Now on its 7th year, Diageo Reserve World Class Philippines is set to join the World Class Bartender of the Year Competition for 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland, home to some of the biggest distilleries in the world. 

Last year’s champion, Lester Ligon, ranked 6th in the world after he competed at the 2018 Diageo’s World Class Global Finals in Berlin, and also took home the Ketel One Better Drinking Challenge with his Marawi inspired cocktail using sustainable methods that positively impact a community. This win is the highest honor the Philippines got in the seven years of joining the competition, and we’re excited how this year’s contenders will fare. 

Lester Ligon

“I think this year’s line up is impeccable. I’m hoping someone can be better than how I did last year. I have high hopes for them to win the competition,” shares Lester. “At the end of the day, we’re just the embodiment of the entire Philippines, so, as bartenders, we should help each other and bring the A game to the global arena.” 

This year recorded the highest applicants for the Philippine leg, Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador Rian Asiddao received 70 entries which were trimmed down to a final 30 with the help of South East Asia Ambassadors from Thailand, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The 30 finalists were announced last February and battled last March for the first challenge, Science of Smoke, which trimmed down the contenders to 15 finalists with the best presentation and use of smoke as a flavor in a cocktail. 

Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador Rian Asiddao

The second challenge commenced last April 24 at Shangri-La the Fort’s Backroom bar. The 15 bartenders took on the challenge on Tech Tonics highlighting Tanqueray No. TEN as the main spirit. The challenge aimed to get the best bartenders whose cocktails reflect a better understanding of gin and tonics, and highballs. 

The contenders were trimmed down to eight finalists who will battle it out on the final leg. The Peak, Grand Hyatt’s Jacques Michael Buenviaje, and Oto’s Joseph David Abalayan tied as the top contenders for the 2nd leg, followed by Manille Beach Bar’s (El Nido) Larry Guevara placing 2nd place, and Proof’s Abigale Quilal-lan placing third. The final contenders include Loren Cabalde Abreu (Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen), Duane Legaspi (Rambla Salcedo), John Vincent Naive (5ynco Bar), and Angelica Suzzane Castro (Hilton Manila). 

World Class 2019 30 finalists with Rian Asiddao and 2018 champion Lester Ligon

“It’s one of our advocacies to make our (bartending) community bigger,” says Rian. “And it is becoming so, not just in the competition but the entire community is getting bigger and better. For this year, I’m happy that we have participants outside of Manila, we had applicants from El Nido Palawan, Boracay, and Cebu, which is a good sign, maybe next year we will have someone from Mindanao to join.” 

According to Rian competitions are there to help bartenders grow their skills and to showcase and highlight awareness about brands. And Diageo’s most significant advantage is Diageo’s portfolio. “We have a big portfolio that bartenders can play with,” he adds. “We have everything from tequila, Scotch, bourbon, and gin. World Class has been in the industry for 11 years, and it’s one of the few competitions around. It’s dubbed as the World Cup or Olympics of bartending, making it the biggest in the industry. The support that we get from the bartenders is really huge.” 

The last challenge will commence in May with the Single Ingredient challenge—bartenders are required to maximize the use of one main ingredient in creating a sustainable world-class cocktail. 

Lester has advice for the remaining finalists, “Discipline is their refining fire by which talent becomes ability,” he quotes American Clergyman Roy L. Smith. “They should not rely on luck. They have what it takes to become the bartender of the year. They need to give their very best,” Lester quips. “I’ve been joining World Class for the past three years, and I realized is that it’s is not just a competition made for a bartender to win but its an arena for every bartender to win something for themselves. You can gain experience, friendships, and stellar opportunities. The prize is to rise above from being just a normal bartender to that creative, confident, charismatic, and a total world-class bartender that they deserve to be. ” he ends.  

This year’s overall global winner will be awarded the title of Global World Class Bartender of the Year 2019, the prize will include tours with the World Class team hosting events and workshops, a tour of a selection of Diageo-owned distilleries in Scotland, Cocktail Kingdom bar tools and equipment, a guest bartending shift at one of Europe’s best bars and a lot of publicity following their global win. 

For updates and more information about the competition follow @worldclassphilippines on Instagram. 

Load More Related Articles
Load More In Brand News

Check Also

Three Philippine Bars Made it to the Coveted List of Asia’s 50 Best Bar 2019

The fourth edition of annual Asia’s 50 Best Bar commenced last May 9 at Capitol Thea…