Melbourne bartender Orlando Marzo has won the title of Diageo WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year 2018.
Announced at a ceremony last night in Berlin, Germany, Marzo beat out 55 of the world’s bartending elite to take out the highly coveted top spot.
Scotch Category Director and Managing Director Reserve, Cristina Diezhandino, said this year was particularly significant as the competition celebrated its 10th anniversary.
“2018 is a super special year as it marks out 10th anniversary. 10 years ago, a group of passionate people got together and put together a bartender competition in London. The venue was a bit more humble than this, but the passion, the know-how and the skill was exactly comparable. Since then, we’ve gone from strength to strength. If we can achieve all of this in 10 years, I can only imagine what can happen in the next 10.”
Marzo came out on top after competing against the finalists in a series of challenges that pushed their cocktail crafting skills to the absolute limit.
The first such challenge was the Ketel One Better Drinking Challenge, which saw the bartenders re-create a signature Ketel One cocktail showcasing seasonal ingredients and sustainable practice. Manila’s Lester Ligon won the challenge with his cocktail that demonstrated how sustainable methods positively impact a community.
Next came the Johnnie Walker Flavours of a Nation Challenge. In this round, competitors were divided into groups of 10 to present a highball and a bespoke cocktail before the judges and a live audience. Both the cocktails had to be inspired by the distinct flavours of Johnnie Walker Black Label and reflect the heart and soul of the competitor’s home nation. Denmark’s Michael Hajiyianni was awarded the trophy for this challenge.
The Ron Zacapa Before and After Challenge came next. Here, the bartenders were required to produce two cocktails: one aperitif and one digestif. The cocktails needed to showcase the incredible versatility of Ron Zacapa premium rum. Orlando Marzo came out as the winner in this category.
The Australian contender also took out the category trophy for the Tanqueray Search for a Signature Challenge, that saw the bartenders create a potential new Tanqueray No. 10 signature serve that highlighted the spirit’s grapefruit heart. This put him in good stead for his overall WORLD CLASS 2018 win.
Finally, American Laura Newman took out the intense Cocktail Clash ’18 Challenge. This three stage challenge consisted of a re-mixology round, where the bartenders were required to create drinks on the spot; a speed round, where six or more drinks had to be created in just five minutes; and a battle round, where the top four strived to out-do each other using their own ‘secret weapons’.