Bartender of the Year 2021 James Grant faces the future

Diageo World Class excited to support the bartending comeback

Diageo World Class Global Bartender of the Year James Grant gets a lift from previous winners of the World Class Canada title. Photos courtesy of World Class Canada

It took James Grant only a decade to go from bartending “to pay the bills” to becoming the Diageo World Class Global Bartender of 2021—a title that recognizes him as the world’s best bartender.

“It’s pretty wild. It’s finally started to sink in,” says the bar manager of Edmonton’s Little Hong Kong. “I’m very humbled and grateful to have done OK representing the Canadian bartending community on the world stage.”

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Canada’s James Grant named Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year

Edmonton’s James Grant is 2021 World Class Bartender of the Year. Supplied photo

For the second time in only four years, a Canadian bartender has taken home the title of World Class Bartender of the Year.

After a gruelling four-day virtual final, Edmonton’s James Grant triumphed over his colleagues from 50 countries to win the world’s biggest and most prestigious cocktail competition, Diageo World Class.

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Edmonton’s James Grant named Bartender of the Year 2021

Diageo World Class is back with a thrilling competition and big new plans

Former World Class Canada winners welcome the newest champion, Edmonton bartender
James Grant, to the group. From left: Shane Mulvany, Kaitlyn Stewart, Jeff Savage, James Grant, Grant Sceney and Chris Enns. Photos courtesy of World Class Canada

Michael Armistead thought organizing the 2019 World Class Canada finals in Whistler—where he had to transport all the bars, people and gear to the top of a mountain—was the hardest thing he’d ever do. Then along came COVID-19 and the 2021 finals in Toronto.

“Having done it, I know we can do anything now,” says Armistead, who oversees the Diageo World Class Canada Bartending Competition as National On Premise, Reserve and Sponsorship Manager. “With all of the external factors, this was the most complex event I have ever put together.”

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The Fire at the Mill

The Black Lodge's The Fire at the Mill cocktail.
The Black Lodge photo

This cocktail was created by Edmonton’s James Grant, and is featured on the list at The Black Lodge.

• Mist/rinse of peaty whisky
• 1 oz rosemary-infused gin (see note)
• 1 oz Scotch whisky
• 0.5 oz medium dry sherry
• 0.5 oz ginger syrup
• 0.5 oz lemon juice
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters

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