Jake Down is the 2024 World Class Bartender of the Year Australia

The next stop? The global final held in Shanghai this coming September.

Jake Down is the 2024 World Class Bartender of the Year Australia
Jake Down wins. Photo: Dani Braude
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From a top flight Top 6, there could be only one: Jake Down is the World Class Bartender of the Year Australia 2024.

It’s the biggest bartending competition on the global stage, and, as Kate McGraw, World Class Australia ambassador, said last week in this video about the road to the national final, winning World Class Bartender of the Year changes lives.

This year’s national final featured six of the best bartenders from around Australia:

Jake Down, Pleasure Club, Sydney; James Irvine, Merivale, Sydney; Matt Bodycote, State Buildings, Perth; Rohan Massie, Rude Boy, Hobart; Shirley Yeung, Foxtrot Unicorn, Perth; and Tom Opie, The Waratah, Sydney.

The judges for the national final saw 2018 global winner Orlando Marzo and last year's national winner, Eduardo Conde, joined by a guest judge for each challenge: Annita Potter from Viand (NSW chef of the year 2023), Erin Putt (senior brand manager Johnnie Walker), and Natalie Ng (owner of Door Knock. and Now & Then).

Each of the six faced three challenges: the first, taking place this morning, was on Malt Maximalism — “Competitors have to make two drinks that embody this idea of maximalism,” Kate says. “Big, bold, not simplistic.”

The winner of that challenge? None other than Tom Opie.

The second challenge took place in the afternoon, and was possibly the most complex of all three. “The second challenge for the day is Paint The Town Ruby,” Kate says. “This is with the new Johnnie Walker Black Ruby, the newest addition to the Johnnie Walker family. With this challenge, our bartenders are taking us on their ultimate night out. We’re going to at least three venues, three different occasions — up to five — they can choose to do an additional two drinks for bonus points.”

Jake Down impressed the judges with his take on the challenge, and took out the top spot in that round.

Then, after the sun had gone down, over 100 people poured into Harbar at Diageo HQ in Sydney to watch the final challenge: Check On, a speed round that saw each of the Top 6 cup go up against the docket machine.

The winner of this round was Rohan Massie.

The overall winner, announced to rapturous applause, was Jake Down.

And voted by the competitors today in the big pressure final, the winner of the Bartender’s Bartender was the very accomplished James Irvine.

Jake Down will now begin preparing for the next leg of the journey — the road to the global final, held in Shanghai in September.

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