The vibe at the Alibi Lounge was celebratory—it was a reunion of the beverage industry’s insiders, supporters, and friends. Diageo Reserve brand ambassador Rian Asiddao remains at the centre of World Class, the Diageo-sponsored educational platform, and what is dubbed “the World Cup of Bartending.” This event annually narrows down the roster of local talents until we are left with one to be pitted against the world’s best. The process is tedious, and in the wake of a pandemic that has beaten the industry to a pulp, most of its contenders and organizers are still picking up the pieces. Despite the challenges, Asiddao feels that it is important to hold the World Class competition as it was meant to be, simply because it is just what everybody needs.
“After a full virtual competition last year, we transitioned to a hybrid format this year,” Asiddao explained. “We started it virtually and ended up with two face-to-face challenges. We still want the bartenders to experience the essence of the World Class competition, and all challenges are from the Global World Class.” It remains the biggest bartending program and competition aimed at supporting the trade through training and showcasing skills through competition. “It is also a big opportunity for the bar and bartender to be exposed to different platforms here and abroad,” Asiddao added.
At the finals held in the Crimson Hotel Filinvest City bar, the seven contenders for the Philippines’ Bartender of the Year are tasked with delivering two cocktails—an aperitif and a digestif—utilizing either Johnnie Walker Black Label or Singleton of Dufftown 12. The finalists were: Nikki Laksamana of Baccarat Room & Bar, Solaire Resort & Casino; Abby Leyte of Southbank Cafe & Lounge; Melody Lim of Oasis Garden Cafe, Solaire Resort & Casino; Lovely Enage of Bar 20, Swissotel Clark; Rodney Protacio of Baccarat Room & Bar, Solaire Resort & Casino; Claude Delima of The Spirits Library; and Duane Legaspi of Coconut Grove, Admiral Hotel.