Joshua Hendricks got the chance of a lifetime when he went to Australia last month to represent South Africa at the Diageo Global World Class Bartender of the Year 2022 competition.
The three-day event was held in Sydney and was put on by the Diageo Bar Academy. 50 finalists from all over the world competed in challenges based on the latest trends in the industry.
The Diageo Bar Academy has been implemented in South Africa and provides bartenders with international training and a global networking hub that helps enhance their careers.
Hendricks was one of the youngest professionals to compete in the event, and he is satisfied with his performance in the World Class final.
“I competed in two of the three days of the event. It is high pressure, with not much time to impress the judges. We are given briefs which incorporate elements such as taste, flavour, a back story, and you have to incorporate these into a creative cocktail while impressing the judges with your technique and entertainment flair,” Hendricks said.
The talented bartender took along his own sous vide machine so he could create better flavours in the limited time given to prepare the base ingredients required for cocktails.
The spirits used included Tanqueray, Singleton 12, Johnnie Walker Black and Don Julio. One of the challenges included making a sangrita, which is a Mexican non-alcoholic palate cleanser that is traditionally sipped with tequila.
“One challenge asked you to show your craft in a love letter expressed as a cocktail, while another requested us to pay tribute to the land. For this one, I made a Mexican serve in a Karoo clay vessel which also pays homage to South Africa’s Karoo Agave.”
South African bartenders enjoy foraging for local botanicals such as fynbos, but as these fell on Australia’s prohibited list, Hendricks did feel somewhat restricted.
“When you’re surrounded by bartenders that you’ve previously only seen online and in videos, you do feel quite star-struck on stage, and I struggled to focus my mind, but it was my first global competition and I learnt a lot, so it what I’m taking from the experience. Australia’s bar industry is way ahead of South Africa’s – it was the best hospitality I’ve ever experienced, and my visit has changed the way I am bartending at Fable now. Attention to detail is key.”
One of the aims of the competition is for bartenders to give back to their local community. Hendricks has partnered with UBU, an organisation that assists underprivileged communities to insulate homes with sandbags.
“I created a cocktail called The Turning Point, which uses Ketal One vodka and a strawberry-rooibos shrub served over ice.” The cocktail is sold in selected venues around the country to raise funds for UBU’s endeavours.
Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador, Bradley Jacobs, said World Class offered cocktail enthusiasts an opportunity to test themselves.
“They join a community of industry professionals and ultimately, as Josh has shown, become a better bartender,” said Jacobs.
The Diageo World Class Global Bartender of the Year 2022 was awarded to Norwegian bartender Adrián Michalčík.