Inspiring Filipino Bartenders to reach their World Class Potential


We toast, we say “cheers” and clink our glasses – we’re all familiar with this gesture.

But it’s only when you learn more about the culture that a drink becomes more than just that. A drink can bring people together, and can be connected with good memories and great experiences. Suddenly, a cocktail drink is not just a drink. The Mojito you always order becomes more than just your sweet, white, minty rum with lime and water soda. It becomes part of your good moments and celebrations with a story to tell.

That’s what fine drinking is and that’s what we encourage everyone to experience.

Here at WORLD CLASS, we are on a mission to inspire people to drink better and create unforgettable experiences in the process. World Class encourages consumers to think and care about fine drinking in the same way they care about fine dining. World Class has supported, trained, and inspired over 400,000 bartenders, across 60 countries, for over twelve years, while partnering them with the world’s finest spirits – the Diageo Reserve collection.

Over the last decade, we’ve been incredibly fortunate to have seen cocktail culture flourish into a rich and exciting industry here in the Philippines, propelled by a community of individuals that have dedicated their careers to hospitality and impart their passion for great drinks, great food & great service to their guests every day.

World Class was introduced to the Philippines in 2013 and since then has trained thousands of bartenders across the nation through Diageo Bar Academy and World Class Studios. Now in its 9th year, World Class Philippines is immensely proud to have showcased Filipino talent on the global stage with our Diageo World Class Philippines Bartender of the Year Champions: 2013 with AK Roxas competed in France, 2014 with Yoma Rivera in England, 2015 with Kenneth Bandivas in South Africa who also won the Around the World Challenge with Bulleit & Zacapa, 2016 with Michael Tubiera in USA, 2017 with Royce Pua in Mexico, 2018 with Lester Ligon in Germany who ranked top 6 in the world and won the Ketel One Better Drinking Challenge, 2019 with David Abalayan in Scotland and Poch Ancheta who just bagged the crown last 2021 and is our reigning champion.

As World Class Philippines crowns its 2022 Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the year, the vision remains the same. “Our goal at World Class has always been to support, champion & create opportunities for the bars, bartenders & businesses. And we will continue to make Diageo World Class be an inspirational and educational platform of the most influential community of drinks enthusiasts.” – Rian Asiddao, Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador

More and more Filipino bartenders are pursuing their passion for the art of making great cocktails and bringing their bartending skills to the next level and World Class is proud to be a part of this journey. Globally recognized as among the best bartenders in the world, World Class bartenders bring a distinct classy blend of drink styles and out-of-this-world cocktail creations.

This year, we are back with over 25 competitors across the Philippines who will battle it out for the most coveted crown in the world of cocktails.

Who will showcase flair, style, and above all outstanding flavor combinations that will take our judges by storm? Get to know our bartenders and their profiles here.

Melody Lim, one of our World Class Competition participant,  from Oasis Cafe in Solaire Resort and Casino

This year’s competition kicked off with our annual Diageo Bar Academy and World Class Studios. Whether you’re a bartender looking for training programs that will help you in the competitive cocktail industry, or already a professional bartender, no matter what stage you are in your bartending career journey, you’ll find an expertly curated range of learning opportunities. We have the physical in-bar training courses and online learning modules to educate, inspire and challenge Filipino bartenders, to reach their maximum World Class potential. 

The first challenge this year was to create the perfect Aperitif and Digestif drinks with Johnnie Walker Black Label and Johnnie Highballs, and The Singleton with The Singleton Plus Two. With this, we officially launched the competition with 25 awesome bartenders and moved on to our next challenge, wherein our our bartenders were tasked to create their own Martini or Gimlet showcasing the flavors of Tanqueray No. Ten and the modifiers for their Martinis or Gimlet last April 18.

Tanqueray is the only Gin inducted into the San Francisco Hall of Fame, is also the #1 Best Selling Gin and #1 Bartenders’ Choice in the 2022 Drinks International report because of the quality, craft, and heritage of the brand making which is used for their most ingenious creations. We saw Duane Legaspi of Las Flores Alabang and Melody Lim of Oasis Garden Café, Solaire Resort and Casino emerge as winners in this challenge and with them are 12 other bartenders who moved on to the semi-finals. 

The semi-finals was held at the Johnnie Walker Highball Bar in Burgos Park, Forbestown, Taguig where the top 14 battled it out for a spot in the Finals with the Ketel One Community Brew Challenge. 

With judges AK Roxas – First World Class Philippine Champion, Jam Penas – Johnnie Walker Brand Manager, and John Orozco – Beverage Manager of Conrad Hotel. Abby Leyte of Southbank Café + Lounge won this challenge, and with him in the top 7 are: 

  • Claude Delima – The Spirits Library
  • Rodny Protacio – Baccarat Room and Bar, Solaire Resort and Casino
  • Duane Legaspi – Las Flores
  • Melody Lim – Oasis Garden Café, Solaire Resort and Casino
  • Nikki Lacsamana – Baccarat Room and Bar, Solaire Resort and Casino
  • Lovely Engage – Bar 20, Swissotel Clark 

Abby Leyte brought the bayanihan spirit with his winning cocktail. He prepared and presented his very own cocktail named “Bayanihan”. It’s a cocktail inspired by the camaraderie of one community. Abby used local ingredients and seasonal produce to create a unique and World Class Cocktail.

The competition is far from over! Be a part of the world’s biggest bartendending competition by supporting and voting for your favorite bartender and cocktail via the World Class Philippines’ People’s Choice Award.

Packed full of brand challenges, extraordinary serves, and the winner’s reveal, the ultimate bartending competition is set to bring you more updates on its most anticipated events. So make sure to follow us here and our page: @worldclassphilippines so you won’t miss anything! For key dates, view the competition journey here.

We can’t wait to bring Filipino talent to the global stage and with that we are proud to officially announce that Sydney – a city famed for its natural beauty, fashion, art, and cocktail culture, will be our host city for this year’s Global Finals with the ultimate World Class Cocktail Festival! From September 12-15, 2022, the World Class Bartender of the Year Global Finals will take place in the land down under, and we are thrilled to be able to finally welcome the world’s best bartenders to this iconic location and one will be our very own Diageo World Class Philippines Bartender of The Year!

The #RoadToSydney is underway and we want you to be a part of it. Who will be the 2022 World Class Philippines Bartender of the Year? 

As always, #MakeItWorldClass and drink responsibly. Visit Diageo’s global responsible drinking resource,, for information, initiatives, and to learn more about alcohol facts.