By Rebecca Harris

Woodford Reserve hosted the NSW State Final of its 2008 cocktail competition last night at The Lincoln in Sydney.

In a racing-themed event, six finalists battled it out for prizes including $500 and a chance to compete in the national final.

Entrants were required to submit a cocktail recipe using a minimum of 30ml of Woodford Reserve, with points awarded on the night for balance, flavour, presentation and knowledge of the spirit.

Competition winner Stuart Reeves from Park Hyatt Sydney’s harbourbar said he was “blown away by the result”.

“It’s a competition I have always wanted to win because I love bourbon. Most cocktail competitions revolve around vodka, so to be able to create something using a spirit that I love is fantastic,” he said.

Runner-up, Ranjinth Cebreco of the Arthouse Hotel, who has only been bartending for seven months, impressed judges with his Versailles Blazer — a flaming Woodford Reserve creation garnished with a Cuban cigar.

Competition judge and bars&clubs magazine managing editor, James Wilkinson, said the standard of bartending was incredibly high.

“All six competitors could have won the event with their outstanding cocktails and sound knowledge of Woodford Reserve. Dark spirit competitions are never easy and well done to not just Stuart and Ranjinth, but the other NSW finalists (Lee Potter Cavanagh, Hemmesphere and The Loft; Blake Head, Lotus; Thales Papadopoulos, Zeta Bar; and Josh Baxter, Hemmesphere) on one of the most exciting competitions Sydney has seen in a long time,” he said.

Reeves and Cebreco will now compete against the Melbourne and Brisbane winners in the national final, to be held at Silk Road on Collins Street in Melbourne on 19 May.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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