Japanese spirits maker Nikka has hosted the return of its cocktail competition – Nikka Perfect Serve – at Sydney’s Burrow Bar, with Reuben Beasley-Palmer from Melbourne’s Botswana Butchery taking the crown as Australia’s best.
Ten of Australia’s most talented bartenders gathered in the bar’s intimate setting, with the judges acting out different scenarios to create challenges for the bartenders. Contestants had 15 minutes to showcase their expert whisky pairings and cocktails, with the competition being run ‘Omakase Style’ which means ‘I leave it to you’.
Reuben Beasley-Palmer from Botswana Butchery in Melbourne was crowned Australia’s best, with the Nikka Perfect Serve’s philosophy centred around the Japanese philosophy ‘ichi-go, ichi-e’, which translates to ‘one moment, one encounter’. Unlike other cocktail competitions, Nikka Perfect Serve puts the guest experience at the heart of the competition, placing emphasis on the entire exchange rather than just the drinks served.
All judges noted Beasley-Palmer’s impressive ability to immediately connect and engage with them, accommodating their whims and offering expert pairings and cocktails that satisfied their palette.
Nikka Perfect Serve was judged by a panel of three prominent industry figures, comprising of owner and head chef at Bancho Bar Chad Choulai, owner of Burrow Bar Chau Tran and last years’ Nikka Perfect Serve Australian winner Aiden Rodriguez.
Tran said “Reuben took all the chaos on the chin and he really embraced it. It’s an amazing competition where everyone is on an equal playing ground, no matter your experience. It was very much about what would normal service feel like and how did they react to that – they could either power through, or crumble under pressure.
“Reuben’s performance was two-fold, the drink was delicious and was the service impeccable which in turn delivered the perfect serve.”
Beasley-Palmer will represent Australia at the Nikka Perfect Serve Global Final in San Francisco later this year, competing against the world’s leading bartenders for the ultimate title.
Reuben’s winning cocktails
Godfather: 45ml Nikka from the Barrel, 30ml of Amaretto, 4 dashes of Angostura Bitter, stirred down into a Nick & Nora glass with an orange twist.
The Lady Finger: 40ml Nikka Coffey Malt, 10ml of yuzu juice, 25ml of lime juice, 20ml of banana liqueur, 10ml of vanilla syrup, one egg white, dry shake then wet shake served with a ‘Beasley’ garnish.
The Other Half: Yoichi Single Malt paired with a homemade super mandarin soda served with an ice spear in a highball glass and garnished with a wasabi leaf.