Anna’s Class

Following a year-long journey of challenges and qualifiers, Cork native Anna Walsh from Dublin's MVP bar was announced as the winner of Diageo’s World Class Irish Bartender of the Year 2015 at No 10 Ormond Quay in Dublin’s city centre last night.

Anna, the only female finalist, will now go on to represent Ireland at the World Class Global Final in South Africa in August. From Cobh, Anna was born into an extremely creative family where she was encouraged to unleash her imagination. Her drinks are often inspired by childhood memories and flavours and she’s competed at global level before.

Judging heats and technique improvement classes took place in September and March during which 120 applicants were mixed down to just 10 in each of Phases One and Two. From this, the final six (three from each Phase) were selected.

The other five finalists comprised: Meath native Adam Walsh from Soder & Ko in Dublin; Shane Nolan of SoHo in Cork (originally from Dublin); Clondalkin-born Darren Gerraghty representing The Candlelight Bar in Dundrum, Dublin; the Banner County’s Ken Herlihy, Bar Manager in House, Dublin and Mark Gil R Velasquez of The Merchant Hotel, Belfast, originally from Manilla in the Philippines who moved with his family to Belfast in 2008.

Last night the six finalists were put to the test, challenged on all aspects of bartending and judged by some of the most revered names in the industry including Spike Marchant, Tom Jones and Max La Rocca for the final itself. Chef and food writer Gizzi Erskine was also on hand to put the contestants through their paces and judge them on their creativity, ability to balance flavours and presentation skills.

This competition celebrates contemporary cocktail culture, showcasing the Diageo Reserve portfolio of luxury spirits including Ketel One, Cîroc, Zacapa 23, Tanqueray, Tanqueray No 10, Bulleit, Don Julio and Johnnie Walker.

“This competition combines heritage with cutting-edge innovation,” stated David Smith, Country Director of Diageo Ireland, speaking at the event.

He continued, “The other thing that World Class is doing alongside everyone in this room today is making a difference in the fine drinking experience and cocktail culture around the world.”

He also thanked Diageo’s trade partners for supporting the Reserve portfolio since the launch of the competition last Summer. Throughout this time, the competition has been compared by Diageo’s World Class Ambassador Peter O’Connor.

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