World Class GB Semi-Final narrows the field of competitors to 10 grand finalists
The World Class 2023 GB competitors began their journey back in November last year, when the competition opened for entries. Since then, the field of competitors has steadily narrowed, as various judging phases selected ever smaller groups of bartenders that would progress to the next stage.
First, the initial entries were paper-judged to a Top 100 field. These bartenders were then visited by the World Class team for a phase of in-bar judging that further narrowed the field to 50 semi-finalists. Those 50 bartenders gathered together at Birch, in Cheshunt, for an intensive day of Don Julio Tequila or Chase GB Gin-themed challenges, assessed by a highly experienced panel of judges, at the GB semi-final.
The conclusion of the semi-final brings us ten bartenders who have made it through to the grand final in June, to compete for the title of World Class GB Bartender of the Year, 2023. This year’s Gb final takes place at Johnnie Walker Princes Street, Diageo’s epic new visitor centre which stands 8 floors tall and has a rooftop bar with stunning views of Edinburgh Castle. Details on the tasks will be revealed closer to the time, but there will be two challenges, one by The Singleton and one by Johnnie Walker and will involve a new style of challenge involving 44 judges – keep your eyes peeled!
But before we bring you the list of 10 grand finalists, we first need to congratulate the Challenge Champions. A new addition to World Class this year, ‘Challenge Champions’ were awarded at every stage of the competition to those who impressed the judges with their serves and creativity. These winners were offered a bundle of prizes, including a year of mentorship with the World Class team. The Don Julio semi-final challenge was won by Jack Smith, and Chase GB Gin was won by Eve Green. Great work team, we hope you have a wonderful time experiencing your prizes and mentoring sessions together. Big congratulations also go to Liam Scott who won the ‘Bartenders’ Bartender’ prize. New to the programme this year, this prize is decided and voted on by the Top 50 bartenders and is awarded to the person who has embodied the community spirit of World Class and has gone out of their way to assist fellow competitors, as well as be supportive and positive throughout.
Next Stop… The Grand Final.
World Class challenges bartenders to try new things, improve their skills, and meet and learn from new people. It is an amazing, rewarding experience and being selected to participate at any stage is a huge achievement – a semi-final appearance, alongside a group of the country’s best bartenders, is something to be very proud of, as Jo Last, World Class GB and The Singleton Brand Ambassador, says:
“The World Class semi-finals were a melting pot of everything I love about the hospitality industry. All Top 50 bartenders brought creativity, passion and most importantly comradery to every part of the competition over the three days. To the Top 10, congratulations! I can’t wait to explore all things whisky during the finals at Johnnie Walker Princes Street in June. To the talented bartenders who didn’t make it this year, you blew the judges away with the effort, charisma and sparks of genius you showcased on stage and we can’t wait to see you develop and come back for World Class GB 2024.”
Pippa Guy, World Class GB Brand Ambassador, sums up the spirit of the competition and the excitement felt by bartenders as they progress to the final stage:
“It’s very hard to sum up how incredible the World Class GB Semi Finals were and the feelings I went through on the day. It was one of the most emotional days I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of; watching the level of work the bartenders had put into their drinks, their knowledge, their passion and determination was such a privilege. Announcing the Top 10 both Jo and I were in tears on stage and cannot thank enough the Top 50 for not only their time and effort, but the way they supported each other and channelled positivity throughout what I’m sure was a highly challenging day for them all. My heart felt Congratulations to the Top 10 – I cannot wait to see what they bring together for the WCGB Final at Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh in June and see who goes on to take the title!“
All of which brings us nicely on to the subject of the Top 10 and the Grand Final. Having attended many World Class GB finals in the past, I know it will be an exciting, high-stakes-but-fun event that has the potential to be life changing. What’s more, the eventual winner will go on to be a wonderful representative of Great Britain’s bar community at the World Class Global Finals. We wish all ten competitors the best of luck at the World Class GB final, and can’t wait to see who goes on to be crowned the GB Champ.
The World Class GB 2023 Finalists:
- Josh Linfitt, Ugly Butterfly by Adam Handling
- Alex Taylor, Pennyroyal
- Emanuele Mensah, Lyaness
- Danilo Frigulti, Nomad Hotel
- Jacob Clarke, Couch
- Katie Rouse, Couch
- Holly Bennetts, The Greenbank Hotel
- Tom Fastiggi, Schofields
- Matt Arnold, Passing Fancies
- Ryan Way, Orchid