Last night, history was made in the Canadian cocktail industry at the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel in Toronto. For the first time in its four years of running, Canadians were allowed to compete for a spot in the world’s largest cocktail competition: Diageo World Class. At the Global World Class competition, bartenders compete from 50 different countries to win the title of “world’s best bartender”.

10 Canadian finalist bartenders were selected for last night’s final after going through lengthy selection process that ran from February 20th until April 30th, 2012. For the finals, each bartender had to invent 2 cocktails for the 3 following categories:

Retro Chic – An understanding of cocktail evolution from classics to their modern counterparts.
Tropical Journey – An understanding of Tiki culture, tropical ingredients and next-generation tropical drinks.
Hollywood, Bollywood, Hong Kong – An understanding the art of cocktail presentation and service.

Drinks were judged by mixologist & author Tony Abou-Ganim, bar consultant Steve Olson, author Jacob Richler, and 2012 Diageo World Class US winner Ricky Gomez (who finished 5th in the world at last years event).

The bartenders competed all day from 10 in the morning until 10 at night when the winner, Jenner Cormier of Halifax was selected. The competition was so close that Cormier beat out Toronto based Shane Mulvany by just .25 points.

Jenner Cormier hugs Ricky Gomez after winning Diageo World Class Canada

Jenner Cormier hugs Ricky Gomez after winning Diageo World Class Canada

All the bartenders had some really creative ideas and are definitely worth visiting for a drink. Here are the 10 finalists and where you can see their work in action:

Canada’s 10 Best Bartenders

Nishan of Blowfish at Diageo Canada World Class

Nishantha Nepulangoda at Diageo Canada World Class

Mike Birdsey
Where To Find Him: Boehmer Restaurant (93 Ossington Ave, Toronto)

Jenner Cormier (1st Place)
Where To Find Him: The Middle Spoon / Noble (1559 Barrington St, Halifax)

Brad Gubbins
Where To Find Him: Spirithouse (487 Adelaide St. W, Toronto)

Joe Howell
Where To Find Him: The Spoke Club (600 King St. W, Toronto)

Gavin MacMillan
Where To Find Him: College Street Bar (574 College St, Toronto) / BartenderOne Flair Bartender Training

Shane Mulvany (2nd Place)
Where To Find Him: To Be Determined

Nishantha Nepulangoda (One of my favourite bartenders in Toronto)
Where To Find Him: Blowfish Restaurant (668 King St. W, Toronto)

Grant Sceney (3rd Place)
Where To Find Him: Fairmont Pacific Rim (1038 Canada Place, Vancouver)

Oliver Stern
Where To Find Him: Toronto Temperance Society (577a College St. W, Toronto)

Jeffrey Van Horne
Where To Find Him: The Bicycle Thief (1475 Lower Water St, Halifax)

Diageo Canada World Class Finalists & Judges

Diageo Canada World Class Finalists & Judges

Other Awesome Toronto Mixologists/Bartenders

The crowd at the event also contained many familiar faces from the Toronto bar scene and while these guys weren’t in the finals, I definitely recommend checking out their bars if you like a good cocktail:

Clinton Pattemore
Where To Find Him: Making a Caesar somewhere around Canada. Clint is the Caesar Mixing Officer for Mott’s Clamato

Robin James Wynne
Where To Find Him: Rock Lobster (538 Queen St W, Toronto)

Rob Montgomery
Where To Find Him: The Miller On Bay (31 Bay St, Toronto)

Think going out for a nice cocktail is too expensive? Well, you can always stock your liquor cabinet at home for cheap.

Who is your favorite bartender in Canada and where can you find them? (Let us know in the comments section below)

*NOTE: I understand that this competition is sponsored by Diageo and may not accurately represent the best of the best in Canada, but as far as I know it is the closest thing and one of the most coveted titles for a bartender anywhere in the world.