World Class Australia Finals: Cocktail & Food Pairing at Sokyo

The World Class Australia Cocktail and Food Pairing dinner took place at Sokyo Restaurant in Sydney. Part of three days of cocktail challenges for the competition, ten finalists had to create a cocktail to complement one of five courses prepared by Sokyo’s Head Chef Chase Kojima.

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World Class Australia Finals 

Judges, trade, media and consumers at the dinner had the opportunity to vote for their favourite cocktail through a series of ratings.

Guests were welcomed with Ketel One vodka and tonic at the bar before the rules of voting were explained. Not all ten cocktails were to be served to each guest, with tables split between the two cocktails that were paired with each dish. Every bartender had to explain to guests at each table the philosophy behind the food and cocktail pairing.

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Button konbu poached scampi, foie gras torchon, apple mizuna salad, lime ginger

The dinner started with an amuse bouche of utton konbu poached scampi with foie gras torchon, apple mizuna salad and lime ginger to prime the palate.

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Whiting sashimi usuzukuri, rocoto chilli, mache, sesame, white soy

The first course was thinly sliced whiting sashimi usuzukuri with rocoto chilli, mache, sesame and white soy paired with Hari No Yuki or Snow in Spring cocktail by Phil Gandevia from The Roosevelt in NSW.

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Phil Gandevia (Dr Phil) (left) explaining his cocktail

Made with Ciroc Vodka, mandarin, with hints of savoury and spice, the cocktail which is topped with ice, came with instructions to “eat the snow”.

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Tim Philips with Sesa-Who? Sesa-Me Sour

The other cocktail paired with the first course was Sesa-Who? Sesa-Me Sour by Tim Philips of Hemmesphere NSW, made with fresh lime and celery bitters shaken with baby beetroot-infused Ciroc vodka, complemented with sesame aromatics.

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Seared snapper truffle poke, fresh truffles, chillies, coriander, grilled king brown mushrooms

The second course was seared snapper truffle poke, fresh truffles, chillies, coriander, grilled king brown mushrooms which was paired with a two part cocktail.

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Michael Chiem with Tally Tea

Tally Tea by Michael Chiem of Black by Ezard in NSW had the smoky Talisker 10 year old single malt with Campari and Lillet Blanc served alongside Genmai chai with roasted brown rice.

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Joel Persson with Chopsticks Sour

The other paired cocktail was Chopsticks Sour by Joel Persson of The Alchemist in Victoria, described as a fiery ginger sour with infused Tanqueray no. Ten gin together with tart Pariya berries and sweet hibiscus liquor finished with a smoky hint of Talisker.

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Abalone tempura green tea salt, yuzu dressing

Abalone tempura with green tea salt served with yuzu dressing was the third course which was paired with Matcha Match cocktail by Perryn Collier from Laneway in Queensland.

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Matcha Match

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Perryn Collier (left) with Matcha Match cocktail

Described as a delicate drink with gently acidity, the cocktail had green tea infused Ciroc vodka combined with Chardonnay verjus, sparkling wine and a touch of Talisker 10 yo.

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Fred Siggins with Memoirs of a Cocktail

The other cocktail match was Memoirs of a Cocktail by Fred Siggins of the Kodiak Club in Victoria, “sweet and cleansing, complex and beautiful, like a spring rain of Ciroc vodka dripping with plum blossoms.”

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Grilled lamb loin, pickled daikon, zucchini, ponzu emulsion

Next course was the grilled lamb loin, pickled daikon, zucchini and ponzu emulsion paired with Fresh is Best Cobbler by Ryan Gavin of Rockpool Bar & Grill in NSW.

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Ryan Gavin with Fresh is Best Cobbler

Made with Tanqueray No. Ten gin with mandarin and parsley, the cocktail was rather acidic and meant to contrast the dish rather than complement it.

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Dan Gregory with Cuillin Hills Cocktail

The other cocktail was Cuillin Hills by Dan Gregory of Black Pearl in Victoria, a drink where the gentle smoke from the Talisker 10 yo was matched with the sweetness of fresh cherries and finished with an aromatic chai tea sweet vermouth.

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Crispy spiced tuna & tai ceviche sushi

The last course to be paired was crispy spiced tuna and tai ceviche sushi matched with a sweet and savoury cocktail.

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Callan Green with Clockface Cocktail

Clockface Cocktail by Callan Green of Lily Blacks in Victoria matches Tanqueray No. Ten gin with the spicy sushi dish.

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Angus Burton with Fruit de la Passion

Fruit de la Passion by Angus Burton of Canvas in Queensland was the other match, a Tanqueray No. Ten gin martini with coconut shrub, citrus mustards, umami and a drop of Johnnie Walker Gold.

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Butterscotch miso, coconut tapioca, lemongrass icecream, red tea foam

The final course, which was not part of the competition was butterscotch miso with coconut tapioca, lemongrass icecream topped with red tea foam and served with with Ron Zacapa 23 rum.

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Chase Kojima, Head Chef of Sokyo

Diageo’s World Class Australia Cocktail and Food Pairing dinner was held at Sokyo at the Star on June 12, 2012. The winner, Tim Philips was announced on Wednesday 13 June 2012 at a special presentation at the Roosevelt Cocktail Bar and Restaurant in Potts Point.

For photographs of the bar action, visit Gourmantic on Facebook.

Gourmantic attended the event as media guests.

Update – Dec 2012: Tim D Philips has since opened his new bar, Bulletin Place in Sydney.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.