Competitions, Event

I went out the other night and it was World Class.

World Class has wrapped in Australia, as I mentioned in my last post, with Adam Brewer taking the ticket to fly to Greece and perform in the finals.

This competition takes the Diageo Reserve portfolio and tasks the contestants in making drinks that feature the products flavours and provenance. The cocktails produced are the things my dreams are made of, tasty expositions that extend the flavour profiles, challenge the palate and most definitely balanced but booze forward.

The portfolio itself features many stars; Tanqueray 10, Ron Zacapa, Pampero, Don Julio 1942, Cuervo’s new Reserva de Familia, Johnnie Walker Blue, Talisker, Lagavulin, Dalwhinnie, Cragganmore.

The awards ceremony at a private house last night was magic. Food matches, fine drinks, and blazers on the terrace to finish.

Truly World Class.

Competitions, Event

World Class Results

Adam Brewer of Brisbane’s Sling Lounge is going to Greece, after pipping last year’s winner Adi Ruiz of The Black Pearl to take the honours at last night’s Diageo World Class finals.

Click on the link above, if you’ve got a spare twenty minutes, and read through the epic 67 page cocktail list, it contains 266 cocktails, plenty of mistakes and a host of contradictions. I’d heard Brisbane needs education on the cocktail scene, but this seems a little ridiculous.

I’ll write more on the event last night once I’ve got some images to go with it.

Cocktail, Event, Melbourne, Sydney

World Cocktail Week.

On the 13th of May, 1806, the word cocktail was first defined in print. The paper that printed the word was called The Balance, and Columbia Repository. It was volume V if you’re interested. The truly passionate amongst you might even want to jump on Google books and read the original here. The word appears on both page 142 and 146.

This little word has employed a lot of people, and intoxicated even more. It is in that spirit that people gather for a weeks worth of festivities around this most important day in the mixocoligcal calendar to mix, pour, shake, learn and most importantly imbibe!

It is a happy event for Australia this year, with more than a few bars getting in on the action. Here’s what I’m aware of thus far, I’m happy for people to add stuff in the comments if there are one’s I’ve missed.

I’ll be at Eau de Vie on Thursday for sure.

Monday May 10th

Eau de Vie – Classic Vintage

Eau-de-Vie opens the spirit cabinets, offering great classics made with rare and hard-to-find spirits from the house collection.

7pm-9pm, $80pp (Includes food & 4 Cocktails)

On facebook, or call Barry on 9357 2470

Tuesday May 11th

Eau de Vie -5 Cocktails Every Man Should Know

6pm-8pm, $ 75pp (includes food & 5 cocktails)

Hosted by The Dr & Sven Almenning

Eau de Vie, Private Whisky Room.

On facebook, or call Barry on 9357 2470

The Den – Vintage Cocktail Night

Merivale head mixologist Mikey Enright and Mixxit mixologist Jason Crawley, will host four veteran bartenders, Ben Davidson, Dylan Howarth, Simon McGoram and Marco Farone to mix vintage cocktails in The Den.

$70pp includes cocktails and canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Hemmesphere – Tequila Masterclass

Brown Forman’s brand ambassador Shae Silvesto and Hemmesphere’s very own hombre, Sebastian Derbomez, take guests through the history of Tequila before hosting Tequila tastings and demonstrating three Tequila cocktails, including the classic Margarita. Ole!  

$65pp includes 3 cocktails & canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

The Den – Vintage Cocktail Night

Merivale head mixologist Mikey Enright and Mixxit mixologist Jason Crawley, will host four veteran bartenders, Ben Davidson, Dylan Howarth, Simon McGoram and Marco Farone to mix vintage cocktails in The Den.

$70pp includes cocktails and canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Wednesday May 12th

Eau de Vie – Cocktail Degustation Evening

Enjoy 4 sublime cocktail and food pairings

7pm-9pm $ 85pp (includes food & 4 cocktails)

Hosted by Elle Wormald & Maximillian Greco

On facebook, or call Barry on 9357 2470

Hemmesphere – Gin Masterclass

Learn more about those obscure juniper berries when gin specialist Ben Davidson and Gin Garden mixologist Paul Mott discuss the history of gin, host top-shelf gin tastings and show guests how to shake up three classic gin cocktails.  

$65pp includes 3 cocktails & canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Sand Bar & Slip Inn – Bourbon Masterclass

Take a trip through the Kentucky cornfields as  Beam Global’s bourbon specialist, Jarred Plummer, talks about the USA’s most famous spirit and its history. He’ll also demonstrate how to make the most of bourbon, sharing some of his favourite bourbon cocktail recipes.

$65pp includes 3 cocktails & canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Tiki Cocktail class

Learn to master tropical cocktails served in pineapples or coconuts as Nick Van ‘Tiki’ Tiel – a seasoned Tiki specialist and Reserve’s brand ambassador – and Mikey Enright talk through the history Polynesian pop culture and demonstrate how to make the perfect Pina Colada, Mai Tai and Zombie.  Each student will have the opportunity to make a Tiki classic cocktail and the winning cocktail will take home a Tiki Drink set.

$70 includes 3 cocktails including and canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Thursday May 13th

Eau de Vie – Martini Masterclass

A look at the development of this enigmatic drink, the styles, history & how it is made today.

7pm-9pm $ 75pp (Includes food & 5 martinis)

Hosted by Barry Chalmers & Nick Fury

Eau de Vie, Private Whisky Room.

On facebook, or call Barry on 9357 2470

Ivy – The Magnificent 7 – ‘The final shootout’ – World Cocktail Day

One of Australia’s leading bar-training-programs, Mixxit, is gearing up for the final leg of a competition that has attracted some of the country’s finest bartenders. The winner of the Magnificent 7 competition will fly to New York and attend the world famous five-day BAR (Beverage Alcohol Resource).   Guests are invited to come down and cheer on their state finalist and see some of the best Australian cocktail makers battling it out on the main stage at ivy. The seven finalists: Anita Strother,Byblos, Brisbane; Edward Murphy, Baden Powell, Melbourne; Erica Richards, Crown & Sceptre, Adelaide; Richie Brenton, Charlie’s Bar, Melbourne; Nick Edwards, The Lark, Brisbane; Christian Blair, Crown & Sceptre, Adelaide; Luke Reddington, Hugos Bar Pizza, Sydney.

6.30pm, Thursday 13 May at ivy, level 1, 320 George Street, Sydney

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Ivy – Vodka Masterclass

Oliver Stuart, Russian Standard Vodka’s brand ambassador and Bartendermagazine’s Bartender of the Year in 2006, will talk through the subtleties of his favourite spirit and share three fantastic vodka cocktail recipes.

$65pp includes 3 cocktails & canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Friday May 14th

Ivy Pool Club – Luxury Vodka Masterclass

Moet-Hennessey’s Garth Foster and Jimmy Sakajani from ivy’s Pool Club show guests how to make the most of luxury vodka with three favourite vodka cocktail recipes. They’ll also host a tasting of different luxury vodkas.  

$70pp includes 3 cocktails & canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Saturday May 15th

Lotus – Rum Masterclass

Pernod Ricard’s cocktail guru and brand ambassador, Ben Davidson, and Lotus’ award-winning mixologist Petr Dvoracek will conduct rum tastings before guiding guests through the art of making the perfect pina colada, daiquiri and a surprise rum cocktail.

$65pp includes 3 cocktails & canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

The Den – Whisky Masterclass

Pernod Ricard’s cocktail guru and brand ambassador, Ben Davidson and The Den’s resident mixologist Nico Darras show you how to make magic with a splash of whisky. They will demonstrate three classic whisky cocktails, including the Rob Roy and Bobby Burns.  

$65pp includes 3 cocktails & canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000


For four weeks in the month of May, 1806 in Melbourne will showcase the evolution of this remarkable cocktail from the earliest mentions, to the most modern molecular interpretation.

Just to give you an idea of how much of a following these events get around the globe, here’s a video from the Museum of the American Cocktail, who have really been the driving force behind the event and its slow global rollout.

World Cocktail Week ™ NYC from Lush Life on Vimeo.

Cocktail, Event, MixMarch, New Zealand

MixMarch #29: The Flying Dutchman

Updating the Classics is a tricky business. You are taking a recipe that is loved by people around the world. It’s a fucking hard thing to do with any level of success. Imagine my surprise then, when American Bartender of the Year, Jim Meehan, stepped up to update both a classic and one of my favourite drinks, the Aviation Cocktail.

I’ve tried a few updates on the Aviation, and most end up like the Cherry Aviation at Pocket Bar in Burton St, too sweet, too different, just not really at all like the Cocktail they’re supposed to be channeling.

This is so very different to that scenario.

Jim’s drink amplifys everything I love about the Aviation, Strong, Sour and fruity floral. Sitting at home back in Sydney, I’m ready to book a ticket, pack my bags and fly half way around the world just so he can make me another one.

The Flying Dutchman

.75 oz. (22.5mls) Clear Creek Plum Brandy, .75 oz. (22.5mls) Bols Genever, .5 oz. (15mls) Creme Yvette .5 oz. (15mls)Lemon Juice, .5 oz. (15mls) Pineapple Juice, 1 Barspoon (5mls) of Luxardo Maraschino

Shake with ice and fine strain into a chilled coupe

Garnish with one brandied cherry

(Jim Meehan, Winter 2010)

An ancestor of the Aviation Cocktail, first published in Hugo Ensslin’s Recipes for Mixed Drinks in 1916, this blue plum, pineapple, cherry and violet accented sour references Dutch genever, not the cursed ship forever lost at sea.

Event, New Zealand

The Luck of the Irish

The 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup is all about making extraordinary cocktails in  extraordinary environments. Many of the challenges are judged on the originality and creativity of the drinks, but when it comes to measuring the skills of a true bartender, one drink sets the benchmark- the classic Martini. “Modern Martini’ was the fourth challenge in the 2010 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup, the eight teams all preparing their version of the timeless drink.

The panel of four international judges recommended contestants keep things simple for this round, and that was exactly what the winners did. The competition’s loveable, if slightly loud, rogues- Team Ireland, taking it by the slightest of margins. Their appropriately titled ‘Kia Kaha’ (meaning ‘stand strong’ in Maori) was made of 42BELOW Pure, Lillet Blanc and sprayed with a Feijoa mist. In typical Irish style, the team came up with their winning entry on the bus on the way to the event! “I’m truly blown away to have won tonight, we’ve been gutted every time we have lost a challenge, we really wanted to do this for each other” says Team Ireland big man Andy Wall. US Bartender of the Year and our esteemed judge Jim Meehan said the Irish entry stood out for its simplicity and elegance, “it’s a drink I would be proud to serve in my bar,” said Meehan.

The Modern Martini challenge was the first event to be held in Wellington in the lead up to the grand final on Saturday March 27th, where the teams will prepare their signature drink for a live audience.

The convoy of bartenders, international judges and media had the ultimate ending to the Queenstown leg of the cup, being taken by helicopter from the Skyliner Gondola to the airport for their own rock ‘n’ roll charter flight. It was an inflight experience like never before, passengers provided with rock star wigs and glasses while sipping on a 42BELOW ‘Aviation’ cocktail and listening to AC/DC on takeoff. The plane was met by a scrum of local ‘papparazzi’ as they transferred to their stretch limos for a brief tour of the capital. “It’s the closest we’ll ever get to being real rock stars. I’ve never been treated so well before,  it was stupidly good,” says Australian team member and the country’s bartender of the year Chris Hysted.

Kia Kaha

50ml 42BELOW Pure
20ml Lillet Blanc
42Below Feijoa Vodka mist

Cocktail, Event, MixMarch, New Zealand

MixMarch #25: The B&B

The second drink that Simon Difford made at his Masterclass session was the B&B. A fusion of vodka and tequila, the B&B is named for Professor Jacob Briars and Julio Bermejo, of Tommy’s Restaurant in San Franciso.

The drink features another of Simon’s soon to be released range of cocktail bitters, this time Lavender. It also uses Agave Sec, a Triple Sec sweetend with the syrup of the fruit of tequila itself.

The B&B

30mls 42Below Manuka Honey vodka, 30mls Herradura tequila, 22.5mls Agave Sec, 15mls lime juice, 3 dashes Difford’s Lavender bitters. Shake over ice and strain up.

Event, New Zealand

The Kiwis bash one out

The New Zealand team notched up a challenge win in Sunshine Bay on Lake Wakatipu yesterday, with their special it’s 42bro, served up in a sawn off 420 water bottle.

The challenge took all of 8 minutes for each team, with a random box of ingredients being provided and teams getting bonus points for using more ingredients but still producing a balanced drink.

It’s 42 bro

42BELOW Vodka
Jose Cuervo tradicional
Fresh apricot
‘Rocket’ sauce
Vanilla sugar
Chestnut syrup
English Breakfast tea syrup
Peychaud’s Bitters

Muddle Rocket sauce and apricots,  add all ingredients, shake and strain. Garnish with chopped,  fresh papaya sprinkled with vanilla sugar and grapefruit zest.

Event, New Zealand

Smack in the Face?

No, not really. This is a post about Punch, the community liquor that really is quicker.

Last night at the house of one of the men credited with the lyrics for Eye of the Tiger, 42Below rocked out, with the second Cocktail World Cup Challenge, the 21st Century Punch contest. The Americans came away with a win, serving up their punch in hollowed out mangosteens, topped with a passionfruit vodka ‘cloud’

I’ve got a recipe coming, but you’ll have to come back for that.


42BELOW Honey
42BELOW Passionfruit
Sazerac Rye
white rum
NZ Sauvignon Blanc
passionfruit juice
Sencha green tea
fresh passionfruit
luxardo cherries
Lemon Juice
Champagne to taste
Serve with Passionfruit balls.

Other highlights of the night were getting a drink made for by both Chris Hysted, Australian Bartender of the Year & Jim Meehan, American Bartender of the Year.

Event, New Zealand

Mocktail Challenge on the Shotover Jet

Challenge One is done and dusted, with teams mixing up a modern mocktail using fresh fruits, Monin syrups and juices. Team Australia came away with the win, with Chris Hysted managing to keep at least some of the drink in the glass and get it to Justin Mackenzie and get top scores.

Tonight they’ll ride to the Punch Party on Harley Davisons, like the rockstars they are.

Cocktail, Event, MixMarch

MixMarch #23: The Bacchus Reisling

The Bacchus Reisling is possibly the most complex cocktail I’ve listed on this site, certainly right up there with the Alamagoozulum. Invented for the 2007 Cocktail World Cup, and garnering a second place for Riki Carter, Chris Harup and Kyle Simpson, The 42Below Vineyard 2007 Bacchus Reisling takes ingredients from the local region in an attempt to emulate the fruitful Central Otago style. Featuring 42Below Passionfruit, described by Professor Jacob Briars as “The most passionate of all vodkas”, this is a drink that is a real delight.

It also pairs nicely with fish.

The Bacchus Reisling

30mls 42Below Passionfruit, 15mlsLillet Blanc, 15mls RinQinQin (a peachy brandy ‘secret ingredient’), 5mls Speyside Scotch, 5mls Barenjager Honey Liqueur, 10mls Calvados, 25mls Verjuice (Gibbston Valley for a preference) 10mls fresh grapefruit juice, 2 thyme sprigs.

Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice, Shake like you’re in the most beautiful place in the world and strain into a reisling glass.  a amended after comment by Riki Carter, creator of this drink.

Please dont shake the cocktails stir lovingly and double strain in to a glass pre rinsed with fresh thyme and the glenlivet whisky

Here’s the original.

Event, New Zealand

And so it begins

Flights into Queenstown were met in branded buses and thrown from the Kawara Gorge bridge (conviently a height of 42 meters) as their introduction to the 42Below Cocktail World Cup.

Yesterday was all about getting to know the teams, blowing out the cobwebs and rolling out the welcome wagon. The formal part of the evening rolled to a close at Canyon Lodge, where a four course degustation with Cocktails paired to each dish were offered up to assembeld horde. The highlights for me (apart from the plunge of the bridge) were, meeting the some of the judging panel, Simon Difford of Diffords Guide, Vernon Chalker of much Melburnian fame and Jim Meehan, American Bartender of the year. All of these guys will be making an appearance on these pages in the coming days.

Food wise, the fresh Ocean Salmon, paired with the Bacchus Reisling was exceptional.


The anticipation is building

This is an amazing piece of content pulled together from the USA finals for Cocktail World Cup. Watch closely as Professor Jacob warms to his role speaking with an American journalist. The use of “Pretty much, yeah, it’s kinda the pinnacle, y’know” shows the level of effort the man has put into his study of the other English language, American.

Seriously though, there’s some great technique in here and I can’t wait to see if the guy who came second brings his red suspenders to the contest next week.


Tales of the Cocktail: Judging Panel released

Only 126 days until the world’s best cocktailing event and object of my ambition, Tales of the Cocktail commences in Nawlins.

The nominations for the Spirited Awards are now open and I think they’ll get a number of fantastic follies to fill the form. You can check out the categories here, and there is also a list of the judges, so you’ll know who to pay off, as well as short biographies, so you’ll have an idea of how much will be needed to tip them from interest to commitment.

Event, New Zealand

7 left to go…

Seven Sleeps ‘Til Lift-Off In The 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup 2010

Right now, in all corners of the globe, 24 of the world’s best bartenders are polishing their shakers, dusting off their muddlers, packing their skinniest pair of jeans and a few favourite, top secret ingredients. Yup, it’s only a week to go ‘til the 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup 2010 kicks off -it’s all about ‘Love, Drinks and Rock n Roll, Baby!’.

The bartenders are about to have the experience of a lifetime, a one off chance to take part in the world’s most extreme cocktail making competition in the home of 42BELOW, New Zealand. Contestants from the New York, London, Dublin, Milan, Rome, Paris, Sydney, Melbourne, Wellington and Auckland will assemble in Queenstown on Monday 22nd March for four days of cocktail making and adrenalin pumping challenges. Their every move (even the dodgy dance ones) will be scrutinised by four international judges, including the recently crowned American ‘bartender of the year’ Jim Meehan. “For the past few years, the 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup has drawn rave reviews from judges and contestants alike.  After a week -long examination of each participants ability to work individually and as a team player with national bragging rights on the line, the competition pushes bartenders out of their comfort zone into real-time scenarios,” Meehan says, with a 42BELOW cocktail in his hand.

The competition will be set in some of the South Island’s most spectacular locations and includes ‘Modern Martini’, ‘Ready, Steady, Shake’ and the ‘Mocktail’ challenge. Contestants will also take part in a series of cocktail ‘summits’- educational workshops hosted by some of the most influential people in the industry. And, in true 42BELOW style, there’ll be a fair few surprises too. “This group of bartenders work at the best bars, clubs and parties around the world. We’re honoured they’re coming on tour with us in New Zealand and I know they’ll be blown away by what 42BELOW has in store for them next week,” says 42BELOW CEO Paul Dibbayawan.

From Queenstown this motley group of mixologists will head north to New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, home of the country’s hippest night spots. They’ll have time to take in some of the sights, namely an oddly shaped parliament building and a few hairy hobbits. They’ll also have time to perfect their signature drink ahead of a jaw dropping grand final event on March 27th at Wellington’s Old Museum Building. The teams will take to the stage alongside real life rockers, kiwi chart toppers Midnight Youth and the winners of the 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup will be crowned.

It’s a week-long party in the world’s ultimate playground, all thanks to a crazy little vodka brand from the bottom of the earth. Who would have thought?
For more information please contact Belinda Henley.

Event, Spirit, Sydney

The Smirnoff Black Room

Last night’s hot ticket was the Smirnoff Black Room. Described on the invite as a creative journey through the senses, inspired by the essence of black.

I loved the tasting station, pictured above, with Blake Head offering up a great Mule sorbet to cleanse the palate and a sip of Absolut, 42Below and Smirnoff’s pot stilled Black. I’m going to another tasting next week, so I’ll go into some more detail then, but the spirit stood up well in that line up, the character and flavours really coming through.

I loved the hand carved, triple frozen ice cubes, with a slug of Black, a dash of Grand Marnier and a spritz of Orange Bitters. The copper cups for the Mules, the lemongrass alternative covered a little too much of the vodka’s character for my taste and the cloudy cucumber & appletinis were almost too smooth, judging by the sway of some of the crowd towards the end of the night.

I loved the room, the Aston Martins, the raised black catwalks defining the space in what is a very big venue. The artworks and soundscapes gave people something to do as they tried the various drinks on offer. The little tastes of food, especially the prosciutto wrapped asparagus. I loved hanging down the back, talking to the other bar geeks.

For me things went a bit too far with the Essence of Black fragrance, but maybe that’s just me. I certainly left the building feeling, well, indulged.

More images after the jump.

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