SINGAPORE - Bannie Kang, head bartender at Anti:Dote at the Fairmont Singapore, has been crowned the world's best bartender for 2019 at the Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year cocktail competition.
Held in Glasgow, Scotland, on Thursday (Sept 26), the bartender, who is originally from Busan, South Korea, beat 52 other contenders from around the world.
Ms Kang, 30, is the 11th champion and the first winner from Singapore. She has been based here since 2010 and at hotel bar Anti:Dote, she is known for her innovative cocktails that incorporate market-fresh ingredients, as well as ingredients found in traditional Korean dishes, such as white kimchi and Korean plum liqueur.
The annual international bartending competition is considered one of the most prestigious in the world and bartenders from Singapore have taken part in every edition since 2009.
They include the likes of Ms Aubrey Sim, of the now-defunct whisky bar B28; Mr Peter Chua, who was with cocktail bar 28 Hong Kong Street at the time; and Mr Jerrold Khoo, currently with Jigger & Pony, who represented Singapore at the finals in 2009, 2014 and 2018 respectively.
For this year's edition, the bartenders competed in a series of challenges over four days in the Netherlands and Scotland, before the finals in Glasgow, during which the top eight bartenders had to create cocktails using The Singleton single malt whisky, Tanqueray No. Ten gin and Johnnie Walker whisky. There was alsoa final speed cocktail making round, judged by industry veterans including Hidetsugu Ueno of Bar High Five in Tokyo and Monica Berg of Tayer + Elementary in London.
In a press statement, Mr Simon Earley, head of Diageo World Class, said: "This year's competition was one of the most competitive we've ever had. Bannie Kang is a worthy winner and her technique, temperament and artisanship really stood out across the four days."
On her win, Ms Kang said in a separate statement: "It still hasn't quite sunk in that I've successfully beaten thousands of incredible bartenders from across six continents. It has been one amazing and fruitful experience that I will not forget."
With her win, she will spend the next 12 months travelling the world as a global ambassador for Diageo's Reserve brands, including conducting guest shifts at the world's best bars.
Next year's Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year finals will take place in Sydney, Australia.