The Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year competition – the world’s largest event of its kind – opened in dazzling style in Johannesburg, South Africa, last night with a scintillating Johnnie Walker Symphony In Blue event to welcome the globe’s top bartenders.

Competing bartenders, master distillers and celebrities of the mixology universe arrived in Johannesburg on the weekend and made guest appearances at some of the city’s top establishments and even went on a game drive before the welcome Symphony in Blue event.

Held at the city’s historic Turbine Hall, hosted by media personality Bonang Matheba, renowned praise poet, Zolani Mkiva opened with a stirring praise greeting to the 54 competing bartenders from over 50 countries, before Young Mambazo – the progeny of Grammy Award-winning group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo – took to the stage, followed by the Symphony In Blue experience.

An experiential and theatrical journey into the rich history and flavours of Johnnie Walker Blue, Symphony in Blue included performances from a Norwegian drumming group as well as the “Striding Man” dancers before Johnnie Walker Blue Label global brand ambassador Tom Jones took guests through an immersive, multi-sensory experience.

Now the WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year competition gets underway in earnest as bartenders travel to Cape Town for a series of challenges, to be judged by some of the world’s most illustrious mixologists, in an effort to be crowned the best bartender in the world.

With the global finals taking place in Africa for the first time, the winner of the WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year competition will be announced in the recently appointed World Cocktail Capital, Cape Town, on Friday, September 4.

 At World Class House

Visitors to the centre-piece WORLD CLASS House at Cape Town’s Roodebloem Studios, meanwhile, will have an opportunity to experience an informal, more intimate version of the Symphony In Blue up until September 5, where Tom Jones will again guide guests through the rich tastes of Blue Label®.

“Johnnie Walker Blue Label™® is one of the most respected spirits in the world of luxury drinking, owing to its unique flavour and quality. It is the pinnacle of blended Scotch whisky and a masterful combination of rare flavours from the four corners of Scotland. I’m looking forward to taking guests on this amazing journey at World Class House,” says Tom Jones.

This year’s WORLD CLASS Global Finals are the biggest and best yet, with 54 bartenders from over 50 countries set to compete in a series of innovative challenges in Johannesburg and Cape Town in a bid to be crowned the world’s best bartender.

The final takes place in Cape Town on September 4 and while WORLD CLASS House stays open until September 5.

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