By Paul Wootton
Melbourne’s bartenders nearly made it a clean sweep in the second semi-final of Diageo’s World Class Australia cocktail competition, held at the Noosa Food & Wine Festival on Friday.
Of the four semi-final winners, three work in Melbourne: Evan Stanley of Black Pearl, who won in the Ketel One Citreon vodka category; Daniel Warren of 1806’s The Understudy, who was top in the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve whisky category; and Ben Lancaster of the Kodiak Club, who won in the Bundaberg Master Distillers’ Collection dark rum category.
Rinna Kato of Brisbane’s Bacchus bar was the fourth semi-final winner; she triumphed in the Don Julio Reposado tequila category.
All 12 semi-finalists served up their competition drinks in a marquee on Noosa Main Beach, where the results of the contest were later announced.
A professional judging panel, which included celebrated chef Colin Fassnidge, Delicious magazine food editor Valli Little and last year’s Global World Class winner Tim Philips, made an initial assessment of the drinks before 250 members of the public had their say.
Daniel Warren, whose drink Gold Reflection was voted the best in the Johnnie Walker category, revealed how thrilled he was to have won.
“To know that something I’m passionate about is appreciated and enjoyed by all these people gives me a massive buzz,” he said.
All four semi-final winners will now go through to the national final, which takes place in Sydney from 9th to 12th June.
First prize is a package valued at $100,000, aimed at helping the winner open their own bar.