Matt Linklater of Melbourne’s famed Black Pearl bar has taken out the top prize in the annual Woodford Reserve Cocktail Competition.
The bourbon whiskey’s competition ran for three months, with over 150 bartenders whittled down to five through state finals. The finale event was held in Sydney’s Marble Bar last night.
Dubbed the Natural Order, Linklater’s cocktail utilised the Kentucky distillery’s Reserve Rye with pomegranate vinegar, grenadine, white ale umeshu, soap bark extract and limonata.
Second place went to Simon Hopkins of Sydney’s Surly’s American BBQ and Vini Wang of noted Adelaide whisky bar Hains & Co came third.
Linklater’s prize includes a trip to New York for the American finals.
Woodford Reserve are owned by Brown-Forman, who also own one of Australia’s biggest-consumed American whiskey’s Jack Daniels. The parent company has recently expanded into Scottish single malts with the acquisition of the Benriach Distilling Compoany (Benriach, GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh) and investment in a new Irish distillery Slane.
Both of those developments have trickled into the Australian market, where Brown-Forman now boast a worldwide whisky portfolio.
Melbourne’s Black Pearl is one of Australia’s best known cocktail bars – whisky based and otherwise. Earlier this year they were named the 22nd best in London’s World’s 50 Best Bars Awards, the highest in Australasia. They also were recognised at the Australian Liquor Industry Awards in October with Bartender Of The Year (Will Sleeman) and Best Bar Of The Year.