Bartender of the Year: the ones to watch in 2017

The Bartender of the Year sponsored by Bacardi & De Kuyper will be back in 2017, but if you’re thinking about taking a crack at the title (meet this year’s Bartender of the Year here), take a look at the faces below — they’re the ones you’re going to need to beat.


Joe Sinagra, Bobeche

You’ve been in the Top 8 for the last four years — what was it like competing in the competition this year?
This year I felt quite comfortable. Being my fourth time I knew what was in store at each stage which helps massively with the nerves. Doing well is all about focus and not being nervous definitely helps with that. It was a great group in the Top 8 again this year and the vibe between all the Top 8 was awesome.


Will Cowley, Brooklyn Standard

You’re one of a few Queenslanders on the list, and you guys always represent well at the comp. What is it about the Brisbane scene that encourages this?
The Brisbane bartending community is a pretty tight-knit group so we all tend to help each other out -comparing notes, critiquing drinks. I think its this supportive environment along with the rapidly developing bar scene in Brisbane that pushes us to compete and compete well.



Brendon Osmers, The Gresham

You’ve been a regular fixture in the final round a few years now — can you tell us a bit about how you prepare for getting up before 500 people on the night?
The main day: wake up early, double check what you have and if you need to track anything down. Prep, and send people on errands, and before you know it… pretty up, suit up, and head off to set up and take photos at the awards. A relaxing beer, chat to the other competitors, set your drinks up and run through the drinks/sequence in your mind, and then relax and mingle. Closer to stage time, re-run everything in your head… some whiskey to calm any nerves, water to balance and keep the voice ready… and watch and soak in the other competitors performances and just enjoy it.


Priscilla Leong, The Barber Shop

It’s your second year in the Top 8 — can you tell us a bit about what it feels like to be up there on that stage?
I feel incredibly lucky that I managed to get back in to the Top 8 again. My goal from last year’s defeat was to work harder and try again. Not winning is not a failure. It is only another chance to learn from my mistakes and to try harder and to do better next time. Even though I was a bit disappointed in my performance, I’m honoured and glad to have shared that stage with so many people that I have admired. It was nonetheless an exhilarating experience.


Tom Egerton, Eau de Vie

Making the Top 8 was a bit of a surprise for you — what did you do to get ready for the final round?
It took me by surprise for sure, it seems that every year we set these goals to study for Bartender of the Year and then never really get around to it, with work pressures piling on until it’s the Sunday before the exam and the most studying you’ve done is putting googly eyes on magazine covers and not much else, but attending the exam is worth it, at the very least just to catch up with everyone at the pub after.
When you make the final round, the important thing is not to overthink it, to try anything you’re not comfortable with and try and execute it in front of six hundred people. Take inspiration from the bar you work in, your own personal style and build the drinks from there. And don’t forget to have a laugh too, it’s all a bit of fun right?

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