Meet Patrón's Top Ten Australian Bartenders

Words by Jane Ryan

Meet Patrón's Top Ten Australian Bartenders image 1

Patrón Perfectionists is a global competition which asks bartenders around the world to to showcase their skills and share their pursuit of perfectionism. Here is Australia's final 10 for 2021.

We all know Australia has some amazing talent behind its bars, something competitions only serve to highlight - bringing us new names from cities we don't get to spend nearly enough time in. When Patrón put the call out for entries this year a huge amount of creative and skilled bartenders responded. The following 10 have made it from 50 to 30 to this final list, and will now go on to compete in the virtual finals judged by a global panel. These are some of the very best bartenders working in Australia right now, serving up some hyper-delicious tequila cocktails.

DANIELLA DARAKIS, The Gresham, Brisbane

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Tell us about yourself: "I have worked in hospitality for 6 years. As well as working in hospitality, I also study fashion design. I enjoy working with my hands and being able to express my creativity, which I feel bartending allows me to do. In my spare time I enjoy reading, hiking, sewing and drawing."

What is the inspiration behind your drink, A Sunny Afternoon? "A Sunny Afternoon" is designed to evoke feelings of enjoying a drink outdoors with friends. The spritz style of drink is designed to be approachable, bright and refreshing. Lately I feel we have all been encouraged to enjoy the little things more, such as good company and nice weather and wanted to create something that could be enjoyed by everyone at anytime."

NICCOLO MAFFEZZONI, Trader Bar, Darwin

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Tell us about yourself: "I'm 26 years old, and I'm from Rome, Italy. I've been working behind the bar for the last 5 years. When I was 23, my wife and I decided to start travelling and eventually move to Australia. We fell in love with the Australian easy-going way of life, and we settled down in Darwin, NT, just two years ago. I manage The Trader Bar in Darwin, which is a beautiful, hidden and tropical boutique Cocktail Bar very close to the CBD. I have always been a big fan of Patrón tequila and I enjoy sipping Reposado on the rocks in front of a sunset, anywhere around the world, with my wife."

What is the inspiration behind your drink, La Capitana? "Patrón's NOM, which indicated where the tequila comes from, is 1492. This led me to think about the year Christopher Columbus travelled to America. Can you believe before this journey Italy had never heard of tomatoes? Every time I think about cherry tomatoes I think about my Nonno. He's a farmer in the countryside of Rome, and I still remember spending time with him cooking and eating together. Every time I was back from school he used to make me bread with cherry tomatoes and thyme.

My drink mixes Mexican and Italian cultures: Mexican, with the delicate oak wood notes of Patrón Reposado and Lime. The cherry tomatoes made their way from Mexico to the US and then to Italy, where Nonno and I mixed them with thyme and honey."

PAURIC KENNEDY, Barangaroo House, Sydney

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Tell us about yourself: I am a passionate hospitality professional who has worked in the industry for over 15 years. I love what I do, and the people I do it with. I have worked my way up into a relatively new role within my company which encompasses all aspects of hospitality, including creative, training, guest relations and all the other fun stuff! This new role works alongside my current role, which is Beverage Manager of Barangaroo House, Sydney."

What is the inspiration behind your drink, The Journey "My inspiration is about a journey. Not specifically my own, but the one that we all take. A journey undergoes many different stages, including change, evolution, rebirth, and renewal. All of which are represented in the story of Patron tequila and their own personal story. Patron changed the face of tequila forever, and were responsible for the birth of premium tequila.

My cocktail "The Journey" is an homage to my new role. In this new role, I get to work with some of our younger staff and help them to become better by guiding them and teaching them as much of what I have learned over my own personal journey. I have loosely based my drink on a Margarita, and have showcased it to my staff to let them see that the evolution of a cocktail has no bounds, but the core foundation will always be there...much like a Jimador uses a Coa to cut the outer leaves to reveal the heart of the pina."

REBECCA BAYLEY, Cielo Rooftop, Brisbane

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Tell us about yourself: "Currently working at Cielo Rooftop in Brisbane, a collaboration between the Salt Meats Cheese Group and the Maybe Sammy crew. I've been working in the industry for around 6 years, and started participating in competitions around 2 years ago. I enjoy the challenge competitions offer and the self education along the way. "

What is the inspiration behind your drink, Homespun? "During the pandemic, we've all been forced away from bars and enjoy our favourite spirits in our own homes. While we often are impressed with theatrics and techniques in our local cocktail bars, Patrón doesn’t need it all to be delicious and appreciated. The sixty hands at the distillery are that are needed make it so enjoyable, but let’s introduce two more in the creation of this Patrón cocktail.

I wanted to design a flavourful cocktail that enhances the tasting notes of Patrón with ingredients that most of us already stock in our own pantries. Orange marmalade, vanilla essence and sugar are all products that are useful and have longevity, and often sit forgotten in the pantry. These all work harmoniously the citrus and vanilla oaky aroma and flavour of Patrón Reposado. The result is ‘Homespun’, a sweet and citrusy concoction that any Patrón lover can replicate and enjoy at home. "

PRAVIN PHUYAL, Hot Tamale, Darwin

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Tell us about yourself: "I have been a bartender for three years now, but my career has only been developed strongly over the past 12 months when I moved to Darwin. I was lucky enough to become part of a great bartending team with mentors who really care and want to train. Including a couple of past Perfectionists."

What is the inspiration behind your drink, Inspiración 1492? "Inspiration for my drink comes from the culture, passion and feeling that is reflected in a bottle of Patrón. Culture of perfecting the tequila with a passionate hand involved in the process and the feeling that emerges while drinking Patrón makes it unique. This inspires me to make a drink, which not only tastes good but gives that aesthetic pleasure a feeling of warmth that urges people to order another one and a drink that is made by 100% blue agave Tequila. I want to create something that is not made by just a hand but a handful of hands that have been passionate about premium tequila and been a part of Patrón perfection for a long time passing the passion and inspiration throughout the process."

HARRISON KENNEY, Cantina OK!, Sydney

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Tell us about yourself: "Hello! I’m Harrison Kenney and I currently work at Cantina OK! No.28 in World’s 50 Best Bars. My hospitality journey started 7 years ago, 1 week after my 18th birthday, clearing glassware from tables. From that day I set my goal to the North Star, a marker that shines bright and leads you towards a meaningful and important destination. A world where empathy, kindness and exceptional service is the quotidian. I live and breathe hospitality and weaving dreams behind the bar is what I love. Serving the perfect cocktail to turn someone’s day around is so emotionally fulfilling. I will say if there’s one thing I love as much as enlightened hospitality it’s agave! Patrón PERFECTIONIST is the most ideal competition for me to enter so please enjoy my entry!"

What is the inspiration behind your drink, Teal? "Teal is a celebration of the green top notes of Patrón blanco reminiscent of fresh cut grass, lime zest and eucalyptus. It’s drink that’s with the essence of an Agua de alfalfa! Colours and aromas that bring memories of fall afternoons in Mexico! Pleasant, unexpected and thirst quenching.

There’s also nothing quite like celery juice after taco dorados FYI. Fabian Con Hauske is a Mexican chef who brought vanilla olive oil to my attention, vanilla was first cultivated by the Totonacs of Mexico’s East Coast, the oil adds the most delightful mouth feel, the specks of vanilla through the oil, floating on a vibrant green drink, look just like fresh cut kiwi’s. A truly cosmic and delightful sip. With all GREEN ingredients and BLUE agave, I present to you my entry, TEAL."

AIDEN RODRIQUEZ, Eau de Vie, Melbourne

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Tell us about yourself: "I am a duty manager at Eau de Vie Melbourne, I have worked in cocktail bars in Australia, the United Kingdom, Norway and Sweden. I love doing competitions and the Patron Perfectionist is an amazing opportunity I am excited to be apart of! I entered last year and had a great time learning how to sculpt with clay, now I am stoked to get to showcase my skills once again!"

What is the inspiration behind your drink, Casa Del Jimador? "The Casa Del Jimador, or House of the Jimador, is a dedication to some of the unsung heroes of Patron Tequila, the Jimadors. Patron is well known for its inclusion of the community and this cocktail will take you inside the house of a Jimador and reflect back on flavours reflective of all family generations. The cocktail itself is strong, yet delicate, a true representation of the art of the Jimador, they must be strong for the physical aspect of their harvest, but delicate when carving the piña."

The Casa Del Jimador uses flavours of strawberry, the first flavour I learned to love as a child. Braulio Amaro brings herbaceous and piney notes, reminiscent of Christmas. Dry Sherry brings back memories of grandparents sipping Sherry by the fireplace, with black tea for a heavy tanin mouthfeel once again reminiscent of times spent with extended family. A single drop of Balsamic vinegar adds length and depth of flavour, and also represents ones journey into maturity, the feeling of completion when you move into your own home."

GRACE RAWLINS, Memphis Slims House of Blues, Adelaide

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Tell us about yourself: "I started my hospitality career at Maybe Mae in February 2020, I fell in love with it instantly and found such a major passion for it. I now currently work as the Assistant Manager now at Memphis slims House Of Blues in Adelaide SA working full time there. In my free time i like to head back to my home town of Port Pirie SA to see my family and enjoy to outdoors. I have such a passion for creating and exploring new things, I'm really enjoying my hospitality career and just want to learn more everyday. "

What is the inspiration behind your drink, Mamacita? "Before even looking at the ingredients list I really wanted to try and create a delicious umami drink but still making it super fresh and enjoyable to consume. When I saw Coriander and Soy Sauce my inspiration grew even more. I know these flavours worked very well together it was then my challenge to try and create that delicious flavour through an amazing drink.

Pairing it with Patrón Reposado really complimented all the flavours yet still allowed Patrón Reposado to be the hero flavour in this drink. Highlighting the Caramel, honey notes in Patrón Reposado means everything really compliments each other. A tasty sweet, herbal drink with a giant burst of flavour that I feel can be enjoying at night time or with a meal complimenting food. This cocktail was a pleasure to create and make, I hope you enjoy. "

CORINA RETTER, Capitano, Melbourne

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Tell us about yourself: "I started my hospitality career on the otherside of the bar, through out a 15 year career my interest in all things cocktail grew. With stints as a Venue Manager at Made in the Shade's, Bar Margaux, and then Capitano I've got to know my way around a tasty beverge. For me, its all about the guest experience, as well as a delicious drink."

What is the inspiration behind your drink, Silver Daisy? "This is a twist on a classic Margarita, inspired by the spanish translation of Margarita, a Daisy. Driven by fragrant Silver jasmine blossom tea and Mandarin oranges, this drink pairs fresh citrus with a touch of salt and Patrón's Silver Tequila to create a simple, fresh and zesty drinking experience."

SION ROBERTS, Dead Ringer, Sydney

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Tell us about yourself: "I’m Sion (pronounced Shaun) and have recently moved to Australia, having grown up in a small village in far North Wales surrounded by my beautiful family. I am currently working for the talented Tim Phillips at Dead Ringer in Sydney. I have finally found my passion in bartending and a sense of self through my experience across the world and the home I have found at Dead Ringer. I'm thriving for perfection in my own recipes and skill although I know there is so much more to master I’m extremely excited to pursue the title of Patron Perfectionist, another fantastic opportunity to learn from more masters and a grow my budding passion."

What is the inspiration behind your drink, Unity?
"My aim was to create a cocktail where I could not only inspire a variety of people to make a beautiful cocktail themselves, but to encourage them to use fresh locally sourced ingredients to help the community. My inspiration stemmed from my Nanna who had fresh, local ingredients all around her home, from her own fruit in the garden, to a neighbour's herbs in the kitchen.

Patrón’s engagement with the preservation the community around the Atotonilco el Alto, Jalisco, interested me and connected with my life back home in Wales. My nana was the heart of the community in my village, cooking for locals, supporting schools with volunteer work or even taking next door neighbour's washing off the line when it started to rain."

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