By Stefanie Collins, editor b&c
The World Class Cocktail Competition Australian final for 2016 has been won by Charlie Ainsbury, co-owner of Sydney’s This Must Be The Place.
In a tough competition, Ainsbury proved to have the winning formula – no surprise given that he was also the Australian winner in 2014.
The talented bartender told TheShout late last year that he was entering the competition again because he felt like he had unfinished business at the Global Final.
“I essentially just wanted to give it one more shot because I think I’m going to regret it if I don’t,” said Ainsbury, at the time. “When I got to the top six, as soon as they announced the winner, my first thought was ‘I’ve got to do it again’.”
Speaking about Sunday night's win, Ainsbury said: "I am proud, humbled and honoured to be representing Australia on the global stage once again. Having experience in the global finals under my belt will hopefully prove to be an advantage but I can tell you the nerves will never settle. I am driven, passionate and determined to bring the title back home to Australia."
Emily Wheldon, Diageo Australia’s head of drinks culture added: “Throughout every stage of this competition, we have witnessed raw ambition, passion and integrity – for the competition, our trade and industry. It is an absolute pleasure to be involved in World Class and I look forward to supporting Charlie in his second attempt at the global prize.”
The World Class competition is notoriously tough, with judge Luke Ashton – former Australian winner and co-owner of This Must Be The Place with Ainsbury – commented on Instagram that the challenges had seen some “Innovative, delicious and thoughtful drinks”. And that in the bottled cocktail challenge there were some “out of the box serves, from cans, bags and corkscrew bottles, standards are very high”.
Ainsbury’s bottled cocktail, inspired by organic wine and namechecking Don Julio tequila in the title was noted as being particularly impressive on social media.
The Final 25 competitors were put through multiple challenges including a speed round and a challenge based around Ketel One Craft and inspired by the 325 years of the Nolet distillery.
Ainsbury will now travel to the Global Final in Miami to try his hand against the best bartenders from around the world.