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TORONTOMarch 31, 2021 /CNW/ - WORLD CLASS CANADA showcases top bartenders from across the country who compete for the opportunity to represent Canada at the WORLD CLASS Global Finals in Madrid, Spain later this year. After a series of virtual regional challenges from across the country, 11 immensely talented bartenders were shortlisted to battle it out for the winning title in the WORLD CLASS CANADA National Finals from March 28-30, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario.

All candidates were judged on their bartending and hosting techniques by previous WORLD CLASS CANADA winners, including Jeff SavageChris EnnsKaitlyn StewartShane Mulvany and Grant Sceney, in addition to Lauren Mote, Diageo Reserve and WORLD CLASS Global Cocktailian (and 2015 WORLD CLASS CANADA Bartender of the Year), David Ríos, 2013 WORLD CLASS Global Bartender of the Year, Dan Morrow, Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), and Rebecca FelgateToronto-based digital content creator. With a commitment to facilitating a safe environment during the competition, all participants, judges and organizers adhered to local government requirements as well as additional guidelines to ensure a safe and comfortable experience for everyone involved.  

After the final round of fierce competition, WORLD CLASS CANADA crowned James Grant from Edmonton, Alberta as its Bartender of the Year 2021. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, James is currently a bartender at Little Hong Kong in Edmonton.

"Winning World Class Canada Bartender of the Year is an honour to represent the Canadian bartending community and compete on the global stage," said James Grant, WORLD CLASS CANADA Bartender of the Year 2021. "It's been an incredible five-year journey and I can't wait to showcase my passion and creativity at the Global Finals this summer."

Both the winner and runner-up of the WORLD CLASS CANADA National Finals will attend an educational trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, home of Johnnie Walker Princes Street, an upcoming whisky experience for visitors.

James Grant will compete against top bartenders from across the globe in July at the WORLD CLASS Global Finals in Madrid, Spain. James will create cocktails with luxury spirits, such as Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch Whisky, Tanqueray No. Ten Gin, Bulleit Bourbon, Don Julio Tequila, Ketel One Vodka and more. James will be contending for the highly regarded title of WORLD CLASS Global Bartender of the Year 2021.

Since 2009, over 325,000 bartenders across 60 countries have brought their passion, culture, flavour and personal stories to the world through the World Class program.

"World Class plays an important role in driving the industry forward with education and tools to help bartenders achieve their goals and transform fine drinking and cocktail culture," said Michael Armistead, WORLD CLASS CANADA lead with Diageo Canada. "As one of the most prestigious bartending contests in the world, World Class continues its mission to inspire people to drink better and create unforgettable experiences in the process. We're excited for James as he prepares for the Global Final in Madrid, Spain and represents Canada."

In addition to the WORLD CLASS CANADA National Finals, WORLD CLASS Cocktail Festival Toronto kicked off on March 28 and runs until April 2, offering up an array of virtual pairings, tastings and masterclasses, led by some of Canada's top bartenders. For more information, visit www.worldclasscocktailfestival.com.

When experimenting with your own mixology skills or enjoying award-winning cocktails from your favourite local bartender, WORLD CLASS CANADA reminds you to drink responsibly.