The Angostura Cocktail Challenge National Final

Joe Sinagra (Luxe Bar, Perth) on his way to victory!

This competition wrap-up featured in the December issue of Australian Bartender magazine.

Written by Edward Washington
Photography by Erin Camille

Joe Sinagra (Luxe Bar, Perth) has done Western Australia proud by taking out the National Final of the 2011 Angostura Cocktail Challenge. He now heads to Trinidad in February next year to participate in the Global Final – a competition that Andy Griffiths (Cookie, Melbourne) won at the start of this year.  “This year was even more successful than 2010,” said Nathan Forde, island2island Beverage Company Marketing Manager. “Not only was the quantity of entries higher, but the quality and difficulty pushed the judges at both the state finals and the national final.”

“[That’s] definitely one of the toughest comps I’ve been in,” said Sinagra after being announced the winner. “Having to get past some really great talent in the state finals to then come up against some very serious competitors in the national final was a definite challenge.” It’s not all just rum focused though, with the competition stipulating some pretty fine rules. “The challenge of using a minimum of five dashes of Angostura Aromatic bitters really pushed everyone to think more about the role that bitters plays in a drink, and how versatile a product like Angostura Aromatic bitters really is,” Sinagra explained.


The national final was held at the grand Crown Casino in Melbourne and the night turned out to be a rousing success for both Sinagra and island2island Beverage Company who stage the annual event. “We couldn’t be happier here at island2island,” beamed Forde, “the positive response we received for the not only Angostura, but the company as well, was fantastic.”

“We had over 100 trade and industry people attend the final at Crown Casino, and not only was the camaraderie amongst the bartenders great, but the support from the packed crowd made it a fun filled night for all involved.”

Of the final showdown, Sinagra spoke highly of all the competitors who worked together, despite competing for the same goal. “They really were a great final group. We all worked really well together helping each other out; it’s great to be in an industry where everyone in the final just wants all the competitors to do well.”

Despite the team work there was only one ticket to Trinidad on offer that night and competitors ultimately dueled it out for a place on the plane.  “I really thought any of us could have won and when they said my name I was in total shock”, Sinagra explained. “I feel extremely honoured to have represented Perth so well. The scene in Perth is getting better every day and hopefully with this win we can show that Perth is a place for serious and skilled bartenders.”

Not only is this type of national cocktail competition valuable for the bartenders, and the industry’s that they represent, they are also hugely beneficial for the companies that host them with media coverage, bartender knowledge and portfolio exposure all helping to showcase their brands. Australian Bartender magazine was proud to be the official trade media partner for this year’s event and covered the competition stages in the magazine as well as promoting it through its social media outlets. “The Angostura competition has really got the industry’s attention with their mix of a great prizes, fun competition and of course fantastic products,” said Spanton Media Director David Spanton, “well done to the team at island2island”.

“[This competition is] very valuable, both for Angostura bitters and the Angostura Rum Range, said Forde. “Nearly 100 per cent of bars in Australia stock Angostura bitters because of the iconic Lemon, Lime & Bitters. The competition prompts bartenders to add an exciting element to cocktails through the versatility of Angostura bitters, and while Angostura rum is relatively new to Australian market, this competition is a great way to encourage usage.”

New or not the range of Angostura rums available through island2island Beverage Company is impressing some top ‘tenders. “The product range, in particular the Angostura rum range, from i2i is fantastic,” said Sinagra after the competition had wrapped up. “[Their] rum offerings have something for every level of consumer and are all easily mixable and great on their own.”

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