Over 2 days, squirrelled away from the public eye; 25 of Australia’s best bartenders battled it out at Strickland House in the Diageo Reserve World Class Australian Grand Finals. Jack Sotti, of Eau De Vie Melbourne took home the title becoming Australia’s Bartender of the Year 2015. Sotti’s win will take him to South Africa for the Diageo Global Finals in Cape Town. Over the weekend leading up to the finals, we sat through a few of the panels and witnessed the behind the scene actions, masterclasses tense cocktail presentations and sat through some of the judging sessions.

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Jack Sotti is the Australian Bartender of the Year 2015.

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Whisky Blending masterclass conducted by Dave Broom which was subsequently followed by a whisky blend and cocktail challenge.

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The vegetable challenge “Veggie Revival” centered on the creation of a cocktail that highlighted the vegetable of choice and was conducted by Darren Robertson, Three Blue Ducks.

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Tim Philips Bulletin Place Judging the speed challenge round “Against the Clock” – where three classic cocktails had to be created in 5 minutes.

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The welcome drink challenge is a low ABV cocktail challenge (maximum 1.5 drinks) and one of the surprise judges who showed up was Matt Preston from Masterchef, This must be the Place‘s Charlie Ainsbury and Luke Ashton were also on hand. Presentation, storytelling and cocktail names also factored.

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Strickland house was the backdrop for 2015’s Diageo Reserve Bartender of the Year competition.

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NSW representing. Rollo Anderson (The Rook), Matt Linklater (Bulletin Place) and Jose Manuel (Hazy Rose)

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Other awards were given out for the competition categories.

  • Winners ‘Beauty of Blends’: Thalita Alves from The Gresham BNE
  • ‘The Veggie Revival’: Rowan Furlong from The Victoria Room SYD
  • ‘The Welcome Drink’: Jenna Hemsworth from Lui Bar MELB
  • ‘World Class in a Cocktail’: Sasha Leonard from Double Happiness MELB
  • ‘Against the Clock’: Pez Collier from Lychee Lounge BNE