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  • Writer's pictureDanny Joyce | Editor

Irish Bartender Cal Byrne crowned Diageo Reserve’s World Class Bartender of the Year 2021

Cal Byrne from renowned cocktail hot spot The Blind Pig was crowned Diageo Reserve’s World Class Bartender of the Year 2021 Ireland at the National Final last night.

Cal will now go on to represent Ireland at the fully virtual World Class Bartender of the Year Global Finals in Madrid this July, showcasing his creative approach to mixology on a global renowned stage competing with over 55 bartenders from across the world.

The World Class Ireland 2021 Final took place at the Vision X Studio in Dublin last night whereby five finalists battled it out across two unique challenges. The finalists were first challenged with creating a Whiskey Tiki Cocktail, using brands such as Bulleit Bourbon, Roe & Co Irish Whiskey and Talisker 10-Year-Old Scotch Whiskey, which took inspiration from the tropical regions of the South Pacific.

This was followed by The Spanish Showdown speed challenge, whereby each bartender attempted to make six classic cocktails in six minutes. The challenge aims to test the efficiency and precision of each contestant, giving them the opportunity to showcase the skills acquired from working in busy cocktail bars.

The competition welcomed Emmy Pip Knight from Ohana Tiki Bar, Ali Hayes from the Exchequer Bar, Ken Herlihy from House and Fergus O’Leary from The Mayson Hotel with Cal Byrne of The Blind Pig claiming the coveted title in the end. Each finalist has gone through a rigorous process withstanding an initial World Class expert panel reviewing over 60 entrants. The panel selected their top twelve candidates and after two separate challenges aimed to test their capabilities, the selection was whittled down to the top five.

World Class Ireland 2021 final was broadcasted live from the Vision X Studio in Dublin, with fellow bartenders, media, friends, and family tuning in virtually to cheer on the five finalists. It was an exciting first for the World Class Ireland competition, partnering with Nial Molloy Consultancy and Catapult to bring the competition to life with a fully virtual broadcast, ensuring the creativity and skill of each contestant shone through to those viewing at home.

Cal Byrne, winner of the World Class Bartender of the Year 2021 Ireland said: “The World Class competition celebrates cocktail culture across the globe and shines a light on the creativity and skill involved in cocktail creation. After what has been an extremely challenging year for the hospitality sector, I’m honoured to be flying the flag for bartenders across the country as I represent Ireland on the global World Class stage”.

Nial Molloy, World Class Ireland Lead comments: “We were delighted to run the World Class programme this year even whilst our trade is on hold. Ireland has always represented itself very well at the Global Finals and the role of National winner can be game-changing for them. It was interesting to move the programme online and was thankfully well received by both the competitors and audiences at each stage. We were all in awe of some of the skills and talent on show last night - it really showcases the professionalism and skill level that Ireland has to offer. We can’t wait to see what they do at the global final, which is fully virtual this year and brings a world of new challenges to the fore.”

Cal Byrne will noe represent Ireland at the World Class Bartender of the Year 2021 Global Finals in Madrid on July 5th – 8th, the first ever fully virtual broadcast for the competition. The five-day spectacle will be packed full of immersive opportunities for people to both watch the competition and engage with amazing virtual and interactive experiences. He will compete virtually from Ireland, competing against over 55 worldwide finalists as they sip, shake, and stir their way through a series of unique challenges in a bid to win the coveted title of World Class Global Bartender of the Year 2021.


• Roe & Co Irish Whiskey

• Bunratty Honey Mead

• Purple Tiger Juice

• Acid Adjusted Apple Juice

• Malted Barley Honey

• Pippets Primrose Tincture

• Hedgerow Bitters

Here's what Cal could walk away with;


The winner of the Diageo Reserve’s World Class Bartender of the Year 2021 Ireland will win a prize package worth €20,000, consisting of:

• Entry to the Fully virtual World Class Global Finals

• €1000 worth of Cocktail equipment

• €4000 worth of educational programmes

• A minimum of five paid World Class events in 2021/22

• PR & Media support

• 3 months bespoke training & support from Nial Molloy Consultancy

A big congratulations to Cal for this fantastic achievement, and the very best of luck wished for the Global finals in July!

Slán go fóill,


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