Cocktail Connoisseurs decide the nation’s best


Kenny Soetomo from Lot 20 in WA, takes top gong! 

Sydney’s cocktail aficionados descended on Hugos Lounge on Wednesday 12th November, to sample and judge cocktail creations from some of Australia’s finest up-and-coming mixologists at a unique event designed to unearth the next biggest star in bartending.

The winner, Kenny Soetomo, took out the national title with his cocktail creation ‘St Bruno Biscotti’ winning the trip of a lifetime to visit the best bars and distilleries throughout Japan plus $1,000 spending money. Second place was awarded to Michael Barendregt for his ‘ Kazan ( Fire Mount) ‘ creation, while third place went to Yoshi Onishi, with his ‘Repeat after me’ concoction.

Over 350 guests flocked to Hugos Lounge and were tasked with rating the five bespoke cocktail creations for this year’s Cocktail Connoisseur, a unique cocktail and bartender judging concept from Suntory Australia. Guests enjoyed the complimentary cocktails, refreshing Kakubin Highballs and Japanese influenced cuisine, as well as entertainment from Sydney favourite Press Club. They took part by ‘tipping’ the bartender who they considered to be the most engaging host and the creator of their favourite cocktail of the evening.



After a gruelling round of preliminary judging, which involved a series of blind tastings by the judges according to appearance, taste and aroma of each entrant’s signature cocktail, more than 600 entrants were then whittled down to five finalists in each state. In the state finals, the contestants then had to undergo a series of tests assessing their bar skills, knowledge and palate in a blind judging component.

First Place:  Kenny Soetomo,  Lot 20 WA

St Bruno Biscotto 

Glass: Champagne Flute
Garnish; Orange Zest
Method:  ‘Dry shake’, shake  with ice and double strain.

30 ml Yellow Chartreuse
15 ml Disaronno Amaretto
15 ml Vanilla syrup
40 ml Fresh lemon Juice
2 dash Dandelion & Burdock Bitters
10 ml Egg White

Second Place: Michael Barendregt, Thrift Shop SA

Kazan (Fire Mount)

Glass: Coupette
Method: Place beer (cold) in coupette, Dry shake all other ingredients, shake with ice, then strain
Garnish: None
25ml Yamazaki Distillers Reserve Whisky
30ml Suntory Magnum Dry
20ml Aperol
20ml Sugar syrup
25ml Fresh lemon juice
Dash Egg white

Third Place: Yoshi Onishi, Tokyo Bird NSW

Repeat After Me

Glass: Coupette or Martini
Garnish: Grapefruit Twist
Method: Stir and double strain
30ml Russian Standard Gold Vodka
10ml Remy Martin VSOP
10ml Amaro Montenegro (Italian Digestif)
10ml Carpano Antica Formula (Italian sweet vermouth)
10ml Finsbury Platinum Gin
Rinse Absinthe

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