By Sacha Delfosse

The national final for the Monkey Shoulder Cocktail Boot Camp was held on January 21 at Sydney's Vasco bar, with Stuart Morrow from Hugos Bar Pizza taking out first place and earning himself a trip to Scotland.

Joining Morrow in the final were Joey Tai from Golden Monkey (VIC), Richard Blanchard from EDV Melbourne (VIC), Katherine Wasiel from The Bowery (QLD), Kal Moore from Bacchus (QLD) and Davide Zanardo from Harlem On Central (NSW).

The competing bartenders were the winners and runners-up of three state-based Cocktail Boot Camp heats held by William Grant & Sons late last year in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane involving over 30 selected bartenders who competed across a series of fun activities including go karting, paintball and spirit tasting.

"A leader board in each state was created and the bartender with the most points was allowed to go into the cocktail pantry first, similar to TV's Master Chef, to select their four ingredients," said William Grant & Sons marketing manager – blended whiskies, Nathan Fisher.

"Once the ingredients were selected, those ingredients were exhausted and the next bartender would need to choose alternate ingredients. Their aim was to create an original Monkey Shoulder cocktail with a chance to come to Sydney in January to compete in the national Monkey Shoulder Cocktail Boot Camp final."

For the national final, the top six had to undergo a series of exhausting challenges in order to earn points, including a commando course, an archery course and a series of time trials conducted while riding a Segway. The higher the points scored, the more ingredient options a bartender had for the cocktail component of the competition.  

"Each competitor was led into the 'Cocktail Pantry' one-by-one based on their point scores from the day's activities to select their ingredients and randomly choose a drink style," said Fisher. 

"Following time to develop and craft a delicious cocktail, the six competitors were then asked to make their cocktails in front of three judges – Time Out Australia's joint CEO, Michael Rodrigues and William Grant & Sons' two whisky specialists."

Morrow will be jetting off to Scotland mid-year to visit Monkey Shoulder's three malt distilleries (Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie). He will be joined by the winner of Monkey Shoulder's second cocktail competition, The Subversive Serve, which will kick off in February.

The Shout Team

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