Evan Stroeve, RE Sydney.

The top three bartenders in Australia have been revealed by Diageo World Class, one of the drinks industry’s most respected international bartending competitions.

Evan Stroeve (RE, Sydney), Kayla Saito (Leonardo’s Pizza Palace, Melbourne) and David Aznar (Rosella’s, Gold Coast) were selected from the top 100 finalists, who they competed against in a series of digital challenges designed for Covid-19.

The competition saw the top 100 use a series of Diageo Reserve Brands – including Don Julio tequila, Ketel One vodka, Tanqueray No.TEN gin, and Johnnie Walker Black Label – to “experiment with flavour, balance and creativity”. The final task was to create their own version of a Johnny Walker highball.

Next week, on Tuesday 27 April, Stroeve, Saito and Aznar will compete against one another for the title of Australian World Class Bartender of the Year in the World Class Australian finals. The event will take place at Paramount House Golden Age Bar as part of the World Class Cocktail Festival in Sydney.

On the night, the three finalists will go head to head in a series of three live challenges. The first will see them create their own sustainable bottled cocktail using Ketel One Vodka; the second asks the finalists to create a “mystery box” that embodies Australia’s flora and fauna, using a small pantry of classic bar ingredients; and the final challenge will take the form of an energetic speed round to test their skills with a range of spirits.

The bartender who comes out on top will be crowned Australian World Class Bartender of the Year, and will go on to represent Australia in the international finals in July.