News from the grape vine: Eduardo Conde from El Primo Sanchez has been crowned 2023 Diageo World Class Australian Bartender of the Year.

Eduardo Conde | Diageo World Class Australian Bartender of the Year 2023
(c) Eduardo Conde | Diageo World Class Australian Bartender of the Year 2023

Australia’s top five bartenders battled it out in Sydney yesterday, Tuesday 27 June 2023 to take home the title of Australia’s best bartender and a coveted place in the World Class Global Finals in September, with Eduardo Conde of El Primo Sanchez in Paddington, Sydney from the Maybe Sammy team, taking the top spot at the final round of the competition last night.

Following multiple cocktail challenges in central Sydney, Conde took the win from fellow top five finalists, Alex Gondzioulis (Liquid & Larder, Sydney), Lachlan Gunner (Sourtrap, Adelaide), Andie Bulley (Savile Row, Brisbane), and Rohan Massie (Rude Boy, Hobart).

The competitors battled it out, going head-to-head across three rounds across one-jam packed day. Leading with the Johnnie Walker Blue Label challenge, they started by creating a modern and sophisticated cocktail that embodied the powerful and rare character flavours of the rare blend Scotch whisky.

The second challenge championed tequila Don Julio 1942 and saw an eye-catching serve created using the iconic tequila as a base, turning the notion of high-end tequila on its head with a disruptive cocktail.

The third and final round was a mystery: Bundaberg Small Batch Rum from Diageo’s award-winning Reserve portfolio was provided, as finalists raced to present five serves within five minutes, three classic and two original cocktails.

Finalists selected their classic cocktails at the beginning of the day, choosing their additional Diageo Reserve spirit and were given a mystery box 30 minutes in advance of the round. A true test of skills and creative flair.

Conde expertly crafted a collection of superb cocktails proving too tough to beat, including a twist on an Old Fashioned featuring papaya and lemon geranium inspired by his Mexican heritage for the first Johnnie Walker Blue Label challenge and a twist on a Paloma using cumquat and mandarin inspired by nightclubs in his home town of Mexico City for the second Don Julio 1942 tequila round. He went on to whip up an impressive five cocktails in the space of five minutes during the final speed round.

He says of the win, “Competing in the Diageo World Class Australian Bartender competition this year has been such an amazing experience. I am incredibly grateful to be part of this tight knit hospitality community and am proud of being able to represent Australia on the global stage this September. Bring on the finals!”

Having relocated to Australia from Mexico almost a decade ago, Eduardo Conde is the bar manager at Maybe Group’s El Primo Sanchez whose drink style is defined by using local flavours in new, bold and exciting ways.

Conde will now compete in the Diageo World Class global final which will be held in Sao Paolo, Brazil from the 24th to the 28th of September. He will join over 50 other global finalists from countries including the United States, Canada, Italy, and the United Kingdom, to represent their nation and battle it out for the coveted title of World Class Global Bartender of the Year.

Kate McGraw, Diageo National Trade Advocacy Manager said: “Each year I am blown away by the sheer talent from the competitors entering World Class, and this year was no different. The 2023 competition has revealed an incredibly exciting landscape of Australian bartending with cocktails championing sustainability and telling the stories of local communities through unexpected and innovative ingredients and techniques.”