Cal Byrne from The Blind Pig has been crowned Diageo Reserve’s World Class Bartender of the Year 2021 Ireland at the National Final.

Cal will go on to represent Ireland at the fully virtual World Class Bartender of the Year Global Finals in Madrid this July, competing with over 55 bartenders from across the world.

The World Class Ireland 2021 Final took place at the Vision X Studio in Dublin where five finalists took part across two challenges. The finalists were first challenged with creating 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, whereby each bartender attempted to make six classic cocktails in six minutes. The challenge aims to test the efficiency and precision of each contestant, giving them the opportunity to showcase the skills acquired from working in busy cocktail bars.

The competition welcomed Emmy Pip Knight from Ohana Tiki Bar, Ali Hayes from the Exchequer Bar, Ken Herlihy from House and Fergus O’Leary from The Mayson Hotel with Cal Byrne of The Blind Pig claiming the title.

Cal Byrne said: “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”.

Nial Molloy, World Class Ireland Lead, said: “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.”

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