It’s June which means that Diageo’s World Class has a new American winner. Last week, Laura Newman topped a field of 15 bartenders to take home the title of 2018 U.S. Bartender of the Year and earn a ticket to Berlin for the global finals this summer.
“It’s truly an honor to be named the US Best Bartender of the Year and I can’t wait to continue on this journey and represent my country at the Global Finals in Berlin,” said Newman. “This was my third year competing in USBG World Class, and as someone who was once told that I wouldn’t make it in craft cocktails as a female, I want every female bartender out there to take this accomplishment and know that they can do it too.”
The seventh year of World Class began with thousands of applicants who worked their way through regionals until only 15 finalists remained. On June 5 and 6, the remaining group descended upon the famed Stitzel-Weller distillery in Kentucky to compete in five competitions that would determine the champ.
Spirited Storytelling assigned competitors a Diageo “spirit at random for which they had to create a full presentation based on the spirit’s history, raw ingredients, production process and tasting notes.” The Eco-Challenge tasked the bartenders with creating a zero-waste vodka cocktail. Always a World Class Host tested the finalists ability to learn their guests’ tastes and adjust their drinks accordingly. Bulleit, The Next Frontier demanded “futuristic cocktails.” Finally, the Need for Speed segment involved making ten cocktails in ten minutes.
The judging panel consisted of 2017 Global winner Kaitlyn Stewart, 2014 Global winner Charles Joly, past US winners Jeff Bell, Chris Cardone, and industry legends Dale Degroff, Jackson Cannon, and Julie Reiner.
“The level of skill and dedication that we see during this competition is unparalleled, and it’s not only about their bartending skills, because World Class goes far beyond just the challenges that we see,” said Taylor Blades, Director of On Premise for Diageo North America. “Everyone involved in this program walks away with new confidence and a stronger sense of community that inspire them to be the very best they can in their field.”
World Class Global Finals are slated for August.