World Class Bartender of the Year entries close soon (here’s some last minute advice)

As Kate McGraw says, one drink just might just change your life.

World Class Bartender of the Year entries close soon (here’s some last minute advice)
Eduardo Conde, Kate McGraw, Orlando Marzo, and Kelsey Blacksmith during the Sydney instalment of the Diageo Bar Academy Roadshow. Photo: Supplied
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Entries into World Class Bartender of the Year Australia close Sunday 10 March — enter now at

What’s it take to win World Class? Entries into the Australian round of the global cocktail competition close this weekend, so we’ve got some final words of wisdom — and some sage advice — for bartenders throwing their hat in the ring.

That advice comes from some World Class talent, too. We’ve pulled a couple of quotes from the presentations that Eduardo Conde (World Class Bartender of the Year Australia 2023 winner) and Orlando Marzo (who won the competition globally in 2018) gave during their Diageo Bar Academy Roadshow sessions last month.

Eduardo Conde. Photo: Supplied
Eduardo Conde. Photo: Supplied

“The hospitality that you bring, it’s everything,” says Eduardo.

It’s something that stays with people, he says, and can help you stand out and be memorable to the judges.

Eduardo also stressed that while it’s important to want to win a cocktail competition like World Class, it’s good to keep in mind that it’s also not everything. “Make connections,” Eduardo advises.

“First of all, participate,” says Orlando.

What does it take to win? The first thing you need to do, according to Orlando, is to get involved and enter (which, by the way, you can do right here).

It’s something that World Class Australia ambassador, Kate McGraw, echoed in a previous chat — the best time to enter is now, she said. “The feedback that I get all the time is, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I’m ready for World Class.’ You are ready for World Class, everyone’s ready for World Class.”

The best way to find out whether you’re ready is to get stuck in now, and learn by doing.

Orlando Marzo. Photo: Supplied
Orlando Marzo. Photo: Supplied

“I use technique to heighten the drinking experience,” says Orlando.

When it comes to crafting a drink, Orlando will start with the idea, first and foremost, and only once that inspiration is done does he think about technique. It’s using technique in service of an idea, or a goal — not just employing technique for technique’s sake, or because you think that you need to complicate things.

When it comes to flavour extraction, Orlando offered up a simple rule of thumb (to which there are, of course, always exceptions). If you’re looking to extract flavour from hard ingredients — hard spices, say — you’ll likely need hot extraction methods. If you’re trying to extract lighter, more delicate flavours — from fruits and fresh herbs, say — you’ll want a colder method of extraction.


“The drink is important to a certain extent,” says Eduardo. “Your connection, and what you can transmit to someone, is 10 times more important.”

At this stage of the cocktail revival — we’re more than 20 years in now — it’s not enough to make a great drink. We’re lucky — there’s a lot of great drinks out there. But not everyone can create a meaningful connection with their guests, and that’s what Eduardo looks for most. And, as he says:

“We do this because we love this connection and engagement with people.”

It’s all about the hospitality, right?

Entries into World Class Australia Bartender of the Year 2024 close Sunday 10 March — enter now at