For the last five years, Filipino bartenders have competed on the world stage for the Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year Competition. In 2015, Philippine champion Kenneth Bandivas (ABV) was named the winner of the “Around the World” challenge during the global finals with his Ampalaya Marula and Zacapa cocktail. Last year’s contender Michael Tubiera (Rambla) brought a taste of the Philippines to the global stage with flavors like lechon, pinikpikan, and green papaya atchara.

Read more about Michael Tubiera

This year’s Philippine champion is 12/10’s Royce Pua. In a few hours, he will compete against the world’s best bartenders in Mexico for the World Class Bartender of the Year Competition.

Watch the live stream telecast of the Mexico Diageo Reserve World Class 2017 Global Final

This year’s Philippine leg consisted of four challenges: the Love Scotch Challenge (create a cocktail using your favorite Diageo Scotch), the Speed Challenge with Tanqueray, the Bulleit Bourbon Cocktail Creation, and the final mystery challenge, where the final four finalists created cocktails on the spot with two surprise ingredients, Giffard syrups and Don Julio tequila.

Royce’s cocktail for Love Scotch Challenge, Brandon Roy using Talisker 10 Scotch
Royce’s Bulleit Bourbon Challenge cocktail, The Border, made with Bulleit Bourbon, dry vermouth, sweet corn purée, cream, firewater, and cornflakes

There were 23 bartender hopefuls who joined the competition. Royce stood out with consistently high scores from all the judges in all the challenges. It was the last mystery challenge that won him the championship title.

Untitled cocktail that Royce presented for the mystery challenge using Giffard orgeat syrup, Don Julio tequila, with grapes and rosemary
Royce Pua during the Philippine leg finals
2017 Diageo World Class Philippines Final Challenge judges – former department manager at Europ Continents Philippines, Inc. Julien Agosta, Diageo Philippines General Manager Vanee Gosiengfiao, Sweet Liberty owner and bartender John Lermayer, DrinkManila’s editor-in-chief Tatum Ancheta, NYC Maharlika and Jeepney mixologist and the co-owner Enzo Lim, and Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador Rian Asiddao
Vanee Gosiengfiao, Uma Uma’s Shinichi Itoh, Rian Assidao, 12/10’s Royce Pua, last year’s World Class PH Champion Michael Tubiera, Curator’s Faye Fernando, and ABV’s Lester Ligon

Bartenders in competitions usually bring their A game behind the bar with gimmicks, flair, scripted spiels, and exaggerated garnishes. Many dress up in suspenders, bow ties, crisp tailored polo shirts, and leather or denim aprons. In contrast, Royce’s bartending style is pared down and direct. He wears a plain white shirt with a 12/10 logo on the back and his explanations for his drinks are short and straightforward. What sets Royce apart from all the bartenders is his refined palate. The presentation of his drinks is simple because the flavors speak for themselves. Mystery ingredient challenges will dominate the global finals, and Royce’s knack for creating impromptu craft cocktails may wow the World Class global judges in Mexico.

Royce Pua during the Speed Challenge with Tanqueray

Read about  Diageo World Class 2017 1st Challenge: Love Scotch Flavor Pairing

Pink Skies: tequila, dry vermouth, rose, salt water
Green Crack: gin, mescal, Remy Cointreau, Blanc Vermouth, cucumber, lime, shiso
Skyline, the cocktail that Royce plans to make in Mexico. It is a twist on the classic Aviation substituting Luxardo with Aperol topped with pop rocks.

In Mexico, global finalists will prepare for the Mex-Eco challenge to showcase their approach to sustainability within the drinks industry. The second challenge is to create a modern classic cocktail inspired by the place they work in and the people they work with. For the last two challenges, bartenders will compete in two mystery ingredient legs: Heat of the Moment, where the bartenders are tasked to create “cocktail a la minute” with a range of undisclosed ingredients and culinary techniques; and Cocktails at Home, where contenders will present their own version of the Bloody Mary using influences from their home country and create another cocktail in front of the judges using only the ingredients and glassware available at the bar. Competitors who pass these four challenges will instantly get into the final 10 for the La Lucha de Los 10 challenge and take on a speed challenge. The final four will compete for one final leg that will determine the 2017 World Class Bartender of the Year.

For updates on Mexico Diageo Reserve World Class 2017 Global Finals visit

Photos by Star Sabroso is your learned drinking buddy who can tell you what to drink, what you’re drinking and where to drink. Learn about the coolest and the latest bars in the metro, or the newest beverage or new product out in the market, or have fun creating enjoyable drinks from our features and videos within the comfort of your homes.

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