Never Never launches inaugural national cocktail competition called ‘Step into the Never Never’

Photos by

Never Never Distilling Co. have launched an exciting new cocktail competition that is encouraging bartenders to work with fewer ingredients to create delicious drinks.

“I’ve always loved cocktail competitions,” says Co-Founder and Brand Director at Never Never Distilling Co. Sean Baxter. “The good ones were always a heap of fun and gave me confidence to pursue a career in the industry, which is remarkable considering I was a pretty average bartender,” he laughs.

‘Step Into the Never Never’ is a competition that aims to encourage bartenders of every skillset from all across Australia to get involved, regardless of the experience they possess behind the bar.

“We’ve tried to create a competition that still rewards and celebrates creativity, but not at the expense of simple, well-made drinks,” says Baxter. “The gin and tonic and the three-ingredient cocktail are some of the most common gin cocktails requested in venues and also the most delicious, so we wanted to create a cocktail competition that focuses on these two drinks in particular.”

‘Step Into the Never Never’ is a competition that aims to encourage bartenders of every skillset from all across Australia to get involved, regardless of the experience they possess behind the bar.

“Most bartenders have a few tasty variations of these gin classics in their repertoire, this is a chance to see if they are good enough to win you a great prize and join us for two days in South Australia,” he says.

The prize is incredible. One winner from each region will be flown down to South Australia from anywhere in the country and be given a two-day food and cocktail tour that celebrates all the flavours of the region. To be successful in the competition, bartenders first need to create a Never Never menu for their venue featuring one drink from each of the two categories.

Never Never kiwifruit & fennel flower Gimlet. Photos by

“It can be an insert, a chalk board, a projection, a pinboard, a holograph, a tattoo, although I’m not sure how your mum would feel about that one,” says Baxter. “It can even be written on the back of a coaster, whatever you feel works for your venue, just make sure it works as a menu and is live in venue from May the 8th, 2021.”

“It’s not something that is going to work for every bar and restaurant, we’re aware of that,” Baxter says, “but hopefully this gives opportunities to other bartenders and venues that might not always be up for the often lengthy challenge of the big global competitions.

“We’ve built the competition to be as inclusive as possible, attracting bartenders from all walks of life, as long as your motivated by putting as much flavour in the glass as possible, we want your entries.”

“Ultimately these are drinks that bartenders are familiar with, that would regularly feature on menus all over the country,” Baxter says, “this is an opportunity to show us your creativity to win a chance to spend a few days with us down in McLaren Vale.”

The tour not only takes in the Never Never Distillery located in McLaren Vale but also stops off at some of Adelaide’s award-winning restaurants such as Shobosho and Africola. Winners will also get the chance to enjoy Adelaide’s best bars such as Maybe Mae, Hains&Co, 2KW, NOLA, Memphis Slim’s House of Blues and many more.

“The prize isn’t just about eating and drinking in some amazing venues,” says Baxter, “it’s about getting the opportunity to go on an adventure curated by some of the best hospitality professionals in the country, our winners are going to be in safe hands.”

Never Never will also be running a few very special Bartender Challenges for the finalists occurring over the two days where they get the chance to win some amazing cash prizes. It is inspired by their Never Never Have I Ever set of challenges the gin brand created during the lock downs of 2020.

Never Never rhubarb crumble negroni. Photos by

Special guest judges will be flown in from around the country to be responsible for judging the bartender challenges and will also act as mentors across the entire two-day experience. These personalities will be announced over the coming months but will offer an exciting opportunity for bartenders to learn from some of the best minds in the industry.

“We want the winners from this experience to emerge not only with a newfound appreciation for Adelaide, but to also understand the hospitality values that drive us and the people who inspire us,” Baxter says. “That’s what stepping into the Never Never is all about.”

The prize for the winning South Australian entry is a little different, with the Never Never team flying the winner to Sydney Bar Week to take part in the official festivities as well as being invited to take part in the cocktail and food tour.

The competition will be open to bartenders from any venue across Australia, they just need to ensure they are promoting their Step Into the Never Never menus featuring their two drinks from May 8th, 2021.

To find out more information on the competition please reach out to your friendly neighbourhood Proof&Co representative. For all drink details, dates, judging criteria and terms and conditions you can follow the link to the Never Never Distilling Co. website here into-the-never-never-cocktail-competition