The Hendrick’s Hot Gin Punch Competition wrap


In the month of May 2015 an invitation was delivered by Hendrick’s Gin to the many delightfully talented bartenders of Australia. These conjurers of all things delectable were asked to compete for the title of Hendrick’s Gin 2015 Hot Gin Punch champion and a chance to win a most mysterious reward. The challenge this year was to not only concoct a glorious Hot Gin punch, but to unleash their inner story teller and share the tale of their punch in a format of their choosing. For who can spin a better yarn than the one behind the bar?

Tales and mythological journeys have been used by storytellers for generations in almost every major culture around the world. They are a great example of how vivid imagination and storytelling merge, often to communicate powerful, complex messages with such apparent simplicity that any soul would understand. Myths and dreams can transport people to magical, far away kingdoms, with a cast of mythological characters, tinctures, and rituals that challenge our perception of reality and vitalize the inquisitive spirit within.


Stories that enthralled all who read were shared; some spoke of darker mysterious places, others of sparkling effervescent lands and characters that captivated the mind. All displayed that elusive quality the greatest bartenders are able to harness – creativity. The punches inextricably linked to the stories were of an equally admirable standard. They all shared intriguing and refreshing taste profiles that enlivened the taste buds, all suitably unusual for a most extraordinary Gin.


After much deliberation the 10 most remarkable entries were agreed as being: Adam Bastow of Black Coffee Lyrics, Alex Boon of Jahh Tiger, Cody Kings of Byblos Bar, Dominique Cacioli of Bickle, Edward Quartermass of Papa Jack’s, Elliot Pascoe of Cobbler, Oscar Eastman of Eau De Vie, Phil Weber of Enriques School for to Bullfighting, Raphael Redant of Stitch and Thalita Alves of The Gresham.

These 10 finalists were to embark on a remarkable journey in to the heart of Australia, experiencing much that was unfamiliar and unique to the location. This rugged landscape has long been the abode of storytelling through dreamtime tales and mythology passed on through the Aboriginal people of this land. In such a place local knowledge grants access to local ‘bush tucker’, invisible to the eye of those not versed in living from an outwardly barren land.


The finals experience began after landing in remote Alice Spring’s, the giant rock known as Uluru plainly visible as the plane descended toward the distinctly red earth. The finalists were then ferried out through the desert toward a remote bush location to meet Aboriginal Elders who would be their hosts for the evening. The Elders told of the significance of storytelling in their culture before sharing intriguing tales all while the enquiring group were led on a journey through ancient cave painting sites. It was then time to feast on bush tucker around a campfire, later drifting off to dream under a natural mosaic of stars.

On the second day the intrepid bunch rose to the smell of bacon and eggs cooking on the campfire. There was much discussion around the Elders stories as well as debate around some unconfirmed perpetrators whose violent snoring shook the very earth. After breakfast the group was then driven through the outback to civilization in the form of the Ayers Rock Resort. The showers were a welcome savoir-faire before a Bush Tucker Master Class hosted by Athol Wark, native food expert, acclaimed chef and undercover sorcerer.


After partaking of the variety of bush tucker on display the bartenders then undertook the Dry martini and Unusual Speed Round, a cocktail making constitutional set to push the dexterity and hand eye coordination of the master mixoligists. Much skill and ingenuity was on show and presented a curious segue in to a camel ride at sunset. The finalists sat atop the peculiar beasts as they strode through the desert while the sun set against the back drop of the formidable Ayers Rock. The night ended with a splendid dinner and the finalists returned to their rooms to prepare their punches for the following day’s competition.

The day of the finals was upon the remarkable travellers and they were whisked out to an untold location that materialised as a salt lake. As each finalist presented their punch and brought their exquisite stories to life it became clear that the eventual winner would be required to step outside themselves. It was to happen more than once, however after one particularly visceral and fascinating tale was told a winner was chosen. It was to be Thalita Alves of The Gresham, who brought her story to life in such way that it transported the mind to another place in a disturbingly powerful way.

The day finished with the Tali Wiru Dining experience where guests were seated at a grand table atop a desert dune. On the way a mysterious man played a didgeridoo on the path, he spoke with the group before running in to the desert never to be seen again. As the finalists enjoyed the magnificent dining experience they recalled the many strange and exotic experiences they had shared and marvelled at the fantastic star filled sky and view of the ever present Uluru. The winner Thalita Alves and runner up Alex Boon were announced to much applause and the group celebrated in to the night.

Alas the final day was upon the group and it was time to embark on an adventure to the ever present back drop that was Uluru. One last dreamtime tale was to be told describing formations on the rock whose sheer immensity at close proximity was awe inspiring. Despite the wonderful tales there was much deliberation on what may have become of the didgeridoo playing man from the previous night, a mystery that remains unsolved to this day. The visit to the rock was ended appropriately in what had become the group’s ceremonial dance; Beds are Burning in the style of Midnight Oil front man, Peter Garret.

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