Mark your calendars: the annual World Class Cocktail Week is back for another run of parties, pairings, tastings and masterclasses, led by Melbourne’s best bartenders.

Between May 7 and 13, more than 40 cocktail-focused events will be held across Melbourne. Highlights include choosing a cocktail and letting the chef surprise you with a matching five-course degustation at Hochi Mama; learning how to make drinks using native Australian ingredients from World Class bartender Sebastian Costello and the “Outback Chef” Jude Mayall at Bad Fankie; and an interstate bartender swap between Melbourne's Black Pearl and Sydney's Bulletin Place.

World Class bartender Chris Hysted of Black Pearl says the team is doing a two-night bartender swap with two from Sydney’s Bulletin Place. The venues have long had a close bond – Bulletin Place’s founders, Adi Ruiz, Tim Phillips and Robb Sloan, became friends while working at Black Pearl and have retained that sense of comradery in their staff.

“We’re rapt,” says Hysted. “This will be the first time it’s happened, so we’re happy to make the most of it. We’re a really tight family with Bulletin Place. The staff have all come from Black Pearl, and we’ve always had a really beautiful relationship.”

Last year, 127 World Class Cocktail Week events took place nationwide, across three consecutive weeks. This year – in its biggest showing yet – the event is running for the same week in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, starting on May 7 and finishing on World Cocktail Day, May 13.

The program runs in the lead-up to the annual international World Class Bartender of the Year competition, where the world’s best compete for the title for 2017. The global final will be held in Mexico City later this year.

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Closer to home, Hysted says the week isn’t just for experts and enthusiasts, it’s designed to open up the world of cocktails to all.

“There’s something there for everyone, whether it’s a chat about good gin and tonic, or something nerdier like experimental whiskies,” he says. “It doesn’t exclude people based on what they drink currently, and it’s great if you want to change things up or take the blinkers off a little.”

This article was produced by Broadsheet in partnership with World Class. See the full program for World Class Cocktail Week.