Orlando Marzo was crowned the tenth ever winner in Diageo’s World Class 2018 competition in Berlin last night.
The bartender, who is from Italy and currently works at Lûmé in Melbourne, Australia, saw off 55 finalists from around the globe in a tough four days of competition, which culminated in a four-way showdown between Marzo, Daniel Warren for the UK, Laura Newman for the US, and Turkey’s Gökhan Kuşoğlu on the final day.
In a glittering night hosted by presenter Reggie Yates and Diageo World Class global ambassador Spike Marchant, the awesome foursome faced off in a ‘Cocktail Clash’ that involved them making a drink with a randomly chosen spirit from the Diageo portfolio; racing through a speed round; and presenting another drink using surprising elements. It also saw previous World Class winners Charles Joly and Erik Lorincz respectively dressed as a cowboy and a frankly terrifying clown for two of the presentations. Truly bizarre.
UK representative Warren put on a top-class performance, with slick presentations and an impressive 10 drinks made in the five-minute speed round, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough to bring the crown home.
‘All the finalists brought their A game, but Orlando really was on another level,’ said Diageo global cocktailian Lauren Mote. ‘The Zacapa aperitif he made for the ‘Before and After’ challenge was one of the best I’ve ever tasted and the way he held his nerve in the ‘Cocktail Clash’ finale – for me, that’s the mark of a truly world-class bartender.’
We were able to grab some time with Marzo straight after the announcement, while he was still suitably shell-shocked.
‘It’s incredible! At the moment it feels unreal, but if I look back and think about how much work and time I put into it, I couldn’t be prouder. I really wanted to be here,’ he said.
‘We’ve all been really inspired by the previous figures of this industry, they’ve really opened the path for us and I really wanted to be part of this family. I don’t believe I’m the best bartender in the world, but I really pushed myself.’
Marzo will now have the chance to travel the world as a Diageo representative for the next year.
‘I think World Class, it’s the golden glove of the bar world, it’s about producing long-lasting experiences. I really want to take direction from the people who are very wise and have done this before,’ he mused.
This year, 10,000 bartenders entered the competition from across the world. With this in mind, what advice did Marzo have for anyone considering next year’s competition?
‘You can win with true love, professionalism and dedication. You should be very hard on yourself; be respectful of others, and have a charming Italian accent!
‘It’s not just about creating the best drink, it’s about creating a good drink, being a great host, having charisma, listening and caring for others.
‘It doesn’t take long for a great bartender to make a very good drink, but how do you get an outstanding drink? Sometimes it takes time just to tweak that one per cent that will make the difference.’