James Grant wins Diageo World Class 2021

James Grant from Canada has been crowned the 12th winner of Diageo World Class following a first ever virtual event for 2021.

Grant beat 49 other bartenders from around the world over a five-day virtual event which was headquartered in London.

“All the bartenders were incredible and to be chosen as this year’s winner, after the year we’ve all had is unbelievable. When I started my journey in bartending I never thought it would lead me here,” said Grant.

“I was simply inspired by the community and creativity of everyone around me, it was infectious and soon I had fallen in love with the craft and opportunities. It gave me the drive and determination to seek out the best in the business to learn from and that’s what got me here today.”

The finalists were given a variety of challenges throughout the five days such as create a Johnnie Walker Highball, host a masterclass for making a Tanqueray No. Ten cocktail at home, and design a Ketel One vodka cocktail with a positive environmental impact.

The week was rounded off with a special edition ‘Malts’ speed challenge using The Singleton and Talisker, that not only tested the finalists’ efficiency but also the quality and design of their cocktails.

Simon Earley, global head of Diageo World Class, added: “Our first-ever virtual World Class Global Final has been a huge success and has resulted in one the most innovative and creative competitions we have ever seen.

“The judges were blown away by James’ creativity and originality, creating serves that were amazing to experience visually, virtually and in person. They are a fully deserving winner and I’m really excited to start working with them as a World Class ambassador in the year ahead.”

To run the virtual final, a production and broadcast hub was based in a London studio alongside a panel of locally-based judges. The competitors then presented their drinks to the judges live from their own country while an avatar bartender made the drinks for the judges to sample.

Since its launch in 2009, Diageo World Class has supported and trained more than 400,000 bartenders across the globe and remains one of the biggest bartending competitions in the world.