Joseph Chisholm interviews Alex Boon, Australia’s Patrón Perfectionists Champion for 2022

Introduction & Interview by Joseph Chisholm

THAT’S A WRAP! The 2022 Patrón Perfectionists Competition has come to a thrilling close. Every year, Patrón invites bartenders from around the world to showcase their skills and share their pursuit of perfection. It’s much more than a cocktail competition, it is a journey of discovery, taste, and community. This year after two days of judging, Alex Boon from Pearl Diver Cocktail and Oysters in Melbourne was crowned our Australian Champion. Alex is a hospitality icon and Pearl Diver is on the cutting edge of our industry. I sat down with Alex just after he won to get an insight into how he was feeling about being Australian Champion.

Alex, you’ve just been named Australia’s Patrón Perfectionists Champion for 2022. How did you feel holding that trophy? It felt great, a little surreal to be honest. I put a serious amount of work into my cocktails and my presentation so it was lovely to see it pay off but there were some amazing drinks and presentations from the other bartenders also.

What was your inspiration for the 60 Hands Highball? The challenge asked us to compound flavours using a single ingredient. I chose my favourite fruit, the mango and got creative with different ways I could manipulate its flavour. The name of the drink is centred around how many people it takes to create one bottle of Patrón tequila, as did my cocktail, which also took a lot of input from many different people before I was happy to serve it.

“I put a serious amount of work into my cocktails and my presentation so it was lovely to see it pay off but there were some amazing drinks and presentations from the other bartenders also.” Alex Boon

Your garnish for the 60 Hands Highball was a standout – talk me through the process? I wanted to use mango in three different ways for the garnish to really set the stage for the highball to follow. What I ended up with was a very light mango and fennel leaf syrup, suspended in that syrup was a mango puree sphere and inside that sphere was a ball of fresh mango flesh. The idea was to sip the trio back, let the flavours coat the judges’ palates before sipping through the lean, bright and bubbly highball. I’m also a big fan of multi-textured garnishes.

What drew you to use Patrón Silver in both your cocktails? Mostly its versatility, but also with my first cocktail I wanted a juxtaposing spirit to stand out against rich and sweet ingredients like horchata and honey as I felt Reposado and Añejo tequila would get lost.

What made you enter Patrón Perfectionists? Going to Mexico to represent Australia in the finals looks like so much fun but I also really wanted to inspire myself after a very long year and what better way to do it than see what 9 amazing bartenders are doing around Australia.

Alex with the other nine Australian finalists from 2022

How would you describe your experience at the Australian National Final? Super fun, I enjoyed every minute of it. Hanging out with the other 9 competitors was great and everyone brought their own personality and charisma to the group so it was a pleasure hanging out with them all and getting to know everyone better than when we first arrived. The Bacardi team also made the competition super relaxed and an enjoyable experience.

Was there one moment of the Australian National Final that stood out for you? The very heated conversation of which 3 condiments we would all choose at dinner on the first night.

What are you looking forward to most about the Global Finals? The same thing I was looking forward to in the nationals, meeting inspiring people, seeing what they are doing in this industry, going home a little better than when I arrived, fingers crossed with another trophy in hand.

There will be another set of challenges for the Global Finals, what challenges would you love to see? A speed round would be epic, especially with the shape of those Patrón bottles!

Let’s not beat around the bush, you’re an old dog and have been in many competitions before, but do you still get nervous? Always! Competition experience hasn’t taught me to not get nervous, it’s just taught me to be able to hide it better.

Can I come into Pearl Diver and enjoy the 60 Hands Highball? You sure can, we will be running both my competition drinks until I head to Mexico in March.

What is your oyster recommendation to enjoy with Patrón Silver and why? I would choose a Sydney rock oyster that spends its life in areas with high organic matter as I think that umami and vegetal characteristics would pair wonderfully with the grassy and peppery spice of the tequila.

What would you say to bartenders who are considering entering the competition next year? Give it a crack! It’s an awesome opportunity and win, lose or draw you get something out of the experience.

50ml PATRÓN Silver
20ml Good Oloroso Sherry
17.5ml Tasmanian Honey
60ml Uncle Tobys Oat Hortchata
1 Pinch Sea Salt
Whisk with a small amount of crushed ice in a milkshake maker
and strain into highball glass over cubed ice.
Garnish with Aleppo pepper infused dark chocolate

60 Hands Highball 45ml PATRÓN Silver 15ml Mango Liquor 15ml Verjuice 20ml Lacto fermented mango syrup 60ml clarified mango juice Carbonated and served over ice in a highball Garnished with mango three-ways sphere

This article is the cover story in the December issue of Australian Bartender magazine. 

If you’re interested in competing in Patrón Perfectionists in 2023, reach out to your Bacardi Martini rep.