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World Class Australia is back, and the Diageo Bar Academy Roadshow is here to get you prepared for a big bar career. The Roadshow sessions are on Monday 29th January in Sydney, Tuesday 30th in Brisbane, in Melbourne on Monday 5th of February, and on the 6th in Perth, when there will be a live stream as well. But first you’ll want to enter your details here to register for the Diageo Bar Academy Newsletter, and be the first to know when the first challenge is announced on February 12.
It doesn’t feel like it was too long ago that I spoke to Eduardo Conde, fresh from his national final victory at World Class Australia in 2023.
If you’ve met Eduardo or had the pleasure of being served by him, you’ll understand what took him to the top of last year’s competition and on to represent Australia at the global finals in Brazil. And it’s not just his ability to make a delicious drink.
Eduardo is a total bartender: yes he can make the drinks, and he’s creative, but he is first and foremost a great host — someone who makes you feel welcome. It’s something easy to describe — it’s just hospitality, right? — but much harder to do.
On this week’s episode of Drinks At Work, I talk to Eduardo and World Class Ambassador for Australia, Kate McGraw, about how Eduardo’s attention to detail and embodiment of hospitality were his greatest assets in his quest to win World Class Australia last year.
Eduardo also shares some advice for anyone wanting to enter cocktail competitions in general and World Class Australia in particular, and Kate talks about what’s different this year, and why they’re using the Diageo Bar Academy Roadshow to showcase the skills you need to enter World Class, with seminars not just from Kate and Eduardo but also former World Class global winner (and friend of Boothby) Orlando Marzo.
“You make out of the competition what you want to make out of it.”
It’s not just the winner of World Class Australia who gets something out of entering the competition, as Eduardo and Kate talk about in this episode. Eduardo entered more than once, making the Top 100 on his first effort, but going through each round and getting better over the years. And as I say during the chat, making the Top 100 itself is something of a calling card for a bartender — it’s a list of bartenders I consult each year, a handy guide to see who is taking their career seriously, who is wanting to achieve, and to get an idea of up and coming bartenders to keep an eye out for.
“The drink is important. The aesthetics of the drink is important. In the end... people will remember the experience more.”
If you were to put together a roster with each World Class Australia winner on there, not only will you have a baker’s dozen of quality cocktails, you’ll also have a team of bartenders dedicated to service and the guest experience. That’s what Kate and Eduardo express in the chat and want to communicate through the Diageo Bar Academy Roadshow. And having judged more cocktail competitions than I can remember, one thing they all have in common is this: every winner across a range of competitions and structures is more than a one tool player. They’ve become complete bartenders, and more often than not I’ll remember the experience of being served by them, not the recipe for the drink.
“Start from flavours that you know.”
It’s the old advice for writers: write what you know. And I think it’s good advice for bartenders, whether they’re wanting to enter cocktail competitions, get their first drinks on the menu at the bar, or just trying to flex their creative muscle. Begin with the flavours you know, start with stories that mean something to you most of all. If it means something to you, if you like it, there’s a good chance someone else is going to be keen.
Enter your details here to register for the Diageo Bar Academy Newsletter, and be the first to know when the first challenge is announced on February 12.