Last Thursday saw the city’s top bartenders compete in the World Class Johannesburg Regional Finals at Van de Linde restaurant in Linden.
Now in more than 60 countries, the World Class Bartender of the Year competition brings together the globe’s best talent to decide who will be crowned the ultimate bartender.
Regional winners have been selected in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, and Evert De Jong from Molecular Bar was crowned the Johannesburg winner.
De Jong will now compete in another round with nine other bartenders to find a South African winner, and that person will go to Berlin in Germany later this year to compete in the global competition.
The judges of the competition were Dominic Walsh, who won the South African leg of the competition in 2016, Julian Short, who won in 2017, and bartender and World Class Ambassador Haroon Haffajee.
World Class is considered the World Cup of bartending, according to Walsh.
Bartenders took part in two rounds, with the first requiring a drink that uses Tanqueray 10 gin, and the second Don Julio Reposado tequila.
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“My first cocktail was inspired by my grandmother,” De Jong told us. “It consisted of Tanqueray 10, house-made apple cider to play to the botanicals in the gin, orange blossom syrup, full cream whipping cream and cellulose [a plant based vegan substitute for egg white]. I then blended the drink and topped it with a fresh beetroot soda, some salt and pepper, and beetroot chips.
“Winning was an unreal experience. Having your name announced as the winner of a region is always an amazing experience. It kind of knocks you. You’re extremely excited.”
This will be the second time De Jong will compete in the national finals, which take place from June 25 to 27 in Cape Town.
“The level of competitiveness and the level of drinks at the nationals is large. It’s always an amazing experience and is unbelievably challenging.
“It’s one of those weeks when you sleep two hours a night because you’re just so busy preparing for the competition.”