A sunny Sydney evening in spring, a floating barge smack bang in the middle of the harbour facing the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, a hundred odd fans of delicious agave, what could be more fitting than an evening on The Island to celebrate one of the world’s best houses of tequila? Okay, so maybe Tequila is Mexican and the picture I’ve just painted is very Australian, but there’s no denying our fair country’s love of the formidable Mexican spirit.
Patron is a revered brand, from tacky rap lyrics to the fact that its name literally translates to ‘boss’, it’s made its mark as one of the greats, a go-to for flashy shots on a night out and a staple in every self-respecting bartender’s list of must-have ingredients to stock on a back bar. On Tuesday evening we celebrated the first Patron Perfectionist competition, a challenge that pits the best bartenders from all around Australia head to head to find out who will represent us in the global finals, to be held at Hacienda Patron in tequila’s home, Jalisco, Mexico.
Greeted with cocktails, the finalists are announced and we stake our claim on a spot at the bar giving us full view of the happenings, and happening they were. There was a time when a bartender entering a cocktail comp would be given full marks for turning up with some vintage coupettes and a swizzle stick. Those days are well and truly behind us (we quickly learn) as the first competitor pours tiny measures from what feels like about 600 different bottles into his vintage shaker, then proceeds to pour out six perfect serves of his potion, before encouraging the judges to make their own ‘mezcal smoke’ by adding mezcal to what I can only assume is liquid nitrogen, before pouring it over the top of the drink and sealing the glass with a dehydrated tomatillo. Oh, and he brought his own sombreros for the panel to wear. These guys meant business.
As the night progressed into a very fun brand of tequila-fuelled controlled chaos, the competitors continued to roll out what can only be described as cocktails that were made to be remembered – a treat for the onlookers and a headache for the judges who had to pick a winner from the pack.
Hard as their job may have been, they settled on a plucky young chap from Eau De Vie Melbourne (a must-visit bar for anybody in the area in search of a seriously quality beverage). The dapper Nick Cozens took out the top spot with his blend of Patrón Silver, vanilla washed Lillet Blanc, fresh lime juice, black pepper and coriander shrub, fresh pineapple juice and in case that wasn’t enough, some salted agave air spooned over the top.
If the sound of those ingredients isn’t enough to excite your theoretical taste-buds, then add the fact it’s all served in a conch shell sitting on a bed of pineapple and black pepper sand and you’ve got yourself a winning drink (literally). Nick now gets a trip to Mexico, as well as some other goodies, but all finalists walked away with a limited edition bottle of the good stuff and the knowledge that they made it this far, a true feat in a time when having your own crystal glassware isn’t enough to make a state final.
The end of the evening was a blurred memory for most, but it’s safe to say that with this much involvement in the Australian market, Patron tequila is still proving to be one of the best around. It’s a delicious drop and one of the better ways to force yourself onto the dancefloor no matter what the occasion. Nick is literally off to Mexico, but it’s not hard to travel there yourself in a single sip of this tasty tequila, and for a fraction of the price.