Emerging Talent in Bartending 2023 shortlist

IWSC news

Tue 14 Feb 2023

The IWSC’s 2023 Emerging Talent in Bartending Trophy is sponsored by Crossip Drinks.

Last week the IWSC gathered several on-trade experts to judge its Emerging Talent in Bartending Trophy. Recognising the very finest talent in the bartender community, the judges were asked to lookout for individuals they felt were leading the way in creativity and trendsetting in the bar world.

As well as creativity and trendsetting, our judges focussed on the entrants it was clear had really spent time on their applications and prioritised those who had clearly illustrated the educational focus on the way they would spend the travel bursary.

The judging panel consisted of Sam Cooklin-Smith from the IWSC, Dawn Davies MW, Anna Sebastian, last year’s winner Courtney Francis and Tim Blake and Carl Anthony Brown from our award sponsor CROSSIP. There was agreement across our judging panel that many of the entrants were consistent in their feedback which made picking a shortlist difficult. But they eventually reached an agreement.


We are delighted to reveal our 2022 shortlist for the IWSC’s Emerging Talent in Bartending:


Katie Rouse

While her career in hospitality has been longer, it has also only been the past three years that Katie has specialised in bartending. Katie is keen for bartenders to be seen in the same league as great chefs – changing the perception of a career as a bartender is one of her key priorities.

Last year’s Bartending Award winner Courtney was delighted to see that Katie had entered this award and had no idea about it until she received the entry information ahead of the judging session. Courtney recently moved to Birmingham to work in Katie’s bar Couch. As someone who knows Katie, she was keen to emphasise the work she does bringing all her learnings back to the team, sharing experience and skills with the local bartending community, acting in this capacity in an area lacking in mentors.   Tim and Carl were really impressed by Katie’s entry to highlighting that it was confident and well developed, a feeling echoed by the wider judging panel. The judges were also really amused by Katie’s tongue in cheek video entry, which really showcased her passion for cocktails. Katie’s use of the bursary also highlights her dedication to education in the industry, she would use the proceeds to attend Simone Caporale’s Barcelona located masterclasses, to learn to “think outside the bar”, bringing her learnings to her network of bartenders.


Mia Kumari

Mia is a bartender at The Savoy’s American Bar. Three years into her career as a bartender, she entered her first professional cocktail competition - and won! Not resting on her laurels, during the past three years, Mia has really taken responsibility for developing her career, which our judges remarked on, completing her WSET Level 2 in Spirits in 2021 and in the past year graduating from the Rookie program with Edrington Beam Suntory and BarLife UK and being accepted in the 1887 Collective with William Grant and the Moët Hennessy Assemblage community.

She highlighted that the prize bursary would also be used to further her education, working as a volunteer Red Coat at Tales of the Cocktail, or visiting the US to attend Camp Runamok to benefit from small group educational opportunities around distilling, blending and spirits production. Having moved to London from Bristol, Mia is keen to find ways to emulate the smaller community feel around her new community in London. In her entry, Mia also included a lot of ideas on how to improve the work life balance, encouraging members of the on-trade to get outside more.

Judges really appreciated her progressive views for the industry and commended her for the time spent on her entry video, and her use of the award sponsors product in her cocktail was a savvy touch.



Tom Payne

Another really confident entry our judges remarked on his sense of focus. Tom is bar manager at Six Richmond House and has been working in the trade for six years. Clearly someone with an imaginative palate, Tom takes great pleasure in exploring the limits of what you can put in a glass, highlighting a parsnip caramel drink and his pina colada that tastes like a Thai as two of his creations which have brought smiles to his customers faces.

In 2019 Tom reached the final of Diagio’s World Class and Crystal Head Creative Spirit competition. With ambitions to open his own bar and be included on the Top 50 Bars list, our judges really appreciated his clear sense of direction in terms of where he wants to take his career.


As well as the travel bursary of £2.5k for this trophy, each of our shortlisted entrants will be offered the opportunity to join a mentor programme with CROSSIP founder, Carl Anthony Brown

Congratulations to Mia, Katie, and Tom. The winner for the IWSC Emerging Talent in Bartending Trophy will be announced on Tuesday 21 February.