Woodford Reserve is sending Australia’s best bartender to New York City

For the first time in the Woodford Reserve Australia Cocktail Competition’s four-year history, Australian bartenders have the chance to compete for a position at the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience final in New York City. The talented individual is also guaranteed a three-day immersive experience at the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Kentucky.

From Sunday 1 July, bartenders from across the country are invited to enter the prestigious competition by producing an original Woodford Reserve Rye cocktail recipe. Round one requires entrants to use 30ml minimum of the premium whiskey and maximum of six ingredients per cocktail.

Bartenders who qualify for the second round are required to create their ideal version of the classic OldFashioned using Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select, feature the signature drink on their venue’scocktail menu, and promote the cocktail on the venue’s social media channels.

Brown-Forman representatives will visit the successful venues to judge each of the Woodford Reserve Old Fashioned cocktail creations, which is followed by state heats and then the national final in Melbourne in October.


One lucky Australian winner is flown to Kentucky – all expenses paid – for the ultimate three-day Woodford Reserve experience, where they join up to 50 American bartenders and compete in the Woodford Reserve U.S Manhattan Experience semi-final. If successful, the Australian contender is flown to New York City to contest for the coveted title and prize of Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience Champion.

In 2017, the competition saw creative bourbon whiskey cocktails with ingredients including smoked pineapple syrup, black walnut bitters, creamed corn syrup, cedar wood smoke and salted maple syrup. It was never going to be easy to crown a winner, but it was Matt Linklater’s Natural Order with Woodford Reserve Rye, pomegranate vinegar, grenadine, white ale umeshu, soap bark extract and limonata that won the judges over.

“The skill we’ve seen throughout the last few years of this competition is second to none, and all of the contestants do a fantastic job of showcasing the versatility and rich flavour profile of Woodford Reserve,” says Dimitra Tassopoulos, Brand Manager for Woodford Reserve.

The Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience final is taking place in New York City in May 2019. Entries close midnight 22 July. To submit your entry and for further information, click here.