This week, Jack Sotti, of Melbourne’s Eau-De-Vie (and soon to be at Boilermaker House), became Australia’s Bartender of the Year at the Diageo Reserve World Class Australian finals. His win, at Strickland House, will see him head to South Africa for the Diageo Reserve World Class global finals in Cape Town later this year.

From a field of 25 finalists representing venues around the country, Sotti emerged victorious after a series of bar tending challenges, which were judged by a panel that included Matt Preston, global whisky experts Stuart McCluskey and Dave Broom, as well as previous World Class winners Philips, Ashton and Ainsbury. The five challenges set were The Beauty of Blends (blending a whisky drink), The Veggie Revival (innovative use of vegetables in cocktails), Against the Clock (a time challenge to create three cocktails in under five minutes), The Welcome Drink (a low-alcohol creation) and World Class in a Cocktail (a drink encapsulating each finalists’ World Class experience).

Winners of each challenge were Thalita Alves (The Gresham, Brisbane), Rowan Furlong (Victoria Room, Sydney), Pez Collier (Lychee Lounge, Brisbane), Jenna Hemsworth (Lui Bar at Vue de Monde, Melbourne) and Sasha Leonard (Double Happiness, Melbourne).

As well as representing Australia at the global Diageo Reserve World Class finals, Sotti has won a round-the-world trip to explore 80 bars, including McCluskey’s The Bon Vivant in Edinburgh.