On the 1st March the stage was set (again) at the remarkable location Ms Collins in Melbourne with The Blend members filling the venue to cheer on the 11 bartending contenders (five in the Apprentice and six in the Professional category), all vying for their chance to compete at the National final held in a secret location later this year.
On the day of the competition, finalists were put through their paces with a series of technical challenges, before they had the opportunity to flaunt their bartending chops, in front of a live audience, the final presentation of their signature creation.
Like the other states, the finalists each had to partake in a knowledge test and blind tasting, all which weighted toward their final score which would inevitably reveal the state winners.
As well as the gregarious Exchange Ambassador (VIC) Brendon Rogers, guest judges were in attendance to keep a close eye on the action, assessing each bartender on their individual cocktail demonstration of their submission to The Perfect Blend, in front of the invited guests. Guest judges included the notable Nathan Beasley, Australian Bartender of the Year winner 2014, third on the bench was the one, the only industry expert Fred Siggins and lastly someone who is extremely familiar with competing in cocktail competitions is Will Sleeman, who won Rookie of the Year 2015.
After the judges deliberated, and scores were in, the VIC State finals winners were announced to the packed house that Matthew Follent (Apprentice category) from 1806 and Nick Cozens (Professional category) from Lily Blacks as the The Perfect Blend VIC state final winners.
Nick and Matthew will now proceed to the National final held in a secret location with the 8 other state finalist winners.
Don’t live in NSW and QLD and want a piece of the action? Log onto the www.the-blend.com.au to RSVP.
VIC Finalists (In no particular order)
Ric Divola, EAU DE VIE
Rohan Fisher, POLLY BAR
Matthew Follent, 1806
Mason Terret, PIGRO
Ben Cashmore, LUMIA CROWN CASINO
Dominique Cacioli, HUNTER AND BARREL
Nick Cozens, LILY BLACKS
Drew Nicol, PORTSEA HOTEL
Daniel Blake, MSCOLLINS
Tom Egan, THE PRAHRAN HOTEL
Garnish: Lemon Twist
Auchentoshan Three Wood 45ml
Pedro Ximenez Sherry 10ml
Amaro Montenegro 10ml
Cracked Black Pepper Pinch
Dry Vermouth rinse
Glass: Bespoke martini
Garnish: Charred Lemon time
Method: Shaken, double strained
Auchentoshan Three Wood 10mls
Barbecue charred apricot and black pepper syrup 20mls
Lemon juice 15mls
Fresh passionfruit 15mls
Scrappys firewater tincture 3 dashes