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On The Crooked Judging Panel

Author: Matt Wooler - Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Getting involved in the whisky scene sometimes delivers those things out of the blue you don’t ever think you would be involved in. I have been to many cocktail competitions and get excited to watch the action as bar tenders put on a show while creating a cocktail under only minutes of pressure.

On Monday 9th October, I was asked to be one of the judges at an staff cocktail competing for staff of Pocket Group. If you don’t know about Pocket Group specifically then you will certainly remember the name Crooked Tailor, Castle Hill's first boutique bar. Crooked Tailor is part of the bespoke hand built bars established by The Pocket Group through in and around the Sydney area. These bars include Pocket Sydney, Pocket Terrigal, Button Bar, Stitch Bar, and Crooked Tailor. Specifically if you are in the Hills and want to know more about Crooked Tailor read out review of the bar: The Crooked Tailor - Whisky Bar In The Hills.

Pocket Group run a series staff events including things such as this in house bar challenge as a means of bonding, networking and delivering positive staff incentives. When Ryan O’Keefe, Group Operations Manager for Pocket Group, contacted me to see if I would be interested in jumping in on the judging panel. He did not have to ask twice!

Supporting the event was one of our go to whiskey brands Brown-forman’s Woodford Reserve Bourbon. On the panel as well was the local Brown-Forman Brand Ambassador Stuart Reeves. For those who attended our recent Southern Whiskey On The Lawn event would remember Stuart deconstructing Jack Daniel's, Woodford Reserve, and Old Forester whiskies.

The completion was held at Button Bar, Surry Hills and the rules of engagement for this competition were as follows:

Each venue as a team of 2-3 was to create a single Woodford Reserve based drink comprising of ingredients drawn from a ‘Mystery Box’. Not all ingredients must be used but points were awarded per item in the drink.

Each team was provided with the basic bar setup including equipment, juices and syrup.

Each team will have time allocated to their presentation;

  • 5 mins bar setup
  • 2 mins of planning once the mystery box ingredients have been revealed
  • 4 mins to create & present the drink.
  • Teams encouraged to dress up/theme the presentation/take the piss out of themselves.

A cash prize for the winning venue & a Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Finish Woodford Master's Collection Edition Bottling.

As the competition was in-house it meant the staff were encouraged to vocally heckle adding that wild card often discouraged in public competitions. Performing loudly each bar matched up with their mystery items to create 2 cocktails for the judging panel to enjoy. Not to be outdone we, the judges, dressed up in Hawaiian short and red fezzes to keep a them going over the bar top.

It was a great opportunity to be involved in judging the comp and fantastic to see a group that actively supports positive staff bonding across the board.

Thanks to the lads at Pocket Group for the invite.

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