By Sacha Delfosse
Adelaide’s Cushdy bar recently hosted the city’s only home grown bartending competition, Grand Poobah, in a quest to find the best bartender in town … and got more than it bargained for when two winners were named.
This year’s Grand Poobah competition was organised by Cushdy owner, Shaun Pattinson, and featured a new format to last year’s event which included a written exam and blind tasting component, on top of the cocktail making element.
After the exam and tasting challenges, the five top bartenders had to make a cocktail using Larios gin, El Jimador tequila and Angostura rum, supplied by the judges, as well as ingredients from a mystery box.
The judges found it hard to pick just one winner this year, so first place went to Christian Blair from Crown & Sceptre Hotel and Darren Leaney from Grace the Establishment, with Monica Place from Cushdy the runner-up.
The Grand Poobahs: Darren Leaney and Christian Blair
The two winners received a selection of booze, courtesy of the judges, and will share equal custody of the Grand Poobah champion’s Fez hat, which they will pass on to the winner of next year’s competition.
“The Grand Poobah competition is great and quickly becoming an Adelaide institution. The format for this year was very well planned, and gave appropriate challenges to the participants, making sure that the winners were truly well-rounded when it comes to the craft,” co-winner Blair said.
“When approaching comps like this I like to roll in cold with no prep, so that anything in the test or tasting round that I don't know or can't identify I can earmark as something that I can improve on. And my love for improvisation made the mystery box cocktail round my particular favourite.”