By Sacha Delfosse – editor bars&clubs
Eight top Australian bartenders gathered at Sydney's Sokyo bar in The Star last week for the Crystal Head Vodka Cocktail Challenge, hosted and judged by the brand's owner, Dan Aykroyd.
Co-hosted by bars&clubs magazine, the challenge was organised to choose the official cocktail that will be served at the Crystal Head Vodka networking bar, to be hosted by the brand at the Australian Liquor Industry Awards (ALIA) in Sydney next Wednesday October 23.
The bartenders invited to compete were: Tasha Lu – EDV Melbourne, Jenna Hemsworth – EDV Melbourne, Daniel Monk – Toff in the Town, Ben Lancaster – The Kodiak Club, Mike Tomasic – The Wild Rover, Quynh Nguyen – Toko, Brendan Keown – The Hazy Rose, and Rollo Anderson – The Rook. [continued below]
Winner Ben Lancaster with Dan Aykroyd
The bartenders were asked to make two Crystal Head Vodka cocktails, one using commercially available ingredients, which would be the one served at ALIA if they won, and another with no limitations or restrictions, in order for them to show off their creativity.
All the competing bartenders and their drinks left quite an impression on Aykroyd, but in the end the accolades went to Ben Lancaster from The Kodiak Club, and his commercial cocktail, Jaguar Sun.
“This competition was exciting because we see the innovation and imagination of these tremendous mixologists and they really know their trade and they know their ingredients well,” said Aykroyd.
“I learnt a lot, for example, I had never seen sorbet used in a beverage before. But to me it was the simpler ingredients that impressed me. The competition was a good example of why we built Crystal Head vodka as a clean slate and blank canvas for bartenders to add their flavours.
“That’s why we are in the non-flavour business because we think bartenders are far more inspired than the manufacturers.”