Cal Byrne of Dublin venue The Blind Pig has been named Diageo Reserve's World Class Bartender of the Year 2021 Ireland.
Byrne received the title at The World Class Ireland 2021 Final, which took place at the Vision X Studio in Dublin.
During The World Class Ireland 2021 Final, five finalists battled it out in two challenges.
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The finalists were first challenged to create a whiskey tiki cocktail, using brands such as Bulleit Bourbon, Roe & Co Irish Whiskey and Talisker 10-Year-Old Scotch Whiskey, which took inspiration from the tropical regions of the South Pacific. This was followed by The Spanish Showdown speed challenge, during which each bartender attempted to make six classic cocktails in six minutes. The aim of this challenge was to test the efficiency and precision of each contestant, and give them the opportunity to showcase the skills that they have acquired from working in busy cocktail bars.
Each finalist went through a rigorous process. They were selected by an initial world class expert panel that reviewed over 60 entrants. The panel subsequently selected its top 12 candidates, and the five finalists were chosen from those 12 candidates following two separate challenges to test the initial 12 selected candidates' capabilities.
Byrne's fellow finalists were Emmy Pip Knight of Ohana Tiki Bar, Dublin, Ali Hayes of The Exchequer Bar, Dublin, Ken Herlihy of House, Dublin, and Fergus O'Leary of The Mayson Hotel, Dublin.
Byrne's winning whiskey tiki cocktail on giant's shoulders consisted of Roe & Co Irish Whiskey, Bunratty Honey Mead, Purple Tiger Juice, acid adjusted apple juice, malted barley honey, Pippets Primrose Tincture and hedgerow bitters.
Byrne will now go on to represent Ireland at the fully virtual World Class Bartender of the Year Global Finals in Madrid in July. He will compete virtually from Ireland against over 55 bartenders from across the world at the global finals event.
Byrne stated, "The World Class competition celebrates cocktail culture across the globe and shines a light on the creativity and skill involved in cocktail creation. After what has been an extremely challenging year for the hospitality sector, I'm honoured to be flying the flag for bartenders across the country as I represent Ireland on the global World Class stage."
Fully Virtual Broadcast
The World Class Ireland 2021 partnered with Nial Molloy Consultancy and Catapult to bring the competition to life with a fully virtual broadcast. The event was broadcast live from the Vision X Studio in Dublin, with fellow bartenders, family, friends and media tuning in virtually to cheer the five finalists on.
World Class Ireland Lead Statement
World Class Ireland Lead Niall Molloy commented, "We were delighted to run the World Class programme this year even whilst our trade is on hold. Ireland has always represented itself very well at the global finals, and the role of national winner can be game-changing for them. It was interesting to move the programme online and was thankfully well-received by both the competitors and audiences at each stage. We were all in awe of some of the skills and talent on show last night - it really showcases the professionalism and skill level that Ireland has to offer. We can’t wait to see what they do at the global final, which is fully virtual this year and brings a world of new challenges to the fore."
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