Diageo Reserve's World Class

Author: Pat Nourse
Photography: Anthony Geernaert

This week saw the final throes of the most hotly contested professional cocktail competition in the land, Diageo Reserve's World Class. The finals decided who will go on to represent Australia in the global competition (the current World's Best Bartender is Sydney's Tim Philips, of Bulletin Place) and, perhaps more importantly, who scores a cool $100,000 to put towards the opening of their own establishment.

Luke Ashton of Sydney bar Vasco (pictured) took out top honours, his trademark sangfroid deserting him for a moment, leaving him a little shaken and quite well stirred, when his name was read aloud. Evan Stanley, bartender at Melbourne's Black Pearl, took out second place, while Rinna Kato, bartender at Bacchus in Queensland, came third.

We saw Perhaps the most impressive section of the competition was Build Your Own Bar. Entrants were given a small budget to design and build their own pop-up, open for one night only to the public in The Star's cavernous event space, and the imagination on show was considerable. We give big props to Brisbane bartender Krystal Hart's silent disco (even if the dub tunes wouldn't have been our first choice), the recreation of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello plantation fashioned by Kodiak Club's Ben Lancaster, and the crates-and-craziness ultra-kawaii style of Rinna Kato's Harajuku hideaway.

The drink It had to be Ashton's rhubarb-soured Tanqueray 10 number, the DeLorean, served at his 80s-themed bar, This Must Be The Place.

We loved The detailing, whether it was the autographed Bruce Willis (with hair!) portrait, the steer skulls at Roosevelt bartender Jess Arnott's scarlet-curtained lair or Lancaster's use of Spanish moss.

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