A look at the trends and numbers from the 2024 World Class Bartender of the Year Australia Top 100

The best 100 bartenders in this year’s instalment are here, as well as some key takeaways from the class of 2024.

A look at the trends and numbers from the 2024 World Class Bartender of the Year Australia Top 100
Eduardo Conde won last year's final. Photo: Supplied/Tom Yau

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Well, it’s that time of year again: the World Class Top 100 bartenders have just been announced (you can see them below), and with it, the opportunity for a look at the state of cocktail bartending right now.

World Class is the kind of cocktail comp that the real pro bartenders — and those aspiring to be a better bartender — want to win and be seen to do well in. It’s now in its 15th year, and its global nature — and illustrious past winners — mean that the competition carries significant weight, and those who win it often talk about how it changed their life.

That history and the regard in which it is held means that the World Class Top 100 is always an illuminating list. For years I’ve looked over the Top 100 to see who has been making the effort to get involved — it’s a quick guide to see who is taking their career seriously, and to get an idea of up and coming bartenders to keep an eye on.

And because the Top 100 bartenders are drawn from across the country, the list is also a good cross section of what is going on in high end cocktails in our bars right now.

Below, we’ve crunched the numbers on this year’s list, and spoken to World Class Australia ambassador Kate McGraw to find out which ingredients and techniques are trending across the Top 100.

Where does the Top 100 come from?
As you might expect given that they are home to the three largest Australian cities by population, the three big eastern states of New South Wales (33 entries on the list), Victoria (19), and Queensland (19) make up the majority, with 71 bartenders from the Top 100 working in those states.

This year’s Top 100 saw Western Australia, Queensland, and Vitoria increase their representation, with increases of 5%, 3%, and 4% respectively.

Although New South Wales still provides the most bartenders on the Top 100, with 33 competitors drawn from the state, that number is down from 43 in 2023.

Which bar had the most bartenders on the Top 100?
Quite a few bars had their bartenders pushing for spots on the Top 100, but one bar had more entries on the list than any other. Sydney bar El Primo Sanchez scored five of the spots on the list, with Melbourne restaurant bar Society picking up four spots.

World Class Bartender of the Year Australia Top 100 final breakdown state by state:

  • ACT 2
  • NSW 33
  • NT 3
  • QLD 19
  • SA 7
  • TAS 4
  • VIC 19
  • WA 13

Which brands do the Top 100 mix with most?

Is this the year that rum fulfils its promise as the next big thing in spirits? The most popular brand across the Top 100 in 2024 might suggest there is hope, with Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 being the most popular choice of hero spirit for the Top 100 bartenders.

Ketel One vodka was the next most popular choice for bartenders to use.

Non-alcoholic drinks continue to have a moment, too, says Kate. “There is a huge lean in to non-alcoholic serves across the country,” she says.

Seedlip was the equal third most popular choice for bartenders on the Top 100 this year, accounting for 16% of the hero spirits in recipes that the Top 100 created.

And gin remains popular, too, also nabbing 17% of the drinks of the Top 100 with Tanqueray No. Ten gin accounting for the bulk of that, with the difference made up by Tanqueray London Dry Gin and Aviation American Gin.

Which flavours are trending?
When it comes to the flavours these bartenders are pairing those spirits with, Kate says that in 2024 there was less of a focus on native Australian ingredients.

“Are native ingredients dead?” she says. “Maybe. We saw a lot more produce inspiration coming from other cultures and countries instead of native Australian stuff.”

Kate also says that if you look at the recipes from the Top 100, you’ll see that fresh juice is back in a big way.

And, as we’ve seen in the Boothby Drink of the Year Awards, the Milk Punch is still a delicious and popular technique with bartenders, according to Kate.

“Milk punches are the king of comps,” she says.