The last challenge leg of Diageo Reserve World Class 2016 ended on a flavorful note last May 12 at Solaire Resort and Casino.
Diageo Reserve World Class is the cocktail industry’s most renowned and respected mixology training programme and competition worldwide. This 2016, the world’s best bartenders will pit their skills, impeccable techniques, and knowledge against each other in front of experts in the global bartending industry.
The third and biggest challenge round for the prestigious Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year 2016 followed the theme “Cuisine Meat Cocktails”- a feast of savory flavors and the world’s finest Scotch whiskies. The challenge ushered in #LoveScotch – a global movement that promotes Scotch whisky’s unique style, substance, and flavor.  
Competing bartenders made use of Diageo Reserve’s portfolio of Scotch whisky: Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, Johnnie Walker Platinum Label, Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Singleton of Glen Ord, Glenkinchie, Cragganmore, Talisker, Lagavulin, and Caol Ila in their cocktails.

18 of Manila’s top mixologists served scrumptious creations that surprised the senses with unthinkable ingredients by balancing savory tastes to the diverse flavor profiles of Scotch whisky. The “Cuisine Meat Cocktails” challenge was a test of integrating food elements while putting together exceptional cocktails. 
“This batch was truly exceptional. The bartenders did a great job this year,” said Marie Ona, Diageo Reserve Philippines Luxury Manager. “All three winners demonstrated unique talents and the promise to make a difference in Miami later on this year, taking advantage of food trends to create their winning cocktails.” 
Offering their discerning palates to the competition were judges Will Thompson, Global Ambassador for Don Julio Tequila; Hannah Waters Cocktail Apprentice of Tales of the Cocktails; and Ray Reyes, food and travel blogger of lynne-enroute.com. Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador Rian Asiddao hosted the competition.
Lester Ligon from ABV landed the third spot in this final challenge. 
In his sea-inspired cocktail named “Ex Fide Fortis,” Ligon combined escargot and salmon gravlax infused apple brandy, homemade apple ginger syrup, egg whites, lemon juice, and celery bitters. To anchor this luxe cocktail, Ligon used Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve. 
For his reiteration of a savory cocktail, Lloyd Misagal from ABV turned to a comfort food staple: pizza. To emulate the flavors of pizza, Masigal infused Lagavulin 16 with pepperoni, blended it with homemade tomato consommé and lemon juice. It is then topped with mozzarella foam. 
Called “Papa John’s”, it is a well-balanced cocktail with a tangy sweetness from the tomato, saltiness from the mozzarella, and a smoky flavor from the Lagavulin 16.
The winning cocktail of this challenge is Ian Osillo of the Exit Bar. 

His Manong Pangga cocktail is a play on the classic whisky sour. It plays on a beloved Pinoy pairing: bagoong (fermented shrimp paste) and green mango. Osillo used Lagavulin 16 as his base and mixed it with green mango juice, pepper sauce, grilled bell pepper, and cucumber, topped with roasted bagoong. Needless to say, “Manong Pangga” is a burst of bright flavor.
Will Thompson then revealed the top 4 bartenders who will move on to the regional finals in Bali, Indonesia from May 30 to June 3. 
Representing the Philippines in the regional finals are:
  1. Lester Ligon from ABV
  2. Niño Cruz from the City of Dreams
  3. Michael Tubera from Rambla
  4. Jay Natividad of Solaire Resort and Casino. 

They also received premium prizes from Diageo and BevTools. The top 4 semi-finalists will battle it out in a series of innovative challenges, created to test their talent and creativity all whilst being judged by a panel of industry experts. The winners of the regional finals will then go on to compete in the Global Finals in Miami, Florida, where they will have the opportunity to learn from the industry’s most renowned figures and gain access to exclusive World Class tools and workshops.

Every year, Diageo Reserve World Class continues to grow, with more and more countries adapting the training program and joining the World Class Bartender of the Year Competition. Now on its eighth year globally, World Class continues to elevate the craft, innovation, and creativity within the cocktail industry. This is the fourth year the Philippines is participating with the biggest batch thus far with contenders hailing from Manila’s finest bars.  

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