It’s a bit surreal

Did you see the pink super moon last night? I missed it because I was schmoozing underground at an event called Diageo WORLD CLASS. It’s a cocktail competition that saw Evan Stroeve from RE bar in Sydney, Kayla Saito from Leonardo’s Pizza Palace in Melbourne and David Aznar from Rosella’s on the Gold Coast battle to become this year’s Australian World Class Bartender of the Year. 

The dress code was “cocktail with a touch of gold”, but the only gold thing I own is a 10-year-old Country Road shirt that I had to wear like a jacket because it’s about two sizes too small these days. Even then, it felt like it was going to rip across the back – like I was turning into the Incredible Hulk – every time I reached for something.

It was held at a classy little spot called Paramount House Golden Age Bar, where I was handed a mini martini at the door, which was poured from a little tap in an ice sculpture. Fancy.

I was also offered a canapé by a handsome young fellow and then I ran into the lovely Jane from Difford’s Guide, who I met at that fancy Poly dinner I attended few weeks ago.

She introduced me to a couple of famous bartenders and former World Class winners called Alex Boon and Orlando Marzo, who were judges at the event. Orlando and I exchanged contact details … purely for business purposes.

I’d never met Alex before, but I’d run into Orlando when he was making the cocktails (below) at a Johnnie Walker function at Bondi Icebergs a few years ago when the world was pandemic free and innocent.

The finalists had already gone head to head earlier in the day in two bartending challenges and I watched them in the Challenge 3, the Speed Round. The Speed Round involves them testing their skills to make as many cocktails as possible in 10 minutes.

Tensions were running high and Evan (left) was eventually declared the winner, but I wasn’t there for the victory dance …

…. because I had to bring the youngest home from her netball match, which was an hour away.

I was very tired and hungry and thirsty (because I’d only managed to sip one, teeny, tiny cocktail and eat three teeny, tiny nibbles) – when I finally walked through the front door at 10pm.

Jane, bless her, texted to let me know that Evan won. Evan is quite the man of the moment, as he also just opened Sydney’s most sustainable bar. Click here to take a look inside it.

To celebrate the crowning of this year’s winner, from today the bustling suburb of Surry Hills and Sydney’s CBD will come alive with the World Class Cocktail Festival, five days of bespoke cocktails, live entertainment, pop-up events, immersive brand experiences and dining collaborations, all championing the very best of Sydney’s diverse bar scene. More information on The World Class Cocktail Festival the program can be found at

As I predicted when I first heard about the event at the Poly dinner, everyone has gone nuts over the Butter x CÎROC collaboration. Cult burger brand Butter – you might recall I took the eldest there a while ago – has teamed up with Luke Whearty from Byrdi (#80 World’s Best Bars) to create the ‘Dirty Byrdi’, a limited-edition Butter Fried Chicken (fat wash) CÎROC martini you’ll only be able to order throughout the festival.

You had me – and everyone else, it seems – at Fried Chicken (fat wash) Martini.

As I got ready for bed and not enough sleep, the eldest was buzzing because he’d found a dentist to do a mould of his teeth for his HSC DT project (dental grade vampire teeth) and the dentist thought it was so cool he didn’t charge a cent, which is good news for my bank balance.

It was all a bit overwhelming for a 53-year-old on a Tuesday night … and here I am about to wearily embark on Wednesday’s madness. Better get cracking on it, the youngest will be needing a lift to the bus stop soon.

And I’m a bit sad I didn’t see the pink moon – was it super cool?

Song of the day: Christopher Cross “Arthur’s Theme”

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