As we see The Hills districts spirits trade grow with new bars opening up so to will these localities attract the attention of events such as the Australian National Finals of the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2016. We at Dramnation maybe a whisky appreciation business but by no means do we limit our tastes to just whisky. When word came through that the cocktail challenge finals were happening on our doorstep, there was no way we were going to be missing out on the action.
island2isalnd Beverage Company managed the event on a National scale, rounding off the competition with the top 5 state finalists here in Castle Hill at our local Hillside Hotel. It is no coincidence the Angostura competitors converged here in The Hills. island2island are not only the exclusive importing, sales, marketing and distribution of Angostura Bitters, but also see their National Head Quarters situated right here in Castle Hill.
Taking stage at the top floor bar of the Hillside Hotel the audience was delivered a swanky serving of rum based cocktails dashed with none other than Angostura Bitters.
Judging the competition was conducted by industry peers and experts alike. Current Angostura world champion, Mike Tomasic; Sam Bygrave, editor of Australian Bartender Magazine; Luca Capecchi from The Commons; and Brittany Page from island2island.
First on the cards was Joe Sinagra from Bobeche, Perth representing Western Australia with The Captains Breakfast and The Royal Warrant Fizz. Sword cutlass in hand Joe delivered some pretty tasty looking cocktails for the first servings of the evenings.
Second contender Roman Tazhdynov from The Bibliotheca Bar, Adelaide representing South Australia, mixed up the Peach Perfect followed by Smoke On A Water.
Third inline was Alex Boon from Jahh Tiger, Brisbane representing Queensland with The Humming Bird Swizzle and Calypso Rose.
Fourth contender James Irvine from The Baxter Inn, Sydney representing New South Wales delivered his Mr Trinidad and Toco Beach giving smokey tiki love as he prepped 2 wooden tiki idol cups pre-challenge commencement.
Fifth and final contender Paul Ramsay from Dutchess, Melbourne representing Victoria rounded off the night with his Epernay and The Asset Cocktail No.2 while misting the bar top with dry ice and champagne flutes.
With the judges deliberating for quite some time it was announced James Irvine as the national finals winner of the Australian Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge! A roar from the crowd over shone some humble thanks from James before the realisation hit then is was all smiles and fist pumps. Comradeship delivered one enormous ecstatic bear hug congratulations by all the contenders.
The finalist won AU$10,000 cash plus the title of Australian Angostura Brand Ambassador. James will now go on to represent Australia in the global final held during Carnival in Trinidad early 2016. At this next challenge James will be competing for a further US$10,000 and the chance to become the Angostura Global Brand Ambassador.
We had a great night leaving contented spectating the challenge, sipping the cocktails served, while filling out bellies the food served up by Hillside Hotel. Island2Island take out top marks for bringing the challenge to Castle Hill and look forward to hopefully seeing more events like this taking place here and in the surrounding districts.