Bacardi Legacy: 5 most promising in Australia

legacyGreat to see Bacardi bringing their global comp to Antipodean shores, with the countries top 25 contestans being whittled down to five for a shot at glory and a trip to Mother Russia.

David Nguyen-Luu, Fred Siggins, James Irvine, Marco Nunes, and Niall Maurici were selected from the 25 shortlisted semi-finalists in a search for five incredible cocktails able to emulate the legacy of great drinks like the Original BACARDÍ Daiquiri and the Original BACARDÍ Mojito.

One of the greatest aspects of the Bacardi Legacy competition, aside from its presence in Australia and New Zealand, is the focus on creating a drink that has the potential to be a classic. While it could be all brand wank, the drinks that have won are usually simple, balanced and clean.

Like many comps these days, they’ve added a commercial element to this one. With the top five each getting $5k to market their offers, hopefully we’ll see some innovation here too. Get in before March to try them out.

Fred 1 LR

1. David Nguyen-Luu from Rockpool Bar & Grill – Perth
2. Fred Siggins from Black Pearl – Melbourne
3. James Irvine from Hinky Dinks – Sydney
4. Marco Nunes from Papa Jack’s – Brisbane
5. Niall Maurici from IXL Long Bar – Hobart

The finals are in Sydney on the 4th of March, with the winner winging his way to Moscow for the global final.



Jason Williams Beefeater 24Old news now, but finally found a half decent shot of local lad done good, Jason Williams.

You can try the drink, Werewolves of London, that has won him global acclaim at The Rook here in Sydney.

He’s won a trip to Japan next year, to learn about tea, which gives the Beefeater 24 its unique flavour and a product mention in this post.

You’d think he’d look happier about it, maybe those rumours about Gin making you depressed are true.


Awards, Competitions

This Guy is World Class

1011778_10151724959668689_760137718_nHe made great drinks, he won a hundred grand and in a few weeks time he’ll be on a mother fucking boat.

Huge congratulations to Luke Ashton on taking out the Australian finals of Diageo’s World Class tonight in Sydney. You can get a drink off him at Vasco on Cleveland St in Surry Hills, and soon at his new bar. Can’t wait!

Huge props as well to the Gourmantics, for this photo and many others, by far the fastest photo journalists in Sydney if not the world. I’ll write a feature on Luke’s dronks once the shots come through from the PR agency…



World Class food and cocktail pairings

Any of you fortunate enough not to be friends with a bartender who is taking part in Diageo’s World Class comp in any one of the feeder markets for the global extravaganza might have missed that things are getting down to the pointy end.

Australia is mid-way through choosing their winner, who travel to Europe for a cruise ship based experience of a lifetime.

Last night was the cocktail and food pairing part of the contest, with contestant drawing dishes from Black by Ezard at the Star here in Sydney.

I was judging team B, out of my culinary depth completely seated next to Adriano Zumbo and Diageo silvertongue and Crispin Glover lookalike, Scott Gross.

Each year the contest and the cocktails get better, here are two of my favourites


Trapped in that potato nest is a perfectly poached egg, and Queenslands Krystal Hart paired it with a Ketel One Citroen concoction featuring verjuice, truffle oil and a herb garden. While the chive garnish was a bit limp, it bought the dish to life.

WP_20130610_006The Ocean Trout had a lot going on, and the Ketel One Citroen, italian vermouth, cumquat and tonic. The nori and parsley garnish leapt out of the glass and took aim at the trout on the plate.

My pick was the Bulleit, Talisker and porcini pairing with the final dish, a MBS 9+ Wagyu Rumpcap. The toilet water appearance was overcome by the result of tasting food and drink together, great pairing.

As last year’s global winner, Tim Philips noted “there are nowhere near enough brown cocktails. ”

Tonight the contestants will run their own pop up bars at the Star, report to come tomorrow.


Cocktail, Competitions

Is one of these cocktails worth $100,000?


The World Class summer round  came to its conclusion  with 12 bartenders from around Australia as is fast becoming tradition, on a motherfuckin’ boat.

The overall quality of the drinks, the presentations and the event itself had stepped up from the previous year, and the addition of the American Cocktail with Bulleit Bourbon was simply the tastiest damn thing ever.

I wrote a couple of months back that Diageo have put up a hundred grand for the Australian winner this time around and you could see that the call has been answered by the bartending community with some well thought out drinks that certainly bring the brands to life in the mouths and minds of drinkers.

There were plenty of standout drinks, but this is a post about winners, and the folk who’ve done enough to be in the running for the big prize.

First up, let’s talk favourites, and mine was the Modern Love cocktail from Luke Ashton, of the Roosevelt.

The use of a unique acid (extinct Phosphoric), the ability to customise the drink in the masculine or feminine, the allusions to the perfume industry and the techniques in common with the botanical production of modern Gins like Tanqueray 10, the glassware and technique on a rocking boat were all great. I’m not sure it had the boozy hit or history that the rat pack category was meant to elicit but rolling the hint of Parfait Amour around my mouth I’m not sure it mattered.

Luke Ashton_Modern Love

Luke Ashton_Modern Love_2Next in line, Jessica Arnott from Portneo with her rockabilly twist of a drink, 1956.

A bottled cocktail and very much on trend, with a real connection to the essence of the venue she now manages, the drink comes either as a tasty Old Fashioned or optioned up with a series of upgrades. The ginger beer and dulche de leche float was a cute idea that would have shifted drinks in venue, if being a little long for my own slightly more boozy tastes. Jess has stepped it up from last year and I can’t wait to see her shine in the finals next year.

Jessica Arnott_1956 an American 2 Jessica Arnott_1956 an American

The Ron Zacapa After Dinner Drink was taken out by Christian Blair from Eau de Vie in Sydney. A gorgeous looking serve that managed to still taste of dreamy boozy goodness despite the load up with creamy additions. Christian had a good confidence behind the bar booth boatside, and it’ll be good to see him shine in the extended format at the finals.

Christian Blair_Finca La Perla Zacapacino Christian Blair_Finca La Perla Zacapacino 2

Which brings me to Krystal Hart from Canvas in Brisbane. The story behind the Beholden Martini was tight, connected to the brand but not just a retelling of the Nolet story, I’m also a sucker for a meat garnish and the pickled herring was unexpected but totally refreshing after 10 or so drinks on a less than mirror glass flat Sydney Harbour. She’s gained a lot of confidence since last year, and she’s got a creative flair that will make her a real contender come finals time.

DWC Brisbane Oct 2012DWC Brisbane Oct 2012

While the quality across the board was better than last year, I’m not sure there was a Tim Philips amongst them. That said, none of these guys have had the benefit of being exposed to the Global Finals and the knowledge of just how good the other bartenders who will be travelling (potentially to San Fran?) from their home countries for a shot at the title and the benefits it confers.

There aren’t any bad drinks at that global level, just great, really great and insanely great ones. It might have been the cash prize on offer but it seemed like the nerves were heightened at a few stations round the room. In Rio, all the competitors could stand behind an unfamiliar bar, with a  TV camera in their face and an absolute fucking bartending legend sitting in front of them, and make it feel like it was their bar, performing a comfortable, confident shtick while banging out a tasty beverage.

I’d also love to be surprised a bit more. The training program that Diageo has in place is insanely and award-winningly great, but I wonder how much the tasting notes and trainings are pulling people into a very samey set of flavour profiles in terms of end drinks, all the while using some complex and beautifully crafted spirits.


That said, the only qualifications I’ve got to make the criticism above is that I’m obsessed by great drinks and love to share stories about them. If I learn anything from being a judge at World Class, it’s how far away I am from being able to conceive and present drinks of this standard. It’s not going to stop me from trying, or accepting kind invitations to be involved either.

Also, big props to Diageo and Behind Bars for continuing to raise the bar with this competition, for opening it up to the public to be involved, for backing off the spammy social media that irked a few last year and most of all for believing enough in the creativity, passion and talent of Australian bartenders to put up 100k for one of them.

The Gourmantics have got some great photos of the consumer part of the event here.



Competitions, Event

One Hundred Million Dollars

The glow of the Australian win in Rio is still apparent in the hearts of minds of many in the industry here, despite the best efforts of Nawlins and Tales in intoxicating it out of people’s minds.

Against this heady backdrop, Diageo Reserve has come out with a massive piece of news.

The winner of World Class in 2013 will win one hundred million dollars towards building a volcano lair, complete with a tank full of sharks with lasers on their heads.  one hundred thousand dollars towards opening a venue and expert mentorship to make it a reality.

That’s for the Australian winner.


The Australian winner of World Class next year will win $100,000 towards opening a venue of their own.

The motto of World Class a couple of years back was “Raising the Bar.”

Increasingly more and more brands are offering trips, experiences and contests around the world.  A few have even offered this sort of cash at a global level but $100,000 for an Australian winner? The bar has been truly raised.

I hope I still get to be a judge…

Release follows:

Continue reading


Tim Philips is Australia’s first ever World Class bartender.

It has been an exhausting week here in Rio de Janeiro, but our boy has come good and taken the 2012 World Class title as his own.

The whispers had been building over the week; the strength of his Bill Murray Blue Label bottle serve, a standing ovation from Gaz Regan in cocktail mastery for the frankly wonderful presentation that is the Reincarnation flip and frankly diamond chat all week meant there were many who were casting an eye his way in the challenges.

It wasn’t all perfection. A failed blaze on day one shook some of the confidence from Tim, and a Ramos Gin Fizz produced beautifully but sadly sans Gin meant the decision heading across the causeway to Isla Fiscal was anything but a sure thing.

Tim is a deserving winner. He brings creativity and hospitality together in a way that will always have me visiting his bar, wherever it is. (Just quietly, he’s about to open doors on his own)

I’ll be the first to admit I whooped when his name was read out, he’s allowed the handful of Australians that made it to Rio to be a real part of his journey and we’d been talking him up proudly all week. It felt personal to the team and we’ll be celebrating tonight with him.

The win will change the course of Tim’s life in ways he’ll only now be starting to appreciate. It will mean travel and profile for him and it will mean great drinks and hilarious stories for us. I can’t wait to see how it goes.

It’s also something the whole of Australia should be proud of. Tim is a representative of an increasing strong national style. The other bartenders who took part in the Australian World Class comp and anyone in the lucky country who aspires to making a better drink will benefit from the exposure Tim’s win will bring.

I’ll be writing up the week Tim’s had in more detail, with pictures of the drinks and some of the other competitors in the coming week. Now, I think it is time for a drink. Responsibly.

Competitions, Event

Timmy Philips, for the win

It’s the last day of World Class in Rio.

Tim Philips is the talk of the comp, followed by a number of TV cameras that suggests presidential infidelity or allegations of doping.

He’s smashed out a series of amazing drinks over the course of the week. The Rum Cannonball pictured above in the Tiki Challenge, or the cricket ball leather smoked Affinity, or the frankly astounding Ressurection Flip.

It’s a long week, and the media schedule has taken it’s toll but he’s managed to stay focused and is putting in world class performances again and again. for up to the minute coverage of the final day, and the announcement later tonight.

Big thanks to Addie Chinn for this great photo too.


Johnnie Walker, in the style of Bill Murray

Tim Philips entered the World Class Global finals in Rio yesterday with a bold splash.

There cannot have been many bartenders in this level of competition who would stand in front of Peter Dorelli and admit to having no idea about the drink he was about to make, and no conception of the flavours it would exhibit.

It was all an elaborate ruse however. Tim’s drink was an interactive experience, inspired by the chancy life of Bill Murray.

The judges rolled dice, picked a poker chip from a bag, and spun the key of fortune to discern their exact drink out of an astonishing 216 possible combinations offered up by six bitters, nine syrups and four infused ices.

The drink was stunning, the chat platinum. I believe that is what you call a good start.

Competitions, Event

Holy fucking shit.

Apparently, you can go home again.

Cocktail World Cup is coming up once again.Talk to anyone who’s been, to compete or otherwise and they’ll tell you about a rollocking good time, bookended by equal parts of gut wrenching fear and Fergburgers.

The global cocktail contest is oft copied these days, but everyone agrees that the CWC, with bungy jumping, helicopters and jetboats is an all round good time.

Each annual edition has teams from round the world, rounded up to compete as nations in teams. This year however, there will be a Startender team, open only to those who have attended before.

Think of it, a chance to right old wrongs, relive past glories and maybe even find that last shred of dignity you left, hanging upside down in the rafters of Bar Up.


This guy is World Class. Again.

The results are in and once again Tim Philips has come out on the top of the pile in Diageo’s World Class competition.

He’s holding the beetroot he used to stain his Sesa-Who, Sesa-me Sour at Sokyo for the food pairing.

Big love to Angus Burton and Dr Phil, taking out second and third places respectively.

The quality was amazing this year and the drinks were tasty as anything.

More photos and stories to come.


Cocktail, Competitions

Shot Bro.

Great example of how to style a shot of a great looking drink from the Team at Club Suntory at Cruise bar on the 8th of May.

There are some other great shots of the day on their facebook page here, but for my money, the photo above is the best I’ve seen out of Australia this year.

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to really drink the photo in.

The Royal Disaronno Diamond

by Adam Smith

Glass -Collins
Garnish – Apple fan
Method – Dry shake, then shake with ice double strain into a collins (no ice) and top with apple cider
Ingredients –
40ml Disaronno
15ml Remy Martin VSOP
20ml Magners Original Irish Cider
20ml cloudy apple Juice
1 bar spoon of brown sugar
1 whole egg

Here’s the whole lowdown on what was going on:

Stylish Italian drinks icon Disaronno is proud to announce Joel Hodge, bartender at The Goldfish Hunter Valley, is Australia’s Disaronno Mixing Star!  Each year, from Milan to Moscow and New York to LA, Disaronno scours the globe in the search for the world’s finest cocktail bartenders as part of their Disaronno Mixing Star competition.

Australia accepted the challenge in 2012 for the second time, as Disaronno) put the word out to all aspiring bar stars around the country. 

Scores of brilliant concoctions were tasted and judged, culling the impressive field of over 170 entries down to just 15 finalists – including some of the nation’s finest bartending talent. In true star style, the chosen competitors were flown to Sydney, chauffeured in limousines and indulged with VIP treatment. Last Tuesday May 8th, saw the challengers assemble on Sydney’s spectacular Circular Quay at the renowned Cruise Bar, the top floor of which was kitted out as a full production set. 

After complete make-up styling for the cameras, each finalist was tasked with producing both a single serving of the classic Disaronno Sour, as well as four identical servings of their original Disaronno cocktail. On hand with the pleasant but taxing task of deciding on a winner was the judging panel: from Milan, Disaronno Commercial Director Nicola Bini, Sun Herald Journalist Amy Cooper and Club Suntory’s Nigel Weisbaum. Each of the 15 finalists and their drinks were assessed on presentation, technique – and of course taste – before the judges got to deliberating on their final verdict. 

This competition has always discovered new talent, so for some of the finalist this was their first national cocktail competition, whilst the standard of the more experienced bartenders was extremely high. All the entries were a testament to the creativity of Australian bartenders. Continuing with their VIP treatment, the finalists were treated to a luxury Italian dinner in the private dining room of two hat Woollahra restaurant; LaScala. 
Nicola Bini commented “never before have we had such a difficult time in deciding was the winner of a national comp, the quality this year was exceptional”

The winner of the competition has an infectious story of his own. Joel Hodge from The Goldfish Hunter Valley had never even been to Sydney, let alone competed in a national cocktail comp. Now Joel will be off to Berlin to compete in the Global final in Berlin in July, and the possibility of appearing in a Bollywood production in India if he takes out the Global final! I’m sure you’d agree both destinations are a far cry from The Hunter Valley!!

As expected Joel was very emotional with his win, dedicating the drink to his Great Grandmother who was an avid Disaronno fan for many years. Joel also presented his drink in crystal glassware that belonged to his late Great Grandmother. 

2nd place was awarded to Joe Singara from Luxe Bar, Perth and 3rd place was Anita Strother from Malt Bar in Brisbane.


42 Below is at it again

Have you ever wondered what might have happened if the Germans had won in WWII and the Emerald Isles had effective policing, beer you can see through and German accented teaching thrust upon them?

Wonder no more, as James Sugarfoot Goggin has perfected the Irish German accent and has taken it out for a spin in this call to arms for New Zealand bartenders to join the Cocktail World Cup and give the country more than just a gold plated rugby trophy to crow about.



It’s a Global Rematch, Beeyatch.

The hallmark of most cocktail competitions are style, quality and service. The effortless (looking) production of a few great drinks in a not too difficult window of time, a quick photo with the primary spirit in the background for the brand owners who have sponsored the competition as the other entrants watch on in respectful silence.

Rematch however, is different. Run by bartenders with not brand sponsporship, this contest is about comedy drink, vicious sledging and the person that can throw together a passable round in the shortest possible time.

It’s been running around the world for a few years now, but tomorrow will be the first global rematch, with countries around the world holding comps, getting rowdy and trying to take the world record away from Australia.

That’s right, Australia holds some world records that don’t require lycra or the shaving of all body hair to get the advantage. This is also one time when a man can be rightly proud of coming first in a couple of minutes.

Here’s what they say about themselves:

On Monday, May 14th, begins the largest global cocktail event in history. Approximately 200+ bartenders from around the world will compete in an unprecedented competition where only one winner is decided. The deciding factor is speed. It’s the one thing, that at one point (or several) in our career, we all measured who was best. Speed meant you got to keep your job. Speed meant you got to pay… your bills. Speed meant you got to survive and fight another day. If you were not fast, you did not belong.

This event is completely unsponsored. It was done through a network of like-minded individuals. People around the world have donated their time, venues and products. Bartenders, Brand Ambassadors, Owners, Writers and others have worked together to see this through. I do not think there has ever been a time where all of us came together to work on one specific event. Many have looked past money and personal gains. We have helped organize this event because honestly it would be cool to be in a room full of people you either love, respect (or secretly hate) and see them presented with a round of cocktails that is utterly ridiculous and see them make what is probably the worst set of drinks in their careers.

Global Rematch Beeyatch Sydney will be held at Pelicano, 28 Bay St, Double Bay on Monday 14th May kicking off at 6pm. Sydney’s finest will be going head to head with the world record holder, Luke Reddington getting pumped to defend his title and to set a new world record.  As always from The Colada Club, great times, fat beats and liquid treats are to be had so come down and support the fastest booze slingers down under!

Entry is a donation on the door. Probably best to wear something that can go through the heavily soiled cycle on your average modern washing machine.

I’ll see you there.

Competitions, Event

Who’s keen for a World Class Sunday?

Each year, Diageo spend a lot of time, money and effort finding a World Class Bartender to represent Australia at take a shot at taking out the global crown. It’s a phenomenal event, packed full of talent and full to the brim with crazy good drinks. Check out the video above of last years finals for an idea of what it all entails.

It all kicks of with the summer round.

There are three categories: Gentleman’s Drinks (think boozy, perfectly balanced seriousness – the kind of thing Don Draper would be into,) Punch (big-bowled fun for the whole family and possibly the most resurgent cocktail category last year,) and Seasonal (The best of what’s fresh local and showcasing an Australian Summer, you can guarantee then, that they’ll all start wet and finish dry. Pretty much whatever your preference, you’ll find something delicious.

The finalists for the summer round are:

Jason Williams, theloft, Sydney
Collin Perillo, Zeta, Sydney
Phil Gandevia, Eau de Vie, Sydney
Thiago Santos, theloft, Sydney
Sarah Miller, I Know a Place, Melbourne
Perryn Collier, The Laneway, Brisbane
Adam Smith, Press Club, Brisbane
Anita Strother, Malt Dining, Brisbane
Fred Siggins, Kodiak Club, Melbourne

So, how does an afternoon (next Sunday, the 22nd) in a glass box on Sydney Harbour, filled with beautiful people, eight of the country’s best bartenders and Jason Williams sound?

Tickets are $65 over at Moshtix. It’s on a motherfucking boat, so space is limited – book yours now!

Sunday 22nd January, 3-6pm. You get to try the 9 drinks, plus some snacks.

I’ll see you there.


Rematch Beeyatch

Many of you might think that bartenders are a bunch of moustachioed, tatooed, flat cap wearing tip hounds. You might even believe that they are allergic to sunlight and claw and hiss at you when encountered beyond the safety of three feet of wood.

It’s no my place to say whether that’s true or not, but if you’d like to go to where the wild things are and see for yourself, head down to The Standard on Sunday to watch them hoot, holler and mix up a storm. I’ll take no responsibility whatsoever if you kick on to the afterparty at LoFi.


The Michael Schumacher of Australian Bartending. Tim D Philips.

Spirits aficionado and shirt garter champion, Tim D Philips

Is Tim Philips the best bartender in the lucky country?

The answer to that question is emphatically NO.

This is largely because he is in Thailand this week, drinking vintage Champagne, celebrating a wedding and using the powers bestowed on him as Bartender of the Year to perform feats of magic and intrigue, like changing people’s birthdays.

Despite his geographic challenges this week, Philips is being tipped by many to add to his World Class and Bartender Magazine honours at the upcoming ALIA’s as well.

His is the story of an Aussie battler, who has seen the world and come back home to mark his mark. Well, at least that’s how I’m writing it, by any means. It’s a tale that begins in the inclement city the rest of the world knows as Melbourne.

Like many of Australia’s top talent, Philip’s has a history that includes the Black Pearl and a trip abroad. Milk & Honey in London, a CLASS Bartender of the Year award and a stint in the lofty climes of Chamonix have all honed this man’s talent and approach to making the best drinks experience possible.

Tim D Philips raises his trophy and salutes his kin

The Philip’s family mantelpiece must be beginning to look a little crowded these days, with accolades piling up as this man brings his triple threat bartendering style to bear on both contests and the Australian drinking public.

First of all, this is a man who knows how to turn out a great drink. In terms of both product knowledge and cold, hard technique behind the bar he is a pleasure to watch and even better when the drink he is making gets handed to you.

Secondly, he is a man with platinum chat. Tim can put you at ease, extract your order and bring a smile to even the weariest of faces. Having great chat separates the good from the great, and this man can put the pressure of a contest aside to deliver a stellar performance, be it in front of industry legends in India, or yours truly in the Barshow green room (only slightly less glamorous.)

The third leg of his triple threat is creativity. From Campari fairy floss and edible dirt at World Class, to his work with live animals at the Barshow finals, this x factor just can’t help but shine through.

Philips is not without competition at the top end of Australian bartending by any means. LPC and Chirs Hysted (pictured below) took out the second and third places in this years Bartender Magazine awards. They both bring the triple threat, fashioned in their own indisputable styles to bear in any competitive situation, and their are again a cohort behind them, being inspired to make great drinks and deliver true hospitality.

It is exciting times with guys like this setting the standard.

Tim can be found, either through membership, a well placed bribe or perhaps just some honest outreach at Ivy’s level 6. Any of you who enjoy the simple pleassure of setting up at a bar to experience great drinks and a fantastic time would be well advised to seek out this hidden jewel.

You can also read Tim’s blog, for some unfiltered insight into life behind the stick served at cask strength, or pick up a Maxim magazine, where he also writes.

Awards, Competitions

There can be only one. Down to eleven in the search for Australia’s bartender of the year.

This morning there were twenty, only ten eleven now remain.

They are Jess Arnott, Tim Philips, Chris Hysted, Kal Moore, Luke Redington, James Connolly, Nathan Beasley, Perryn Collier, Brendan Osmers, Adam Smith & Lee Potter Cavanagh.

The finals will be held from 10.30am at the BarShow at Horden Pavillion. The winner will be announced at the Bar Awards tomorrow night, stay tuned for an update.



Cocktail, Competitions

Coney Island Bartender Bumfight


Hell week kicks off next week with the Bartender Bumfight. Essentially it’s a speed and knowledge fest, where local bar teams duke it out head to head making drinks against the clock. It is sure to be a truly epic evening, I’ll be sitting at the bar, laughing my ass off and trying to remember I’m actually there to be a judge.

Teams of two draw eight drinks, points are awarded for pretty much anything, and are deducted at a rate of one point for every 15 seconds you finish behind your opponents. It is set to be a night of diamond encrusted chat.

Event details can be found on facebook.

Entrants thus far:

  • Eau de Vie (NSW) – Luke Reddington & Max Greco (Defending Champions)
  • Black Pearl (VIC) – Chris Hysted & Rob Libecans
  • Canvas (QLD) – Krystal Hart & Kal Moore
  • Hemmesphere (NSW) – Hamish Mcshane & Tom Bulmer
  • Team NZ Suite Bar Auckland – James Goggin & Barney Toy
  • The Victoria Room (NSW) – Jessica Arnott & Maximillian Gurtler
  • Team WA – James Connolly (Defectors) & Benjamin Tua (Mint)
  • Team WA2 – Simon Hough (Luxe Bar) & Lloyd Smith (Clarences)
  • Team VIC – Lou Dare (The Alchemist) & Merlin Jerebine (Chez Regine)
  • Hugo’s Bar Pizza (NSW) – Natalie Ng & Stuart Morrow

The drinks they’ll be drawing for the first round:

  1. Tommy’s Margarita (Julio Bermejo of Tommy’s)
  2. Paloma (Squirt!)
  3. Batanga (La Capilla)
  4.  Bobby Burns (Old Waldorf Astoria)
  5. Penicilin (Sam Ross, M&H)
  6. Trilby (Savoy)
  7. Pan American Clipper (The Gentleman’s Companion)
  8. The Widow’s Kiss (Modern American Drinks via Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails)
  9. Daiquiri Floridita (El Grande Constante)
  10. El Presidente (Eddie Woelke, Jockey Club, Havana)
  11. Scorpion (Trader Vic)
  12. Bolero (Bolero was also the name of the 1984 movie starring Bo Derek that was dubbed the “Hottest Erotic Film of the Century” hmmmmm.)
  13. Knickerbocker (Tha OG JT)
  14. Planter’s Punch (Maybe one of the ten recipes from The Gentleman’s Companion, then again maybe not…)
  15. Brown Derby (Douglas Fairbanks, Vendome Club, Hollywood)
  16. Mint Julep (Really?)
  17. Stone Fence (See above.)
  18. Corpse Reviver no. 2 (Savoy)
  19. Pegu Club (Barflies and Cocktails)
  20. Suffering Bastard (Joe Scialom, Long Bar at Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo)


Cocktail, Competitions

Don’t tell anyone, but it looks like Tim Philips is World Class.

Last week saw a three day contest of cocktails play out.

Mastery was tested and classics given a twist in a vacant, wintry Zeta.

Drinks were paired with some of the finest food to be had in Sydney at Rockpool, and almost uniformly garnished with dill.

Speed & taste played out at Victoria Room, and a minutes walk away at Eau de Vie, knowledge and execution of the classics rounded out the tests. World Class Australia has wrapped.

I was lucky enough to be involved across the few days, and there were a few things that stood out.

Firstly, the state of Australian bartending is excellent. Exposure to the movement that has been gaining momentum around the globe these last few years has come in the form of the Australian birthright of an OE, an ever increasing body of work online and in print, the investment by the liquor giants in expansive training programs and the small bar movement that has real momentum around the country, far beyond its spiritual home tucked down the lanes of Melbourne.

Exposure was manifest in the talent on show last week. Whether from Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney or WA, every single person behind the stick showed passion and ability that augers good things for the Australian bar industry and any punter wanting a properly good drink.

Secondly, there are few things as dangerous and as beautiful as shots of Jose Cuervo Platino flowing down a custom luge of ice.

Thirdly, it’s no longer the domain of just one person at the top of each comp. Second and third went to Dr Phil from Eau de Vie and Marco Nuñez from Canvas in Brisbane respectively. Phil is a brilliantly nerdy Wondrich-in-waiting, reading and researching voraciously while stirring up possibly the best half and half martini I have had in my my life. Marco brings undeniable charm and an energetic Latin flair that negates any need for tossed bottles, his drinks are epic too.

I’m sure the rest weren’t very many marks behind, there were standout drinks from all quarters. I’ll post some more of them as the photos trickle in.

Fourthly, I should not be left in charge of a bottle of Zacapa XO, ever. It will be as though it never existed, I will make no apologies.

Lastly, as they say in the Highlander, there can be only one. This time, that one is Tim Philips. ex Milk & Honey, ex Black Pearl, ex UK Bartender of the year, current flatmate of Robb Sloan and bartender at level 6 at the Ivy. Tim is a class act, attentive and outgoing behind and in front of the bar. Knowledgeable to a fault and in possession of a wickedly sharp sense of humour, visible in part over at his blog, drinktheshitoutofit. I wait in vain for him to start releasing instructional videos.

This one time Melburnian will now fly to the wonderfully vibrant country that is India to take place in the global contest to crown a new World Class bartender. The winner gets accolades, a book deal and plenty more. Best of luck Tim, I really hope you win.

At least maybe now people will stop spelling your name with two L’s.

Cocktail, Competitions

Cocktails and Properly Fucking Amazing Food at Rockpool

There’s a lot of talk going on round the world about matching cocktails with food.

Often this ends up playing out in a pretty mediocre way, but next week on Tuesday night, well things are going to be World Class.

Diageo’s flagship contest will play out on the floor of Rockpool, with a five course degustation matched with cocktails from the top 10 bartenders in the Lucky Country. Oh, and I’m a judge.

Tix are $185 each with 5 cocktails.

Tickets can be found at either of these places:

from the Rockpool blog:

or the World Class facebook page:

Book now, lest ye be disappointed.

Cocktail, Competitions

A Modern Classic

I wrote a couple of weeks back about the True Originals campaign from Bacardi and the Global Legacy Cocktail Competition that hung off the back of it.

Well, the first contest has wrapped in Barcelona and the gorgeous looking drink in the photo above is the winning drink. It’s a rethink of the Ramos Gin Fizz, swapping gin for rum and orange blossom water for something deliciously herbal and made by monks.

Marco’s Bacardi Fizz
by Marc Bonneton

50ml Bacardi Superior rum
40ml Cream
15ml Green Chartreuse
15ml Lemon Juice
15ml Lime Juice
15ml Simple Syrup
1 egg white
Top with soda water
Mint sprig for garnish

Dry-shake the egg white in a shaker with no ice, then add all the other ingredients and ice and shake for a long time to emulsify to egg white and the cream. Fine-strain into a tall glass and top with soda water. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Hat Tip Camper English at Alcademics, who actually was on the ground in Spain watching it all unfold.

Cocktail, Competitions, Sydney

Drinking with Gentlemen

Diageo’s World Class program seems to be going from strength to strength this year, and I’m not just saying that because I keep getting asked to judge the NSW rounds‡. The contest asks bartenders from across the country, or at least the Eastern seaboard, to create a excellent cocktail featuring a spirit from Diageo’s Reserve range. Points are attributed for recipe and efforts in marketing the drink, both in venue and on the slightly more new fangled social medias. 10 are then chosen to take part in state finals, where bartenders are judged by the other nine to decide a top three who will face the esteemed panel of judges.

It should also be noted that points in World Class are not only awarded for the quality of the drink, the innovation of the recipe and skill of its production. The Reserve range are all tasty products alone in a glass, as such the contest rewards those who feature and improve the natural state of the spirits. A great way to think about making any drink, in my opinion, at least.

The final round of this years comp was the gentleman’s round, where contestants were asked to feature either the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, the Ron Zacapa Solera 23 or the slightly shorter named Talisker 10. The event itself was held at Tokonoma, to coincide with the launch of their own Diageo Reserve cocktail list, of which I stole a copy and will expound on in greater detail in another post.

The three who made it through to the final round were all gentlemen; Tim Philips from the bar no one can go to, Luke Reddington for the bar that always wins and Luke Ashton from a bar upstairs from another bar. It should not however be construed that only a Gentleman could win, as evidenced by the success of Krystal Hart from Canvas in the QLD round (more on that from Simon McGoram, over here)

The drinks they made were epic. Luke Ashton channeled a snake oil salesman with gentrified, clarified, with not all ingredients specified elixir, served up in custom printed vials too boot. Luke Reddington used the most exquisite collection of equipment to make his drink, and gave me my first ever quail’s egg flip. Tim Philips also bought quail’s egg to the party and promptly covered his shirt and much of the Tokonoma Bar with his emulsion in perhaps the most incredibly epic fail I have ever witnessed behind a bar, contest situation or no. To his enduring credit, he rallied. Cracking three more quail eggs, and whipping out his Autumnal flip again with a suitably epic poem, producing the winning drink and earning a place in the national final next month. 

Pictures and recipes below. 
Royal Autumnal Flip from Tim Phil(l)ips from Level 6 at the Ivy

Ingredients & Quantities: .5 Fresh Fig (or Tbsp Homemade Fig conserve if unavailable,) 10ml Lemon Juice, 40ml Talisker 10, 30ml Zacapa Honey Liq. (Homemade,) 1 Whole fresh quails egg

Method, Glassware & Garnish: Add all ingredients, dry shake, then shake. Serve up and garnish with atomizer sprays of ‘Zacapa Cinna-man Eau de parfum’

The Foppish flip from Luke Reddington at Eau de Vie

Ingredients & Quantities: 40ml Johnnie walker gold, 20ml Lairds bonded apple jack, Half a barspoon of branca menta, 15ml of maple & champagne reduction1 whole quail’s egg

Method, Glassware & Garnish: Add all ingredients with ice and shake. Strain into a refined gentlemans glass and garnish with a dusting of nutmeg & a spot of fanfare
Ashtons Elixir No. 23 from Luke Ashton at The Duke

Ingredients & Quantities : 45ml Ron Zacapa 23, 10ml Amaro Ramazotti, 4 dashes homemade ‘Muddy Moonshine Stomach Bitters’

Method, Glassware & Garnish: Combine all ingredients in chilled mixing glass and chill and dilute with large ice cube. Orange twist into the glass (dropping orange twist into glass) Strain drink into frozen miniature labeled bottles, No garnish

‡Just kidding, i love the fact I get to judge cocktail contests. Can’t wait for nationals….

Competitions, Uncategorized

Advance Australia Fair

What a great couple of weeks for Australian bartenders!

First, Daniel Gregory took out the Bols Global Cocktail Masters, and possession of perhaps the world’s most tropical trophy with his Highway 75.

The Highway 75

50ml Bols Genever
20ml Bols White Creme de Cacao
15ml Passionfruit Juice
10ml Fee Brother Grenadine
4 drops Orange Blossom Water infused with dried Lavender

Add all ingredients to a vintage cocktail shaker and shake hard. Strain into a chilled coupette. Garnish with a lemon twist and vanilla macaroon on the side.

Next, Andy Griffiths took out the Angostura Trophy in Trinidad. (that’s him on the left)

Rumour has it he got one of the girls out of her bikini and is now wearing it himself, partying down Carnival style in Trinidad.

A truly great result for the land of Oz and hopefully a precursor to more global wins.


This may not end well

They say it is a fine line between genius and insanity.

It appears that the team at 42 Below have dressed as jesters and are whirling like dervishes over both sides of that line as they gear up for Cocktail World Cup next week.

The latest announcement to roll out of this eagerly awaited contest is the attendance of not one but two Playboy Playmates at the event. They’ll be covering things for the Playboy website, and filing daily video reports. They’ll also be fighting off the attention and advances of contestants, locals and the male populations of Southland and Otago.

Ashley Hobbs and Jordan Monroe sound eager to arrive all the same:

“I’m very excited to represent Playboy at the 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup. I’ve never been to New Zealand, so not only am I looking forward to watching the best bartenders in the world compete, and can’t wait to take in the sights of this beautiful country. Oh, and go Team USA!” Ashley Hobbs, Miss December 2010

“Bungee jumping, speed boats, winery and food paring challenges? I don’t know of a more unique cocktail competition, which is why I’m really excited to be heading to New Zealand to help capture this amazing experience for Playboy.” Jordan Monroe, Miss October 2006

For all of those being whipped into a frenzy by this news, I’d suggest the second stop, after a Google image search with SafeSearch turned off, should be for a ticket to the final event under the big top, and your only realistic chance of getting within ten feet of these lovely ladies. All proceeds from the event are going the the Christchurch Earthquake Relief Fund.

The contest kicks off next week.



Carnival Spectacularrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

It’s that time again, 42BELOW is gearing up around the world to fly bartenders from the four corners of this blue green globe to compete in the Cocktail world Cup and become totally and utterly indoctrinated by the New Zealand experience and it’s most famous no0n agricultural export, 42BELOW vodka.

“The 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup is our signature event and our way of celebrating the superstars of our trade. We are working hard to make sure that 7th time around it will be more extreme and more outrageous than ever before” says 42BELOW Marketing Director Dion Nash.

Thus far, I have heard stories about fantastic dress up parties, a woman who can contort herself into a box and holds the world record for passing through an unstrung tennis racket in a minute, and I’m pretty sure the number was in the double digits. I would absolutely encourage you to try this at home to get a real idea of exactly what that feat entails. My own current pb is hovering around ¼.

Selection is underway right around the worlds, so contact your local Bacardi ambassador and inquire why you haven’t been made aware of one of the regional finals. It is an epic week, which if you survive will standout from pretty much any other contest out there. Continue reading

Cocktail, Competitions

Summer 2011 looks World Class in Australia

It’s easy to get stuck in a funk about the Australian summer this year. When there aren’t flood waters tearing through houses and livelihoods in four of the seven states, there is a super cyclone spinning its merry way down to rest atop the lucky country. It’s enough to make you feel like a drink.

Luckily, the Seasonal Summer Cocktail round of Diageo’s World Class has just come to an end. I thought I’d share the winning recipes and question just how much gay abandon is being shared between Sydney and Melbourne, when two drinks turn up and win with the Bloomsbury Moniker?

Anyway, let’s start with the recipes:

Luke Reddington, from Eau de Vie in Sydney placed first with his bogus beery bluffer.

‘Bloomsbury Bitter

40ml Tanqueray No. TEN
10ml Amaro
10ml Yellow Chartreuse
30ml White Grapefruit Juice
30ml ‘Beer’ syrup
Egg white


Shake, strain into a mini beer mug, top with soda.
Grapefruit zest oils and dandelion bitters on top

Chris Hysted, from the Black Pearl in Melbourne took out the Southern honours with his Joycian cooler.

‘Bloomsbury Cooler’


60ml Tanqueray No. TEN
15ml Greenbottle Elderflower Cordial
10ml Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
top w/ 90ml Carbonated Pineapple & Coconut Infused Green Tea


Build in Vintage Stemmed Fizz Glass
Stir Briefly over hand cut ice
Top w/ Carbonated Pineapple & Coconut Infused Green Tea
Garnish with a Curled Banana Leaf

Chris Denman, from Kerbside in Brisbane floated to the top with his tasty punch.

‘Aristocrats Punch’


180ml Tanqueray No. TEN
60ml Amaro Montenegro
60ml Agave nectar
60ml lemon juice
180ml Pink Grapefruit Juice
240ml Sparkling Mineral Water
8 dashes cherry and Chamomile bitters
4 cherries
4 barspoons caster sugar
The peel of one orange


Muddle Cherries, Orange peel, caster sugar, lemon juice, bitters and agave nectar together in the bottom of a Punch Bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix until there is no residue on bottom of the bowl. Fill punch bowl with Ice until approximately 1 inch from the top of the bowl. Mix with bar spoon again. Serve with ladle, on a tray, alongside 4 tea cups with an orange twist and cherry in each cup. Find 3 friends and enjoy.

Delicious drinks gentlemen. Can’t wait to make my comeback as a judge for the next Sydney round…

Competitions, Unusual Martinis

World Class: Erik Lorincz

Diageo’s World Class Competition unfolds a few times a year in Australia. In State Capitals around the country; shakers, stirrers, barmen (& women) and even the odd mixologist bring their A game and a great cocktail for a chance to pit their skills, share their knowledge and not inconsiderable banter and win a spot in the Australian finals and a chance at going to the Worlds.

Earlier in the week I was lucky enough to get some insight into the World Class finals from the 2010 winner, Eric Lorincz.

From its grassroots in each of the 3o something countries now a part of the global contest, the level of competition at each stage increases. The camaraderie between the contestants remains constant, but the judges especially elevates from the amateur enthusiast to the global elite. Peter Dorelli, Gary Regan, Hidetsugu Ueno, Dale DeGroff, Salvatore Calabrese & Alberto Soria judged the final six rounds.

“What’s most impressive about Diageo World Class is how every aspect of the craft of bartending is tested by the challenges and judges. You need to be creative, thorough and skilled – it’s daunting… These 21st Century bartenders are the pioneers of a new golden age of the craft,” said DeGroff.

Erik is every inch World Class, from his winning smile, to his expert handling of the journalists and their questions, through to the signature long pour on his Tanq 10 martini (which better aerates the beverage) not to mention the finickity approach to zesting the drink so only the lighter aromatics flavour the drink.

The contest has obviously been a big step up for the young man, Peter Dorelli has hired him to front the American Bar at the Savoy in London, which is where you’ll have to go if you want a long poured martini of your own.

I wonder how long it will be until the best in the world come to Australia. My money is on pretty soon…

Cocktail, Competitions, November is Tequila Month

World Class in Sydney, Tequila Round; I’m a mothercussin’ judge.

Perhaps the most prolific series of competitions both in Australia and around the globe, World Class really seems to set the bar in terms of rigor and creativity for those who have chosen life behind the stick as their primary career destination.

It was with more than a little surprise I agreed to fill in one of the judging sheets at the Sydney leg of the finals for the Sangrita Ritual round. Bottles arriving on my doorstep for review were just the beginning. I’m ready for a new career as a cocktailing judge. I’m already designing the business cards.

Industry heavyweights prepare for their judging duties. I try and look like I fit in.

The ten finalists had been whittled down to three by the time I arrived.  While preparations were being made for the formal part of the evening, I got reacquainted with my good friends Dave Spanton, Phil Bayly, Ambassador Josh and Don Julio 1946.  It seemed as though there was a hole in the bottle, and soon we were looking for a second and then it was time to head upstairs and get underway.

First up was Elle Wormald, from Eau de Vie. She had chosen the Jose Cuervo Platino as the basis of her Sangrita ritual. The tequila’s which make up the Reserve portfolio all exhibit complex flavor profiles outside of the traditional throaty burn the spirit holds in the mind of many consumers. One of the roles of the Sangrita ritual is to educate the consumer and help them appreciate that taste profile.

Eschewing the traditional shot of spiced or herbed liquid as an accompaniment, Elle set her four Sangrita flavours in jelly blocks. The red and green performed the “expected” role of sangrita, opening up the tequila with spicy flavours. The third block accentuated the chocolate tones in the Platino. The last flavour was the standout for me, aloe, which I used to consume to rectify a hangover while I was living up in China. It cools and cleans the palate, and hinted at the earthy agave flavours at the core of the product.

It was delicious. Like grown up jelly shooters.

Next came Reece, from the Victoria Room. Choosing the Don Julio Reposado with a Sangrita two ways.  Reece delivered a spicy counterpoint to the tequila that worked very well. The second serve of Sangrita came in an iceblock. While the technique was great fun and certainly changed the profile of the Sangrita, pulling out some of the body and upping the kick the chillies carried through, sadly the iciness carried away much of the ability to appreciate the tequila itself.

The handsome goblets and the larger than average serve were very much appreciated too.

And finally, Dr Phil, also from Eau de Vie.  Phil chose Don Julio 1942, a beautifully bottled anejo tequila produced in honour of the man and his life’s work making fine tequila.

The four stage Sangrita ritual began with a shot of water, with lime and salt. It acted as a palate cleanser, and as a subtle nod toward the fact that the “Mexican Itch” pretty much removes any ability to taste the tequila at all. Spicy pomegranate, rich kiwifruit and decadent chocolate, each with a small nibbling accompaniment followed. Each was complex and tasty, peeling back the layers of the subtle 1946.

It was, as they say, as if there was a party in my mouth, and everyone was invited.

Phil has promised me his recipes, so hopefully this will jog his memory.

This is harder than it looks. There is no spitting at a tequila contest…

Ok, so maybe it’s not that hard. but damn, it sure was fun.

Winners are grinners. Here’s Phil, the perfect example of both.