Emerging Talent in Bartending 2024 shortlist

Spirit news

Tue 13 Feb 2024

By Kristen Dougall

The IWSC’s 2024 Emerging Talent in Bartending award is sponsored by William Grant & Sons.

For such a creative arm of the drinks industry, the IWSC had high hopes for the applications for our Emerging Talent in Bartending award, and this year’s applicants did not disappoint! With a record-breaking number of entrants, from all across the globe, our judges were met with the unenviable task of choosing a shortlist from some truly exceptional and entertaining applications.

The judging panel consisted of Anna Sebastian, a household name in bartending, now Founder of Anna Sebastian Hospitality consulting for luxury hospitality, Shannon Tebay, Beverage Director for 26 Denmark Street and IWSC Judging Committee member for our RTD and mixer categories, Courtney Francis, Bartender at Couch Stirchley and past winner of the IWSC’s Emerging Talent in Bartending award, Charlotte Voisey, Global Head of Ambassador Advocacy for our sponsor, William Grant & Sons and Laura Richards, Club Oenologique’s Editorial Director.

The 2024 shortlist for the IWSC’s Emerging Talent in Bartending is:


Anna King

Anna is the Bartender at The Guards Bar & Lounge at Raffles Hotel at The OWO in London. Anna’s foray into the bar scene started at a music festival where the love for service, the atmosphere that came with it and the cocktails were too much of a pull. From there Anna joined Be at One, learning the hustle and bustle that came with bartending, learning speed, efficiency and high-volume. These skills set Anna up for joining the opening team of The Guards Bar & Lounge at luxury hotel Raffles.  

Anna’s growth in the last few years really impressed our judges, from an inception into the luxury hospitality sector and honing bartending skills, to Anna’s clear focus on promoting and championing the Queer space within the industry. Our judges believe Anna is an inspiration to others wanting to enter the industry, and they commended Anna’s passion.


Katie Rouse

Katie is the Co-founder of bar Couch in Stirchley. Katie has spent many years working in the drinks industry in marketing and sales roles, but it wasn’t until 4 years ago when she ventured into hospitality when she opened Couch bar with her partner Jacob. Katie hopes to put her city on the drinks industry map, through the various competitions her team has entered, they are not only gaining more knowledge but also promoting the bar.

Our judges really felt Katie’s passion in her application, her desire to give back to her industry and mentor others is commendable. Katie’s plans for the winning bursary money would be to set up a community kitchen, where others could come to hold masterclasses, do prep work, train their team or receive training from Katie, from making their own ingredients for cocktails to public speaking for competitions. Katie’s passion for her industry and community was evident to our judges.


Oscar Perry

Oscar is the Bartender at Murder Inc in Soho. It was following lockdown that Oscar set his sights on joining the bartending sector, with a desire to return to socialising after losing out on valuable years during lockdown. In just 3 short years, Oscar has already accomplished a lot in his bartending journey, with his thirst for knowledge and attention to detail he is making great strides.

Our judges felt Oscar’s charisma and his passion for the industry really stood out from his application. His desire to see positive changes in the industry, to ensure fair employment benefits are accessible to all was admirable. With his obsession to make drinks engaging and accessible, whilst pushing the limits on flavour, the judges felt Oscar really cared about his guests’ experiences and his personal touches on drinks demonstrated his understanding of his craft.


Rueben Clark

Rueben is Head of Research and Development at Silverleaf bar in London. Watching a bartender in his local cocktail bar working alone and very hard to get drinks out, whilst putting on a show and entertaining his guests, funnily enough didn’t put Rueben off joining the bartending sector, but in fact ignited his desire to become a bartender.  

Our judges thought that Rueben is an incredibly talented bartender. His thirst for knowledge, as well as technical drive, have propelled him to his current role where he is able to create new drinks but also teach and guide his colleagues in their roles. Rueben really knows how to use his interpersonal skills to sell a drink to his guests, with clear and concise explanations for each chosen ingredient. Our judges were greatly impressed to see Rueben express his desire to champion women in the industry.

Congratulations to our shortlisted entrants. The winner for the IWSC’s 2024 Emerging Talent in Bartending award will be announced on Tuesday 20 February.