Moutai, the most revered spirit in China, revealed the much-anticipated winner of their ‘Enter The Dragon’ cocktail competition at an industry wrap party at Hot Sauce, QT Melbourne on Monday night. Ray Letoa from New Zealand’s Roxy Cinema was crowned Moutai Master, with his cocktail ‘Descendant’s Elixir’.
Now in its second year, Enter The Dragon broadened its scope to include not only Australian hopefuls but New Zealand’s elite, making this a truly trans-Tasman competition. Competitors were tasked with using Australian and New Zealand native flavours in their cocktail creations. Letoa exceeded the judges’ expectations by incorporating a special New Zealand native ingredient, Piko Piko plant, to create Dragon’s beard fairy floss placed on top of the foam of his cocktail, served with an iced fog effect.
Ray Letoa said of his victory, “Words can’t explain how humbled and honoured I am to be the first competitor from New Zealand and to battle it out amongst these talented bartenders. To have taken out the main prize is an achievement I will remember forever. I want to say a big thank you to Moutai and the judges for this awesome competition which has given bartenders another creative outlet”.
Jenny Chiu, Moutai’s Brand Manager, said: “We were thrilled by the calibre of the finalists. The depth of knowledge about Moutai, and the dedication put into the Moutai cocktail recipes and the overall competition has amazed all our judges. We challenged each bartender’s cocktail making skills, product knowledge and presentation, but also challenged them with creating a Moutai cocktail on the spot to match with the exquisite cuisine created by MasterChef 2017 winner Diana Chan.”
The nail-biting final cocktail combat took on Monday afternoon in front of an esteemed panel of judges including:
- Tash Conte, Owner of Black Pearl
- Dylan Howarth, Director and Co-Founder of The Drink Cabinet
- Bobby Carey, Enter The Dragon’s 2015 Winner
- Jenny Chiu, KweiChow Moutai Business Manager (Australia & New Zealand)
- Diana Chan, Winner of Masterchef Australia 2017
- David Burrows, Bars Manager at QT Melbourne
The competition was narrowed down to five finalists:
- Ray Letoa, Roxy Cinema, NZ – ‘Descendant’s Elixir’
- Kevin Peters, Garden State Hotel, VIC – ‘Year of The Snake’
- Joe Singara. Halford, WA – ‘Lucky 8’
- Thomas Egan, New Gold Mountain VIC – ‘Xiao Long’
- Quynh Van Nguyen, Charlie Parker’s, NSW – ‘It’s Native Fizz Thyme’
The top 5 finalists were then tested for their creativity and expertise, challenged with creating a classic cocktail on the spot using Moutai, which was to be paired with one of three canapes designed by Diana Chan – smoked beef tartare with caviar, salmon blini with whipped cod roe, and pork belly with sticky sauce and wasabi mayonnaise.
The ‘Enter The Dragon’ Cocktail Combat competition was created as an inspiring and unique way to engage Australian bartenders with the spirit. Ray Letoa will be flown to historic China to experience and learn the ancient and modern techniques of Moutai production, followed by two nights exploring the hustle and bustle Hong Kong.