlight for me. I’m excited to be a part of the competition again this year although I’m pleased it will be less stressful for me this time!

“Taste buds change at altitude, and there are many factors that need to be considered when making a cocktail mid-flight so I’m looking forward to seeing how the finalists cope with these additional challenges. I wish them all the best of luck.”

Kate Thornton, British Airways’ head of product and service, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Diageo Reserve World Class for the third year running. Creating cocktails which taste as good at altitude as they do on the ground, with limited space and resources will be the ultimate challenge even for the most talented of mixologists.

“Our First Class customers are used to having the best of everything – be that how they fly, where they stay or what they eat and drink, so we are sure the winning cocktail will be greatly received by them.”

Click here to see the latest news stories from

Previous Urban Leisure Group opens seventh site
Next Renaissance Pubs launches seventh site