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Diageo World Class 2021 goes virtual

Smirnoff owner Diageo will host this year’s World Class cocktail competition in a digital format for the first time.

Diageo World Class 2019
Diageo last held its World Class cocktail competition in 2019

In December 2020, Diageo said it planned to host the global final of its 2021 World Class competition in Madrid, Spain, instead of Sydney, Australia.

At the time, the firm said it had planned for a number of scenarios, including a fully virtual setting.

Diageo has now confirmed the final will be held completely online from 4 to 8 July. Last year’s competition was cancelled due to Covid-19.

Pedro Mendonça, global reserve director, said: “The last 12 months has thrown a lot at the hospitality industry, but we’ve been determined to shine a light on the innovation, creativity and community spirit within the bartending community and crown a winner no matter what.

“We have been planning for multiple scenarios and wanted to give clarity to everyone taking part by confirming the final format as early as possible.

“During that planning we’ve been blown away by the possibilities of a virtual event and are really excited about bringing these to life in July.”

The five-day event will see 55 country winners streamed live from across the world as they take part in different challenges.

The competition has already confirmed finalists from the US, Canada, Nigeria and the Czech Republic.

Diageo said bartenders will be familiar with competing online by the time the final is held as they would have participated virtually in their own countries during the local heats.

This year’s Diageo World Class will feature events, trend-led panels, masterclasses and augmented reality bars over the five days.

Mendonça added: “Explore a virtual bar of the future, participate in panel discussions, discover city hot-spots for a world-class drink or simply learn how to make amazing cocktails at home – this World Class global finals will be an extraordinary festival experience for everyone, everywhere.”

In February, Diageo launched a series of virtual workshops as part of its World Class Studio programme.

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