At an event held on Wednesday night (9 November) at The Eveleigh, Alex Boon from Melbourne’s Pearl Diver Cocktails & Oysters was named winner of Patrón Perfectionists Australian competition.

Boon will now travel to Mexico to compete in the global competition against national champions from around the world.

The Perfectionists competition was held over two days in Sydney, with Boon and nine other competitors taking on two challenges involving Patrón: ‘Hometown Hero’ – in which bartenders had to produce a cocktail inspired by their local culture; and the ‘My Masterpiece’ challenge – which required competitors to produce their magnum opus.

The judging panel consisted of: Anneliese Grazioli – 2019 Australian Patrón Perfectionists winner,  Joey Chisholm – Patrón Tequila Execution Manager, drinks writer Sam Bygrave, and Harrison Kenney – reigning Patrón Perfectionists Cocktail Competition Global Winner (see his winning cocktail, which was served at The Eveleigh, here). Kenney also presented the prize to Boon.

Harrison Kenney (left) and Alex Boon (right)

The Eveleigh was transformed into a hacienda for the occasion, complete with Mexican cuisine and Jarabe dancers. After the event, Boon spoke to The Shout about his victory, the cocktails he produced, and his hopes for Mexico.

“Honestly, it’s amazing to be able to take it away,” Boon said.

Chisholm reflected on the quality of the competition in general, before congratulating Boon.

“What an amazing national final, congratulations to all of our top 10 but as always there can only be one winner!

“Alex’s presentation skills and overall drink concept for both challenges is what got them over the line in what was a very tight final. I am super excited to take Alex over to Mexico to the Global finals in March and hopefully deliver back to back wins for Australia!”

Boon too was quick to praise his fellow competitors.

“The reason I entered was to hang out with them all and see what everyone’s doing around Australia, and get inspired by that,” Boon said.

“I’ve competed for many years in cocktail competitions, globally and nationally – but not for a while. So to really get back into it, and see what all these amazing bartenders are doing around Australia, Brisbane, Western Australia, Adelaide – you know, they’re all coming up with these great techniques, and they’re really inspiring and their stories are really inspiring.

“I get to go home now, and take that with me to my own bar, which I think is really important. It’s one of the biggest things I’ve love about competitions.”

Boon with his fellow finalists

Of course, in the end, it all came down to Boon’s drinks, and The Shout asked what the techniques and inspiration behind them was. First up was his ‘Hometown Hero’ cocktail, Frankie.

“That first drink was all about harnessing a hometown hero ingredient [from a prescribed Patrón list, ‘The Pantry’]. I picked Uncle Toby’s Oats. I hate Uncle Toby’s Oats, but to me that flavour and that smell and that taste has a memory attached to it that really love.

“So although I don’t like the food – I like the memory that was attached to it, and that’s a big thing with bartending. It’s about nostalgia, right? We create memories. We give nostalgia a taste and a name and a smell, and that’s really cool.”

To include the oats in the drink Boon created a horchata (a traditional Spanish spiced nut or rice milk) with almond milk, rice and cinnamon.

“I put rolled oats through that, which was really thick and delicious and had a really unctuous flavour to it,” Boon said.

The drink also included Aleppo pepper-infused dark chocolate.

“So I had to work with chocolate here to learn how to do it, which is also the reason that I like competitions: you challenge yourself with new techniques.”

For the ‘My Masterpiece’ round, Boon produced ’60 Hands Highball’, a tequila-based cocktail that used mango three ways: as mango liquor, fermented mango syrup and clarified mango juice.

“The next round was all about artistry, creating a cocktail that use ingredients in a number of different ways, so again, I tried to challenge myself to do something I hadn’t done before,” Boon explained.

“I used a technique called switching, where you take the water out of an alcohol using a deep freeze, and you replace that with flavour. I’ve never done this before and it took me ages to perfect it. But that’s the whole point of this competition,” Boon continued.

See the recipes for Boon’s cocktails here.

Boon will now travel to Mexico in March 2023 to take part in the vaunted Patrón Perfectionists Global Finals against champions from 18 other nations (and a few cruise liners). Here he will undertake a new series of challenges against the best of the best.

The Shout enquired as to what Boon was most excited for when he gets to Hacienda Patrón.

“I looking forward to representing the other nine competitors the way they’ve represented themselves in the last two days – doing them proud, doing Harrison proud,” the national champion said.

“I’m also just really looking forward to again pushing myself that was a little bit out there and different, and something I haven’t done before, and discovering new grounds with the way I present and make dinks,” Boon concluded.  

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