For the first time ever, Canada is participating in the search for the world's best bartender shining the spotlight on Canada's thriving cocktail cultureTORONTO, Feb. 21, 2013 /CNW/ - Fifty countries, 15,000 bartenders, 100,000 cocktails. The quest for the world's greatest bartender has begun and for the first time ever, Canada is being represented on the global cocktail stage. Known as the Oscars of the Cocktail world, Diageo World Class is an international ground-breaking cocktail training program for bartenders that celebrates the craft of bartending including creativity, flair and skill. The Canadian debut is generating international attention and attracting cocktail legends from across the globe to Canada, including world renowned experts and sought after speakers Steve Olsen and Tony Abou-Ganim. Canada will also host internationally acclaimed Global Mixologists, previous Diageo World Class winners and Brand Icons who will impart their knowledge on Canada's bartenders and support the country's thriving cocktail culture. According to Diageo World Class judge and American Cocktail Expert, Gary Regan, "from all that I've seen from Canada's bartenders, there's absolutely no doubt that Canada is not only ready, but also willing and able to join World Class. You know it makes sense." "Now in its fourth year, we're thrilled that Diageo Canada is participating in World Class, giving our Canadian bartenders the opportunity to showcase their talents in the world's largest international cocktail event," said Maggie Lapcewich, president of Diageo Canada. "Fifty of the most elite bartenders will vie for the coveted title of Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year, and for the first time, we're proud that a Canadian will be among them." Canadian bartenders have been anxiously anticipating Diageo World Class since the program's inception. According to Vancouver bartender Shawn Soole, "Diageo World Class Canada gives us the opportunity to work with the greatest names in the business and attract a larger and more global clientele who want to be served by the best bartender in the world." Before a Canadian can become the best bartender in the world, they first have to prove they are Canada's best! To embark on this journey, bartenders must submit a video of themselves, explaining why they love being a bartender, then complete a series of three educational modules scoring a minimum of 80% on each. Finally, they must create one cocktail using the finest spirits from Diageo's Reserve brands which include: ZACAPA® rum, BULLEIT ® bourbon, JOHNNIE WALKER® Blended Scotch Whisky, KETEL ONE® vodka, TANQUERAY® #TEN™ gin, tequila DON JULIO® , Classic Malts and GRAND MARNIER®. Bartenders can complete these tasks by registering at www.diageoworldclasscanada.com. From February 20th to April 30th 2013, the nationwide search for Canada's best bartenders will be underway, with Global Ambassadors and Master Distillers meeting Canadian bartenders to share their wisdom in their quest to find the best. Global World Class Mixologist Philip Duff from Ireland and Global Tanqueray Brand Ambassador Angus Winchester from England, will narrow the field of entries down to ten, and Canada's top ten finalists will meet in to Toronto for the Diageo World Class Canada finals on June 10, 2013. To win the title of Diageo Canada's World Class Bartender of the Year, finalists must complete three challenges that require them to create six original cocktails. The bartenders and their cocktails will be judged by an esteemed panel of judges including Cocktail Luminaries Steve Olsen and Tony Abou-Ganim, along with last year's World Class USA winner Ricky Gomez and Canadian author and journalist, Jacob Richler. The bartender with the highest score will be crowned Diageo Canada's World Class Bartender of the Year and go on to represent Canada in the Global Final aboard the Azamara Club Cruise Ship Azamara Journey from July 4th - 9 th setting sail along the French Riviera in Nice and Monte Carlo. Only the 50 best bartenders in the world will be selected to compete to earn the coveted title of Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year. Be World Class. Always Mix Responsibly.