Diageo, maker of some of the world’s most iconic and popular liquor brands such as Johnnie Walker, Singleton, and Tanqueray continues its mission to inspire people to drink better – not more – and create unforgettable experiences by upskilling bartenders through the Diageo Bar Academy.
Diageo Bar Academy has been providing a platform for bartenders to level up and improve their career through training and education since 2010. In the Philippines, Diageo Bar Academy has reached 3,000 Filipino bartenders. In January 2023, the Academy trained an additional 830 Filipino bartenders in 240 outlets from Metro Manila, Greater Luzon and Visayas.
“The Diageo Bar Academy is one of the main initiatives in the Championing Inclusion & Diversity pillar of our Society 2030: Spirit of Progress program. We believe that the profession of bartending is open to all men, and we are delighted to see the 30% female bartenders join the Diageo Bar Academy. We look forward to continuing to inspire male and female bartenders to advance their profession to a world-class level. This is why we are excited to have one of our Diageo Bar Academy graduates, Alyssa Lorenzo also known as Aly, representing the Philippines in the upcoming World Class Competition later this year”, said Rian Asiddao, Reserve Brand Ambassador and Diageo Bar Academy Trainer.
It was a momentous occasion for the local bartending industry when 28-year-old Aly, a Diageo Bar Academy graduate, broke the glass ceiling by becoming the first female overall champion at the recently concluded which is the Philippine leg of the Diageo World Class Philippines Bartender of the Year 2023 competition. Aly will represent the Philippines in the elite World Class Bartender of the Year competition that will take place in Sao Paolo, Brazil in September 2023.
We sat down with this incredibly talented and creative mixologist to ask him what he believes it takes to succeed in his chosen highly competitive field, and he shared five unique insights into what it takes to think of champions.
Mixing mastery in action. Aly expertly blends flavors with finesse and precision.
- Honor your love. Aly likens his discovery of bartending to love at first sight. As if the light hit him as a sophomore in college, saw a flairtending exhibition and wanted more than anything to learn the unique skills that bartenders show with ease. This motivated him to learn everything he could about the profession and, from that first moment, he never forgot that love and passion for the craft. This passion took him from college to his first job at 5ynco, to his current position as head mixologist at Xi by Café Guilt.
- Accept the difficulty. It is always true that nothing good comes easy, and that is a fact that you must accept if you want to do well in any field. Learning to accept criticism, criticism, and even outright negativity and handling it in a healthy way is what separates the legends from the “one rans”. “I think it’s normal to receive negative comments,” said Aly, “but the more discouraged I get, the more I want to prove myself and the fact that I can do better every day. I was patient, I persevered, and I became stronger.”
- Work well with others and create a supportive community. Aly discovered the value of companionship and knowledge early on. By joining a creative community of other bartenders he found a connection that enabled them all to build off each other’s strengths and learn from each other’s experiences. After all, a rising tide lifts all ships.
Aly emphasizes that friendships at work play an important part in her professional life. “It’s not just about saying ‘Hi’ and ‘Hello’, it’s about lifting each other up and offering hands to meet each other’s needs. Healthy competition and community drive everyone to win. Every day we discover many things that help us improve and improve our drinks until they reach the best place.”
Today’s industry, regardless of competition, has grown in leaps and bounds when it comes to fostering collaboration. It’s even more remarkable when you realize that many of the gender biases that once plagued the industry are no longer the norm. In fact, when asked if bartending, and especially bartending competitions, is a “boy’s club”, Aly vehemently denied it and said that “my ‘Kuyas’ offered a lot of help during the competition!”
A triumphant moment: Aly proudly holds her well-deserved trophy, celebrating her victory as the first female overall champion. His winning cocktail, Sugid, beautifully embodies his Filipino heritage, reflecting the values of character, diligence, and perseverance.
- Play to your strengths. Aly’s winning cocktail, wait, is subtle in gastronomic form. Conceptualized through his pride in his heritage and his desire to promote Filipino values hard work, hard work, and perseverance, a white globe served over a banana leaf is not what comes to mind when one thinks of cocktails. Instead, it is a perfect representation of who Aly is – a Filipina who got to where she is today through said values, dedication and hard work.
- Learn the differences between real and imaginary limits. While some limitations are very real, such as the need to sleep and eat, others are purely imaginary. For example, you can be a woman and become a bartender—a very good one. “Not everyone knows the capabilities of a female bartender, which is greatly underestimated by everyone,” shared Aly. Refusing to accept the limitations of gender, race and orientation bias is what put this woman on the map. He knows he can do everything and anything a male bartender can do and takes it upon himself to learn and grow to bring the best skills to the table. A proud promoter of Pinay Pride, Aly proudly exclaimed, “Long live the Filipinos!”
While Aly continued to train in preparation for his dealings with representatives of other countries, his colleagues encouraged him. Many of them went through the same training as he did at the Diageo Bar Academy, which served as a fertile environment where many of them nurtured the same passion for excellence that Aly displayed.
Aly is the first female World Class Champion showing the world that bartending knows no gender. Providing a level playing field for ambitious mixologists and bartenders as well as identifying and nurturing the talent of those who want to take up the craft is one of the driving goals of the Diageo Bar Academy. With this victory, Aly is undeniable proof of the potential that this organization can open, and the drinking public can expect to reap the benefits.