Over the past week, Kaitlyn has seen off challenges which tested every single skill that makes a bartender truly great. She battled it out in the Lucha Libre ring, going head-to-head with her opponents to create her best classic cocktail. She survived the fire of the Heat of the Moment challenge as she showed how to break boundaries in cocktail making by incorporating the best of culinary techniques. And as global environmental awareness rises, she took on the Mex ECO challenge to show how bartenders can look for new ways to create the ultimate green cocktail.
Guests at the WORLD CLASS competition witnessed the pinnacle of bartending creations, the setting of new trends, and the parameters of cocktail making pushed further than ever before. While all the WORLD CLASS Finalists were outstanding, Kaitlyn truly stood out as the best of the best, able to master the Diageo Reserve luxury portfolio to create ground-breaking results.
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 together in Mexico City on Sunday 20th August. On Wednesday 23rd August, after going to head-to-head with their competitors in the Lucha Libre ring, an elite four made it through to the final round, designed to test them on their knowledge, creativity and mastery of the classics and signature serves.
Kaitlyn is set for a year of adventure – they will have the chance to travel the world as a Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador, making bespoke 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 Stewart, the 2017 WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year, said: “I’m so incredibly amazed and shocked to have been named the world’s best bartender. It’s been a grueling 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."
Diageo Reserve’s Global Cocktalian and WORLD CLASS Judge, Lauren Mote, also had the following to say: “Wow. Wow. Wow. What an incredible week! As judges we’ve seen everything, from six foot high flames to ingredients brought together in ways I’ve never seen before.”
Speaking about the competition winner, Lauren said: “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. Speaking about the trends, 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 bar 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. It’s going to be an exciting year!
World Class will celebrate its 10th anniversary in Berlin, one of the world’s most dynamic cultural hotspots. “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 a 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,” commented Johanna Dalley, World Class Director.