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Mixologists compete for Club Suntory at The Loft


Sydney’s cocktail aficionados descended on The Loft to sample and judge signature creations from some of Australia’s finest up-and-coming mixologists.

This unique concept from Club Suntory that was extremely successful last year, is a twist on the annual Suntory Cup trade competition, with members of the public asked to rate the Suntory Cup state finalists’ signature cocktail creations, as well as their general bartending skills.


The winners with the Club Suntory team at Sydney’s The Loft.

To reach this point, Club Suntory challenged Australia’s bartenders back in July when they invited all Club Suntory members to vie for a spot in their state final by submitting an original cocktail using a minimum of 45mls from Suntory’s diverse portfolio. The competition entries were initially judged purely on the drinks’ merits, with judges unaware of who has created the drink, creating a truly level playing field. After the preliminary judging, more than 550 entrants were then whittled down to five finalists in each state. In the state finals, competitors then had the opportunity to flaunt their bartending chops: personality, passion and knowledge, assessed in a busy bar situation, judged by professional bartenders and trainers. 

Winner Raymondo Donato from The Croft Institute in Melbourne, took out the national title with his cocktail creation, ‘Wolfenbüttel Sour’.

Donato won the trip of a lifetime to visit the best bars and distilleries throughout Japan plus $1,000 spending money. He was awarded his prize by Ian Atherton, managing director of Suntory (Aust) Pty Ltd. and Nigel Weisbaum from Club Suntory.


Raymondo Donato’s winning cocktail, Wolfenbüttel Sour’. 

“We’re thrilled with the success and standard of this year’s ‘Cocktail Connoisseur’ entrants and the event,”  Weisbaum said, “This is the second time that Club Suntory has opened up judging of our annual Suntory Cup competition to discerning cocktail drinking members of the public. The results were tight between the top three, but the Wolfenbüttel Sour by Raymondo Donato, was the crowd favourite on the night, while his competitors put on a fine show.”

Second place was awarded to The Laneway, Brisbane’s Perryn Collier for his ‘Afternoon Highball’ creation, while third place went to Ian Loh from Helvitica in Perth, with his ‘Kyoto’s Kick’.

The 350 attendees took part by tipping the bartender who they considered to be the most engaging host and the creator of their favourite cocktail of the evening. Crowds were entertained by Sydney favourites, Martini Club.

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