In a thrilling display of mixology mastery, Nguyễn Tuấn Anh, founder bartender at USE Bar in Hanoi, emerged as the deserving recipient of the title World Class Bartender of the Year 2023 for Vietnam. The visionary bartender with an insatiable thirst for innovation is set to represent Vietnam at the prestigious World Class Global event, slated to take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in September.
Amidst the buzz of clinking glasses and the aromatic symphony of ingredients, Tuấn Anh found himself captivated by the Don Julio Challenge. The task was formidable—crafting four exquisite cocktails in a mere five minutes, each with its distinct personality. It was a test of his mettle, a chance to showcase his creativity under pressure.
“All challenges were exciting as I absolutely love cocktails,” Tuấn Anh told Vietcetera. “I dedicated all my time to the work, but the Don Julio Challenge intrigued me the most. The task was to make four cocktails in five minutes in two different versions. It was highly engaging!”
He added there was “no specific winning drink.” But, his family and career aspirations were the driving forces behind his determination to emerge victorious. Tuấn Anh understands the significance of his upcoming journey to Brazil and the opportunity to represent Vietnam on the global stage. He recognizes the need to continue learning and gaining valuable experience to further enhance his skills. The young bartender is committed to proudly showcasing Vietnam's bartending excellence and making his country proud in the international arena.
This victory holds tremendous significance for Tuấn Anh, as he describes it as “a life-changing milestone, opening up a world of new opportunities.” He holds a deep appreciation for the honor of becoming this year's champion and is determined to make Vietnam even prouder on the international stage. Beyond accolades, Tuấn Anh recognizes the personal growth that comes with this achievement, cherishing the chance to further develop his skills and expertise. His journey serves as an inspiration to all, reminding us that success lies not only in the pursuit of excellence but also in the continuous exploration and realization of our potential.
After an exciting two-day event at Qui Lounge in Saigon, the final round of the highly anticipated Diageo World Class Vietnam Bartender Competition 2023 unfolded. The atmosphere was filled with tension as the bartenders faced a series of demanding challenges that tested their skills and creativity. The competition featured a range of exciting tasks, including the Tanqueray No.TEN Balanced Botanicals Challenge, the Johnnie Walker Signature Smoke Challenge, the Don Julio Pour Amor Challenge, and a thrilling Showdown Challenge for the top 8 contestants.
The competition, created by Diageo, a leading force in the beverage industry, holds immense significance in the world of bartending. Diageo is driving the artistry and innovation that define the World Class competition. Through their unwavering commitment, Diageo empowers talented individuals to showcase their skills, gain recognition, and make a lasting impact on the industry.
Diageo World Class Vietnam 2023 Top 8
• Vy Hoang Gia Bao - SIIXSEN Cocktail & Clubbing, Pleiku City
• Nguyen Le Hoai Thong - ENIGMA, HCMC
• Yen Dang - Cọ Cocktail Bar, HCMC
• Nguyen Tuan Anh - USE Bar, Hanoi
• Nguyen Thi My Loan - ENIGMA, HCMC
• Le Nguyen Phuc- FIREWORKS - Dining and Bar, HCMC
• Nguyen Huynh Xuan Thy - Fox's Den, Da Lat
• Nguyen Cong Truyen - STIR - Modern Classic Cocktail, HCMC
What makes a World Class bartender?
In the ultimate showdown of the Diageo World Class Bartender Competition, the atmosphere intensifies as bartenders go head-to-head, pouring their passion into every drink they create. It's a fast-paced battle that leaves no room for hesitation, where each cocktail becomes a narrative, a reflection of the creator's distinctive personality and style. As the winners of the individual challenges are announced, their exceptional techniques, recipes, and ability to captivate the judges' palates are brought into the spotlight.
Behind the scenes, a panel of esteemed judges, comprised of industry experts and acclaimed mixologists, takes on the crucial task of evaluating the bartenders' performances. Drawing from their wealth of knowledge and experience, they offer valuable insights and feedback, ultimately determining the champions. Let's take a moment to hear from some of these award-winning judges, gaining a glimpse into their perspectives on the competition.
Kaitlyn Stewart, the 2017 World Class Global Winner, fondly reminisced about her first visit to Vietnam for the competition. She marveled at the warm hospitality and the genuine love for the art of bartending that permeated the event. The world-renowned bartender was delighted to see young and fresh faces new to bartending as well as familiar faces helping them along the way because, to her, “World Class is more than a competition; it’s a community.”
The Canadian bartender also emphasized the significance of the connections forged during the competition, as they hold a special place in the challenging and fiercely competitive environment. She encouraged all participants to persist in their pursuit of greatness, even in the face of the inevitable reality that only one can emerge as the ultimate winner.
Providing a unique perspective as a non-bartender judge, Tryson Quek, a Singaporean chef, shared his discerning criteria for assessing the cocktails. He emphasized the importance of “taste, balance, and a deep understanding of the intended audience.”
Tryson lauded the extraordinary creation by Nguyen Thi My Loan of ENIGMA, noting her exceptional storytelling skills and masterful use of local ingredients showcasing her personality and cultural influences.
Bannie Kang, another esteemed judge, shone a spotlight on the bartenders' personalities, cleanliness, and knowledge as essential factors in her evaluations. She also recalled an unforgettable cocktail that left a lasting impression—a masterpiece that ingeniously utilized every part of the pomelo, from the skin to the juice.
Bannie, the 2019 World Class Global Winner and 2021 Asia 50 Bartender of the Year, underscored that World Class goes beyond searching for outstanding cocktails; it's about discovering the best bartenders. The competition inspires participants to step outside their comfort zones, sparking creativity and creating extraordinary experiences for their guests.
Award-winning mixologist, Antonio Lai, emphasized the importance of patience, knowledge, experience, and confidence in the art of bartending. These qualities, combined with the ability to explain the story behind each cocktail, are crucial for a bartender's success. Antonio encourages aspiring bartenders to practice relentlessly, honing their skills and refining their techniques.
The pomelo cocktail also caught the World Class Hong Kong & Macau Winner and Executive Mixologist at Tasting Group Limited's attention, highlighting the creativity and craftsmanship that World Class participants bring to the table.
Equally important is the community-building aspect of World Class competition. Just like what Kaitlyn said, “It’s a community.” It provides a platform for bartenders to come together, exchange ideas, and foster a network of like-minded professionals.
The World Class ‘spirit’
Not only the judges but the whole room full of people who care about fine drinking would agree that the Diageo World Class Bartender Competition is not your typical showdown of skills; it is a gathering of kindred spirits, a community united by their shared love for the art of mixology.
As the competition unfolded, a spirited camaraderie ignited among the bartenders, each fueled by a burning passion to create the perfect cocktail. The spirit of collaboration transcends the competition itself, permeating the industry at large. Bartenders celebrate one another's achievements and support each other's growth, creating an ecosystem where collective success is celebrated.
The only non-bartender judge, Tryson, recognizes the immense importance of the Diageo World Class Bartender Competition in nurturing talents in the industry. And not only that, the World Class competition plays a vital role in pushing the boundaries of what bartenders can achieve.
The impact of the Diageo World Class Bartender Competition extends far beyond individual performances. It acts as a catalyst, fueling innovation and driving bartenders to continually elevate their craft by exploring new flavor profiles and pushing the boundaries of mixology. Serving as a global stage, the competition unveils emerging trends, techniques, and ingredients that shape the future of the industry.
The Diageo World Class Bartender Competition represents the epitome of bartending excellence. It celebrates the fusion of skill, artistry, and innovation within the industry while fostering a sense of camaraderie and a drive for constant improvement. As the competition continues to evolve, it remains a beacon of inspiration. This platform propels bartenders to new heights and ensures the continued advancement of mixology on a global scale.
With the title of Vietnam's World Class Bartender of the Year in hand, Nguyen Tuấn Anh imparts a valuable message to aspiring bartenders: “Just be yourself. Try to understand yourself better to identify your strengths and use them in the competition because everyone has their unique strengths.”