A Melbourne bartender has beaten 10,000 international pretenders to be named winner of the world’s biggest cocktail competition.
Orlando Marzo, head bartender of South Melbourne’s Lûmé, won a gruelling three-challenge final in the Diageo World Class competition against three contenders from the UK, the US and Turkey.
The Italian-born Marzo worked at London bars and eateries including Milk & Honey and Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner by Heston before he moved to Australia in 2013.
The first requirement of the final was to build a drink using a randomly selected spirit, followed by a speed bar tending round and finally a challenge to make a cocktail using unusual elements.
“All the finalists brought their ‘A game’, but Orlando really was on another level,” judge Lauren Mote said.
“The Zacapa aperitif he made for the before and after challenge was one of the best I’ve ever tasted and the way he held his nerve in the cocktail clash finale – for me, that’s the mark of a truly world class bartender.”
Marzo went forward to the international rounds following his victory in May’s Australian finals, competing against 56 of the best bartenders in the business over four days in Berlin, before taking out the nail-biting final.
”I can’t believe it!” said Orlando, ”Just being here, competing alongside the best bartenders in the world, judged by some of the most iconic names in the business was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but to actually win? I’m still in shock.
“I couldn’t have done it without the support of my amazing team back home – they’ve cheered me on every step of the way!”
The Melbourne bartender is the second Australian to take the prestigious title, with Sydney’s Tim Phillips – co-owner of Dead Ringer and Bulletin Place – winning in 2012.
Marzo identified the Australian bar tending culture as “a bit more contemporary than big cities like London” in an interview with Broadsheet back in May.
“The community is more connected to each other. They’re very keen to see what’s next, that’s why Australian food and drink is moving so fast,” he said.
As Australian runner-up in 2017, Marzo is an example of persistence paying off.
He said: “I really wanted to come back because I learned so much and met so many incredible people. I really wanted to be part of the family again.”
Now he is king of the bar tending world.