Canada wins again

A Canadian wins World Class for an unprecedented third time. So what’s next for our talented bartenders?

Bartender Jacob Martin shakes things up at the World Class Global Final in Brazil. Photos courtesy of World Class Canada

On September 29, amid confetti and cheers, Toronto’s Jacob Martin became the World Class Global Bartender 2023, the third time a bartender from Canada—or any country—has won the world’s biggest, most prestigious cocktail competition. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment, and a fitting finale to Canada’s 10th year of competing in the event.

“Canada now has three global titles—2017, 2021 and 2023. No other country can say that,” says Michael Armistead, who oversees the World Class Canada program as National Onpremise, Reserve and Sponsorship Manager. “The nearest are Australia and Japan, which both have two.”

He adds: “We are incredibly proud of what Jacob has achieved. We’re excited to see where it takes his career over the next couple of years.”

Not surprisingly, Armistead has been approached many times by others wanting to know what Canada’s secret is. “What’s the magic formula? It’s the strength of the Canadian bartending community and the supporting team, the World Class Canada team of previous winners,” he says.

As Jacob Martin is named World Class Global Bartender of 2023, previous winners rush the stage to celebrate—including two fellow Canadians, Kaitlyn Stewart and James Grant.

Supporting Martin at the global final in São Paulo, Brazil, were previous national winners Massimo Zitti, Shane Mulvany and Jeff Savage, who placed second globally in 2019. The Canadian contingent also included Canada’s global winners Kaitlyn Stewart (2017) and James Grant (2021), who were there as judges, as well as a videographer.

“We went with two goals in mind,” Armistead says. “The first, obviously, was doing well in the competition. The next was to network as much as possible for a future global final to be held in Canada.”

Meanwhile, since their return from São Paulo, the World Class Canada team has hit the ground running with appearances at Victoria’s Art of the Cocktail, the Vancouver Cocktail Week preview on November 28 and the relaunch of the World Class Studios Tour, a series of in-depth seminars and pop-ups in 11 cities across the country, showcasing Diageo’s reserve brands, such as Johnnie Walker whisky and Don Julio tequila.

They are also accepting entries for World Class Canada 2024. The website ( is open for submissions until November 21, then Regional Finals will be held in January in Victoria and Toronto, with 15 finalists chosen from the East and 15 from the West.

The 2024 National Final will be held in Halifax March 24 to 28, but coming as it does just days after the Juno Awards in that city, Armistead says: “We will be running the World Class Cocktail Festival in Halifax for two weeks and will have some exciting guests attending.”

Next year’s global final will be in Shanghai, China, and after that who knows? It might one day even be in our own back yard. After all, Armistead says, “After all, Canada deserves to see a global final right here at home.”

Diageo World Class Canada,

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