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Darwin bartender Anneliese Grazioli has created Australia's best tequila cocktail

Time:2019-10-20 17:27wine - Red wine life health Click:

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The winning cocktail.

The winning cocktail. Photo: Supplied

There are just 16 cocktails that have been officially recognised as 'New Era Drinks' by the International Bartenders Association.

Getting the nod is no easy task. You need to design a drink so distinctive and popular that it becomes a staple for bartenders globally.

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Created by San Franciscan bartender Julio Bermejo in 1990, the Tommy's Margarita was finally inducted by the IBA in 2008, by which time it had certainly proven more than a fad.

You'll need to travel to Darwin to try this masterpiece.

You'll need to travel to Darwin to try this masterpiece. Photo: Supplied A toast to the man

But a humble Bermejo, who is in Australia to judge the Patrón Perfectionists cocktail competition, remains somewhat perplexed as to how his drink became a global sensation.

"I didn't go out and say, 'today, I'm going to make a better margarita'," he says.

"And we – as in my family and staff at Tommy's – never called the margarita that we made, the 'Tommy's Margarita'.

"On the menu was the margarita, that happened to be sold at a place called Tommy's."

Less is more

Like many of the finest cocktails, Bermejo's riff on the margarita was brilliant in its simplicity: Increase the measure of tequila and sub out the orange-flavoured triple sec liqueur for agave syrup, thereby putting the agave truly front and centre.

Bermejo developed it after taking the reigns at his parents' restaurant in the mid 1980s, refocusing it on Mexican food and drink, and eschewing cheaper 'mixto' tequila for premium products distilled from 100 per cent agave.

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"It started out as, 'we use this product in our margarita, and is that what we should be doing?'" he recalls.

"So we switched over to 100 per cent agave. Right then and there, the flavour profile change was just so radical, that there was no more room for regular tequila in my life, or, in my opinion, in the lives of my guests.

"They were going to get a top shelf margarita at the entry price level. I did away with 'top shelf'. It was all top shelf."

Anneliese Grazioli from Hot Tamale.

Anneliese Grazioli from Hot Tamale. Photo: Supplied A new movement

The Patrón Perfectionists competition now involves bartenders from more than 32 countries, vying for the right to compete for the right to compete globally at Patrón Hacienda in Mexico next year.

Having judged the competition in Dubai, Lebanon, and now Australia, Bermejo is bullish on its potential impact.

"The goal is hopefully that someone will create another global classic cocktail like the Tommy's," he declares.

Held in Melbourne on Tuesday night, the Australian and New Zealand Patrón Perfectionists Cocktail Competition was taken out by Anneliese Grazioli from Hot Tamale, a Mexican Restaurant and Bar located in Darwin.

Above and beyond

Just like the Tommy's Margarita, Grazioli's winning creation was inspired by a classic cocktail, the Manhattan.

Dubbed Over & Above, it features Patrón Anejo, Mango skin vermouth, Patrón Citrónge Mango and Martini bitter, stirred over ice and strained into a frozen Nick & Nora glass, then garnished with a drop of lemon myrtle olive oil.

"I used Patrón Añejo because I wanted the vibrant agave for the aged notes, and mango backed up with some native botanicals to complement the agave," Grazioli says.

Music to Julio Bermejo's ears, no doubt.

James Atkinson is creator of the Drinks Adventures podcast and a previous editor of Australian Brews News and drinks industry publication TheShout. A Certified Cicerone® and 2017 winner of the Australian International Beer Awards media prize, James regularly contributes to other publications including Halliday, Good Food, QantasLink Spirit and more.

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