He didn't quite take out the title last week, but being named the third best bartender in the world at the 2021 World Class Bartender of the Year global finals is a "humbling honour" for Australian champion and Bathurst product Evan Stroeve.
Mr Stroeve competed against bartenders from 49 countries across the globe in the annual event, which was held virtually this year due to COVID and judged in London.
After making the top 10, Mr Stroeve fell agonisingly short in the final challenge, finishing behind Canada's James Grant and Great Britain's Mark McClintock.
But Mr Stroeve took out the event's bartender-led community initiative with his 'Martini Syndicate' project, raising around $8000 for the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation, a carbon offset partner of his choice.
"We needed to create an initiative that would impact the world around us, and the 'Martini Syndicate' saw 40 bars across Australia, New Zealand and the US come together to donate $1 from each sale of their own tailored drink for the cause," he said.
"The Aboriginal Carbon Foundation supplies training and employment to regional communities and champions Indigenous-led ecological land practices to combat climate change."
"Sustainability and recognition of our First Nations people are two causes pivotal to my mission as a bartender and businessman."
Mr Stroeve's respect and affinity for First Nations history was also prevalent in his Don Julio tequila challenge submission, which involved the use of native roots.
"I had around six minutes to discuss how integral our native root stock was to Indigenous Australian agriculture, with the book Dark Emu as a close reference," he said.
"Murnong [or yam daisy] was commonly harvested by numerous Indigenous language groups, so I linked the plant to my tequila submission to acknowledge Australia's cultural awakening in regards to the true representation of our First Nations people."
Other challenges included a Johnnie Walker highball tailored to each competitor's home city [in Mr Stroeve's case, Sydney] and a Tanqueray No. Ten task providing a tutorial in crafting a signature, citrus-based cocktail for people new to cocktail making.
For the final challenge, Mr Stroeve was tasked with creating a menu of four cocktails [each with a different whiskey] with an interconnected story inside five minutes.
Mr Stroeve dedicated each drink to a member of his family, which includes parents Hans and Wendy, and older brother Alex, with ingredients linked to certain memories.
"For example, my dad's parents originated from the Dutch East Indies [today Indonesia], so one of the drinks was inspired by the tropical fruit they lived around," he said.
"Dad's parents used to stockpile mangoes every summer and store them on a single bunk bed to slow down the ripening process, and Dad remembers knocking passionfruit off the vine while playing football with his brother, so that inspired my mango and passionfruit creation."
With the World Class Bartender of the Year global finals held virtually for the first time this year, Mr Stroeve said each filmed beverage was expertly prepared for the judges in London using the same ingredients.
"Competing on camera rather than in front of a live audience lessened the nerves, but on the flipside, it required greater attention towards crafting an engaging presentation," he said.
Mr Stroeve, who works at Re, a zero-waste cocktail bar in the inner-Sydney suburb of Eveleigh, said it was a privilege to represent Australia at a global level.
"We often look at New York and London as meccas of hospitality as they have so much history, but Australia has one of the oldest histories on the planet, and everything I do moving forward will look to promote our unique culture," he said.
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