Harrison Kenney from Cantina OK! won the 2020/21 Patrón Perfectionists Australia final this week and confesses it still feels “totally surreal”.
Kenney will join the other global finalists hailing from 22 countries across the world to represent Australia in the Global Final of the cocktail competition, which will be taking place at Hacienda Patrón, Mexico, in January 2022.
“I haven’t gotten my head around it yet, it’s been over three months since I’ve been in a bar, and in another three months I’ll be in Mexico!” he said.
“I’m very eager to meet the other finalists, there’s so much to learn, so much to share. I’m excited to eat and drink! Honestly I’ve heard so many stories, I just want to experience it all personally at the original source.”
His winning cocktail is called TEAL. It features fresh kiwifruit, Patrón Silver, fino sherry, lime juice and freshly juiced celery, with a few drops of vanilla EVOO to finish. According to Kenney, the secret to making a great cocktail is finding unexpected flavour combinations, using the best ingredients – but not too many – creating an experience, and putting your personality as a bartender on display.
“TEAL is a celebration of the green top notes of Patrón Silver, reminiscent of fresh cut grass, lime zest and eucalyptus,” he said. It’s a combination of unexpected ingredients used in a way that is inspired and experience forward. All green ingredients and 100% Blue Agave makes TEAL.”
Australians can try TEAL at Cantina OK! in Sydney when COVID-19 restriction allow, or you can order the Patrón Perfectionists Masterclass Bundle at Hairy Dog to enjoy instantly at home and join a special LIVE cocktail masterclass on Friday, October 15 via Facebook Live.
Kenny said he’s looking forward to Cantina OK! reopening to customers next month. The bar expects to be up and running on October 11, open seven days from 5pm.
“I cannot wait to see some familiar faces that’s for sure,” he said. “I’m looking forward to extending that warm and welcoming hospitality again, it’s the human interaction I miss most, I’m ready to see everyone having a good time in the bar again, it’s been too long.”
As for what it is about Cantina OK! that has made it such a buzz word in the bar industry, Kenney said it’s the attention to detail.
“It’s all around you, everything in the venue is there for a reason, and that goes for that staff too,” he explained. “Handcrafted, hospitable and emotional, we always stay true to our soul.”
When it comes to the most exciting trend he’s seeing in mixology at the moment, Kenney has a surprisingly succinct answer: “Canned cocktails – RTDs are the future.”
Photography by Nikki To