Bruce Dorfling, a Durban mixologist based at Lucky Shaker Cocktail Bar in Umhlanaga, took the coveted crown at the Diageo World Class Durban regional finals last night.

The renowned bartending competition was held at El Toro Tapas and Tequila Bar in Durban North.

Dorfling is the third contestant from the regional finals to go through to the national finals where he will contend for the opportunity to represent South African at the World Class Global Championships in Mexico later this year.

Dorfling has come a long way since Evander – a small town north west of Secunda – where he was born and raised until coming to Durban in his teens.

He said after working his way through a host of positions within the hospitality field – including as a wine specialist and a catering manager – he felt he’d try his hand at bartending.

“I’d done every aspect of hospitality except bartending. I found Luck Shaker was the right move and one year down the line I’m a bartender and entered the competition…”

“This is my first time entering the competition. I found the toughest aspect was in making sure you were making something original and following the instructions.”

Dorfling’s original mix called AfterThought saw him make use of ingredients NOT usually by the bar – like lime peel and even recycled, frozen rain water!

“A few of my peers had entered the competition and I saw how much it helped them grow. So I thought, who wouldn’t want to grow further and learn more?!”

Up against nine other KZN entrants the competition was challenging, but Dorfling managed to win the judges over with his originality in technique, presentation, personality, creativity and other areas.

The Diageo World Class SA 2017 competition marks the search for the South Africa’s best bartender. The competition’s regional events began in Joburg in the first week of March before moving on to Cape Town. The Durban leg of the challenge was finalised last night. National finals will take place in Joburg from 24 to 26 April.

Steve Saunders, Senior Reserve Brand Ambassador at Diageo South Africa, said: "World Class, globally, is the largest bartending competition in the world. So basically we find the best bartender here in South Africa, and that bartender then represents South Africa against 64 different countries to compete to be the best bartender in the world.”

After the national finals, one South African mixologist will be selected to join the best bartenders from around the world to compete for the world’s coveted cocktailing prize in Mexico later this year.