You are currently viewing ESCA’s Cocktail Competition ’24

ESCA’s Cocktail Competition ’24

Last Wednesday, ESCA’s bartenders gathered for a spirited cocktail-making showdown orchestrated by Vanguard Luxury Brand and hosted by the Sam Hulston, Four Pillars’ Gin Ambassador.

Judging the finale were ESCA’s Food and Beverage Director, Mark Anderson; ESCA’s Group Bar Manager, Kerry Burgess; Jason Crawley, Founder/Owner of Crawley’s Bartender Syrups; and Tayla Kendall, Trade Marketing Executive at Vanguard Luxury Brands. The five finalists presented their cocktails, vying for the ultimate prize of featuring the winning cocktail across all ESCA venues in July, along with an enticing trip to the Four Pillars Distillery in Healesville, Victoria. The atmosphere was electric as colleagues cheered on our competitors who poured their hearts and heritage into their concoctions. 

Abigail De la Cruz impressed with her cocktail “Harmony,” which blended apple-infused Gospel Solera Rye Whiskey, Morris Rutherglen Smoked Muscat Whisky, lemon, and a sorrel leaf garnish. Drawing inspiration from her team at Aalia, Abigail crafted a drink that embodied the harmony and camaraderie she experienced at work. Her creation was a fusion of the whisky sour and penicillin cocktails, resulting in a balanced and harmonious flavour profile. 

Elena Marchand presented “Kingsford Smith,” a modern twist on the classic Paper Plane cocktail. Her version, named after the legendary Australian pilot Kingsford Smith, featured Morris Rutherglen Whisky, Rhubi Mistelle, Marionette Bitter Curaçao, Lemon, and Orange.  

Charlie Howard’s “Red Rhubi” was a refreshing highball inspired by the Hiragana Highball at Ito. Combining Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin, Marionette Bitter Curaçao, Rhubi Mistelle, Beetroot, and Soda, this cocktail was designed for ease of preparation and batching, making it a practical yet delightful choice to implement across all venues–a business owner’s dream. 

Joe Chan’s creation, “The Blockbuster,” with its innovative combination of Iron Goddess Tea and apricot-infused Gospel Solera Rye Whiskey, Brandy, Crawley’s vanilla, and a salted caramel popcorn garnish. Joe’s inspiration came from his reflections on “home,” drawing from his experiences in both Australia and Hong Kong. He opted for Australian ingredients with the theme of Hong Kong memories. The cocktail was a nostalgic nod to his childhood, recalling moments spent watching movies with his father.  

Beth Harris captivated the judges and the audience with her cocktail, “Albi.” This exquisite blend featured coconut-washed Gospel Solera Rye Whiskey, Broken Bean Liquor, Crawley’s Coconut, and Orange Bitters. Every ingredient used was from the Vanguard portfolio, a sure way to impress the judges. Albi was more than just a cocktail; it was a heartfelt tribute to Beth’s Lebanese heritage and her beloved grandmother. The name “Albi,” meaning “my love” in Arabic, is a term of endearment her grandmother used when they were young. The Broken Bean Liquor, sourced from the Central Coast where her grandmother lives, added a personal touch to the drink, tying her childhood memories into the drink. 

After careful deliberation from our expert judges, who assessed creativity, flavour profile, and presentation, Beth and her cocktail ‘Albi’ emerged victorious. ESCA’s cocktail competition was more than just an event; it was a celebration of creativity, culture, and community. A special thank you to each bartender who entered and brought a piece of their story to their creations. Beth’s winning cocktail, ‘Albi,’ will grace all ESCA cocktail lists throughout July, so be sure to visit any ESCA venue to give it a try. 

read more