While there probably isn’t a home mixologist out there who doesn’t enjoy seeing the results of the various cocktail competitions that take place around the country, it has to be said, that some events are more inspiring than others.
Sure the recipes are always amazing and seeing what flavours and ingredients bartenders are experimenting with is definitely interesting. But last nights, 2018 Patrón Perfectionists Cocktail Competition had that little something extra that should give all home bartender an encouragement boost.
You see the winner, Abby Wegener, only started shaking her first cocktail about eight months ago.
Yes, she owns a bar, Hades Hula House, and yes, that bar is in Adelaide, which let’s face it has been turning out some pretty outstanding drinks for some time (albeit a little under the radar).
But here’s a relative novice who managed to turn the heads, not only of the local judges in her regional finals but also the national completion.
And who were those judges, well only Nick Cox, Head of Patrón AMEA and NAPAC, Patrón Spirits International; Phil Bayly, Global Mezcal Ambassador and Founder of Agave Love; and Mike Christensen, Editor in Chief of GQ Australia.
You’ve got to admit in the world of Tequila, that’s an impressive panel to be impressing.
Now I’m not necessarily saying that every home bartender that has been mucking around with spirits for only eight months could do what Wegener did, but it does show that years behind the stick aren’t necessarily a prerequisite for creating a world-class cocktail.
Now there were six finalists in the competition, and each was challenged to create a Patrón Tequila based cocktail inspired by Australia. Wegener drew inspiration for her cocktail ‘The Muldejewangk’ from a mythological creature that was said to snatch children who stray too close to the banks of the Murray River.
As Wegener described it, “Hiding beneath the murky waters of the Murray River, the Muldjewangk — half-man, half-fish — would snatch any child who strayed too close to the water’s edge after dark. My cocktail premieres indigenous ingredients and local mythology to create a new wave tiki experience, paying respect to the natural owners of this land.”
And what goes into creating that creature? Well, a mix of Quandong, Desert Lime and two types of Tequila (see recipe below). Each finalist was judged on the criteria of appearance, originality, service and of course, flavour.
“It’s unbelievable,” Wegener told The Shout after being announced as the winner. “Eight months ago I opened the bar and shook my first cocktail, with the idea of just entertaining people and having a good time – and then I’m here.
“The call to be a regional finalist was insane, it blew my mind, and I never expected it, and then to be here and in front of these guys is just stupid!”
Well we’d say more inspiring than stupid, but it was Wegener’s creativity taken from a “lifetime in hospitality” and her experience as a professional burlesque performer that helped her not only create an inspiring drink but also keep the room (and the three judges) entertained.
“I’m nowhere near the best bartender in the world, but this cocktail obviously captured the imagination and the flavour profile of the judges.
“My whole philosophy when I opened my bar was to entertain and have people have fun – whether they ordered a cocktail or a water, it didn’t matter, they’re just there to have a good time,” said Wegener. “So, I brought that attitude to the stage tonight – maybe that ‘roughness’ was what got me over the line.”
Abby Wegener will now represent Australia and compete against eighteen other national Patrón Perfectionists winners in the Global Finals that will take place in Mexico in January 2019.
- 30ml Patrón Silver
- 15ml Patrón Reposado
- 30ml Lime Juice
- 20ml Quandong Curacao
- 5ml Desert Lime Puree
- 30ml Simple Syrup
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Stain into a stemless wine glass and garnish with native finger lime foam, native finger lime caviar and zest.