Owen O’Reilly was crowned South Africa's Diageo World Class winner for 2019 at the Johannesburg finals on 29 June. He'll go on to represent South Africa at the globals in Glasgow in September.

Owen O’Reilly was crowned South Africa’s Diageo World Class winner for 2019 at the Johannesburg finals on 29 June. He’ll go on to represent South Africa at the globals in Glasgow in September.

Now in its 11th year, the Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender competition is the industry’s most prestigious mixology event and aims to elevate the skill and craft of the bartending profession, setting global trends and standards in the service industry. 

The panel of judges included My Kitchen Rules SA’s David Higgs, Instagram famous chef Neo Nontso, award-winning bartender and owner of Lucky Shaker Mike Stephenson and World Class Netherlands 2015 winner Tess Posthumus. 

The three-day competition was full of excitement and comprised of a series of gruelling challenges alongside other top bartenders. The most challenging of them all was Twelve in Ten – a rigorous display of skill and excellence as bartenders made12 cocktails in 10 minutes. After the five challenges were assessed and scored, Owen O’Reilly was named SA’s World Class National Finals Champion. 

Owen O’Reilly competing in a challenge.

Owner of Molecular Bars and World Class South Africa winner in 2015, Dom De Lorenzo is still highly involved in the growth of Diageo’s passion project. He’s been running the World Class programme since 2016. 

‘Diageo World Class is the world’s leading bartending competition and the finalists are paving the way in the cocktail culture. The competition is a great way to educate consumers on the versatility of the Diageo portfolio while showing them how they can elevate their own celebrations with exciting new executions. 

Owen has our full support as he journeys to Glasgow. We know his South African flare will shine through his execution and we are already proud,’ says De Lorenzo. 

Owen O’Reilly collecting his trophy.

Owen will represent South Africa in Glasgow against the best in the world, where mixologists from more than 60 countries will compete to be the ultimate, World Class Bartender.