The six South African finalists in this year’s Patrón Perfectionists Cocktail Competition have been announced and they now prepare to go head-to-head in the pursuit of being crowned as the ultimate cocktail perfectionist in the country.
The national culmination of the competition will see the top six pour their hearts and skills into two challenges that will test their understanding and creativity in crafting a great and unique tequila cocktail.
As part of the first leg of the competition, entrants were challenged to demonstrate their skills and expertise by creating a cocktail inspired by their hometown.
The hometown hero cocktail required them to blend Patrón silver tequila with their culture by using ingredients from a prescribed list. The entries were judged on appeal, appearance, inspiration, and originality.
Here’s what you need to know about the top six.
Jason Thomas (Jeffrey’s Bay, Eastern Cape)
Bar: The Mexican Bay
Hometown hero cocktail and inspiration: Tierra (which means earth) –
"I've always had a very healthy respect for natural produce; we so dearly underestimate what comes from the ground and grows from the earth itself. It was easy once I found what I wanted to do and where I was getting my inspiration. I wanted to show respect for the fantastic people who provided us with these great products and those that craft this versatile tequila that allows us to create perfection – Patrón.”
Richie Nahkala (Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal)
Bar: Alchemy Ballito
Hometown hero cocktail and inspiration: Humble Beginnings
“Patron as a brand evokes elegance and class, history and authenticity. This is a concept that resonates with me as a professional, and it’s the essence that I have attempted to capture in my cocktail. My journey as a bartender began in a small village pub in Sarratt, England, and has landed me in South Africa doing what I love most – creating cocktails.”
Sabrina Traubner (Cape Town, Western Cape)
Bar: European Bartender School
Hometown hero cocktail and inspiration: Green Rocket
“Sparletta Creme Soda is a cotton candy vanilla soft drink that every local has connected with a fond memory. It's often referred to as the 'Green Ambulance' and is enjoyed during the day after a lekker jol. For some, it is more than just a magical hangover cure. This neon green mixer has become a South African staple – its shocking colour and playful taste are enjoyed by all– as a Creme Soda float' for kids or a 'Green Mamba' for grown folks. Creme Soda sparks up a carefree, innocent time of one's life. It reminds you of how simple and bright everything was when you were younger. Then eventually, as you grow older, your outlook on life shifts. Its green colour inspires those who dare to try something out-of-the-ordinary.”
Sash Hale (Chartwell, Gauteng)
Bar: City Lodge
Hometown hero cocktail and inspiration: The Shrub
“My hometown inspiration comes from the sustainability lessons taught to me by my mother, and the natural process of how Patrón agaves are produced. We were taught not to waste. Use what we picked and replant what we can.”
Charne van Heerden (Cape Town, Western Cape)
Bar: The House of Machines
Hometown hero cocktail and inspiration: Reminiscence
“Life is a journey filled with memories that shape who you are today. They help remind us where we come from and our potential to go further. I grew up in a small town where koeksisters are a norm – a treat enjoyed with friends and family, on the road, or at home. Every bite of its sweet caramel and coconut flavours takes me one step closer to my hometown and sparks nostalgia for some of the best times of my life growing up. Similar to the feeling one gets when sipping on any Patrón infused cocktail. Like churros, koeksisters can be made in many versions bringing culture to the maker’s home. They are a sinful dessert, well worth any time of the day, best enjoyed with a cup of tea, reminiscing about what treasures life has brought you.”
Brent Davids (Johannesburg, Gauteng)
Hometown hero cocktail and inspiration: Only Us – We are all we got.
"Sitting in the kitchen with my mom making soup for dinner and naive me thinking, where's the meat? I didn't fully appreciate the soup, let alone what was happening there. As much as I wasn't the biggest fan of soup, butternut soup always touched my soul positively. So much so that it worked its way up into my romantic relationships where my partner and I would conjure up some butternut soup to share, mostly because it’s simple and easy but also because it tastes so good. These wholesome memories of being brought together by food inspired the idea of using butternut to elevate 'Only Us'. The butternut helps unlock the fresh grassy notes of Patrón and honey-like sweetness from the agave. Sipping on this brings memories of love and life through a drink, hopefully, shared with those closest to you.”
Cameron Hawkins, sub-Saharan Africa brand ambassador for Bacardi in South Africa says the country is a fusion of colourful blends of culture, and it is always exciting to see how the participants interpret these into their cocktail masterpiece.
The SA finale takes place in Cape Town on November 28 and the winner will join19 other national winners and wildcard entrants at the much-coveted global finals experience in March 2023 in Hacienda Patrón, Mexico.
Have you checked out the latest IOL Food & Drinks digital magazine? Read it here.