Kaneko wins World Class

Michito Kaneko from The Lamp Bar in Nara, Japan, was crowned world’s best bartender at the final of Diageo Reserve World Class in Cape Town last month.

It is the second time a Japanese bartender has won the coveted prize since the competition started seven years ago.

Kaneko was one of 54 contenders taking part in four days of challenges presided over by drinks industry authorities.

He said: “This is definitely a turning point in my life. But I must remember that even though I am the World Class champion, I must stay humble and true to myself and what I love.”

In the Cape Town Shakedown challenge the final six bartenders had to create a pop-up bar to reflect their personality and style.

Kaneko looked to his own name for inspiration. Michito means ‘man on the road’, so he incorporated the iconic Striding Man of Johnnie Walker into his theme.

Spike Marchant, World Class judge and global brand ambassador said: “Kaneko produced some wonderful performances throughout this year’s World Class. As a bartending personality he was the personification of Japanese hospitality. His cocktails across all the challenges were subtle, harmonious, and impeccably calibrated. He produced a sustained level of excellence throughout the competition.”

Israel’s Ariel Leizgold finished second, Jack Sotti of Australia was third while Ali Reynolds of the UK finished fourth.

Other top performers were: Jurgen Nobels of Belgium, who won Against the Clock; Kenneth Bandivas of the Philippines took the judges Around the World; Tyson Buhler of the US delivered in Night and Day; Filip Navratil of Slovakia dominated in the Street Food Jam; while Kaneko served up the best drinks in the Future, Retro, Disco challenge.