The finalists in the 2016 Diageo World Class Bartender Competition – the fifth in South Africa – have been announced. The top six were selected based on the points they notched up in their respective regional finals, held earlier in May this year. This marks a change in the competition structure, which in previous years has admitted the top contestants from the individual Cape Town, Durban and Joburg heats.
Here they are:
Brent Perremore of Kloof Street House
Current rank: 1st in Cape Town
No surprises here, as Brent took the national crown in both 2012 and 2014. Usually contestants can’t enter after winning twice, but red-tape issues prevented him from getting to the globals in 2014, so he’s been permitted another crack at qualifying.
Vlad Klaic of Shaker Bar School
Current rank: 2nd in Cape Town
With more than 14 years in the industry, Vlad spends his days training wannabe bartenders, so he certainly knows what he’s doing. His first World Class was last year, where he placed third in Cape Town’s regionals, just missing the national cut off. He’s upped his game this year and will be one to watch.
Justin Shaw of Casa del Sol
Current rank: 3rd in Cape Town
Justin wowed the judges with both his storytelling and presenting skills in the regionals. He’s been bartending for less than two years, on the outskirts of Cape Town, so he’s a bit of dark horse who could well shake things up at the finals.
Dominic Walsh of Molecular Bars
Current rank: 1st in Joburg
Dom has a couple of titles under his belt, and has already represented SA twice internationally. He competed in World Class in 2013 , but had to withdraw after taking a brand ambassador position with Edward Snell & Co. As Joburg’s number one, he’ll definitely give Brent a run for his money in the nationals.
Dino Batista of Molecular Bars
Current rank: 2nd in Joburg
Dino has already won one national cocktail contest this year – the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge – and will also provide stiff competition. He owns Molecular Bars along with Dominic Walsh and Domenico de Lorenzo, who was SA's best bartender in 2015. It’s clear the Molecular boys are rocking it in the world of cocktails.
Julian Short of The Landmark
Current rank: 3rd in Joburg
Julian is a newbie to the bar scene, but he trained under Gareth Wainwright, cocktail guru extraordinaire who left his position as Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador to open The Landmark in 2014. Julian didn’t waste any time and won Olmeca’s Tahona Society champs in 2015, so he’s a quick study who will definitely bring it to the World Class finals.
The top three contestants in Durban were Trace van de Merwe of Harry’s Bar, Wellington Kativhu of The Chairman and Jason Pearson of The Dutch. While none of them made the national cut under the new rules, the local cocktail scene is heating up, and there’s every chance Durbs will be back in the game in 2017.
The national finals, with a R20 000 pot, will be held in the week of 5 July 2016 in Joburg. The winner will compete in the global finals in Miami in September.
To find out more, visit www.worldclasssa.com or follow World Class South Africa on its social media channels with #WorldClass2016.
Catch Leah on Twitter at @leahvandeventer or Instagram on @theveneervandal.
- Leah van Deventer