Each year Sydney has been one of the major hubs for the globally renowned Diageo World Class Cocktail Festival, which over the past few editions has started to shape up as somewhat of a competitive sport for the world’s finest mixologists and award-winning bars. Each edition has one host city around the world which celebrates a bit harder than the rest, welcoming national and international mixologists and spurring a program derived from the world’s top bars for an unparalleled celebration of global cocktail culture. This year, that host city is right on our doorstop – For 2022, World Classic Cocktail Festival has chosen Sydney as the host city.
Consider it the SXSW for bartenders if you will. Between 9th and 18th September, some of Sydney’s finest venues will be giving themselves over to takeovers from the world’s best bars and some of Diageo’s finest spirits. In addition, 50 of the world’s best bartenders representing 50 different countries will dupon the city to make it one big booze-filled playground. Moreso than it already is.
Numerous one-off events are being planned for the World Class Cocktail Festival in Sydney, all culminating in a battle royale of sorts, where said world’s best bartenders will compete for the crown of Global Bartender of the Year 2022.
The small army of mixologists in Sydney will work up events centred on food, drink and cocktail culture, packing the nine days of the festival with pop-ups, parties and fine-dining takeovers including one where iconic London bar The Connaught will send their “Master of the Martini” Ago Perrone to work his magic at Bennelong for a one-night-only takeover with Tanqueray No. TEN, paired with a menu by Peter Gilmore.
The World Class Cocktail Festival works a bit like a music festival, in that there are major events – “headliners” – and a few smaller events – “supporting acts” – on the program. We’ve gone through and picked out some of the highlights we think you should get across above all else, but we’ve been assured that more will be announced closer to the festival starting date of September 9.
World Class Cocktail Festival Sydney Highlights
Tanqueray No.TEN Evening with Ago at Bennelong
From 7:30 pm on Friday, September 16, Ago Perrone of highly regarded London bar The Connaught will team up with Tanqueray and Bennelong’s Executive Chef Peter Gilmore for a four-hour degustation that’ll celebrate the world’s best martini paired with some of Sydney’s finest food. Considering Ago is known as the world’s foremost martini expert, it’s looking like this will be the main draw for anyone who enjoys the classic cocktail and a bit of the city’s most reliable fine dining to go with it.
Tickets are $375pp and include a three-course meal, arrival and dessert canapes and paired cocktails from 7:30 pm on Friday, September 16.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Lyaness Supper Club at Quay
Heading over Gilmore’s other fine dining champion, Quay, will be Johnnie Walker Blue Label as the brand brings down the world’s most awarded bartender, Ryan Chetiyawardana from what is currently the Best Bar in the World (as per the prestigious Spirited Awards), Lyaness in London. Quay will have a pop-up whisky lounge to celebrate the collaboration, serving up Ryan’s whisky cocktails along with three dishes designed by Gilmore.
Tickets are $170pp and include three dishes with three paired cocktails across 6 pm and 9 pm sittings on Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 September.
Monica Berg Take Over at Shell House
Sydney mega-venue Shell House will welcome acclaimed Norwegian bartender Monica Berg of Tayer + Elementary, currently the world’s second-best bar. For the one-night-only takeover, Berg will be flexing her considerable talents at the ritzy Clocktower Bar from 6 pm on Wednesday, September 14.
You don’t need tickets for this one, but you’d most likely need to book in to see why Berg has been named the Queen of Cocktails.
Don Julio Food Truck Fiesta
Here’s one that’s a bit more casual than the above events at Bennelong and Quay, with Don Julio curating a bit of a food truck party across three nights with the help of Sydney’s beloved Catina OK!, which is currently the 23rd best bar in the world. It sounds like it’ll work like your typical food truck park, except with a very attractive lineup that includes Beatbox Kitchen, Ricos Tacos and Taco Truck Dos along with some of Sydney’s best DJs and a Container OK! pop-up bar serving Don Julio-based margaritas.
Entry to the food truck pop-up is priced at $25pp and includes one cocktail and a bit of food. You can, of course, purchase more as the night goes on. Thursday, September 15 and Friday, September 16 have 5:30 pm and 8 pm sittings, while Saturday, September 17 has 12 pm and 2 pm sittings.
Bite The Bulleit at Frankie’s
Everyone’s favourite late-night bar, Frankie’s, will be welcoming Bulleit Bourbon for a free-entry night of mules, rock ‘n’ roll karaoke and a bit of a twist to the venue’s usual pizza menu. Given that American bourbon will be the overarching theme here, Frankie’s kitchen will, for one-night-only, be doing up burger pizzas to help those mules go down.
The event, taking place on Wednesday, September 14, is free from 4 pm.
Bundaberg Blend Your Own Rum at Harbour View Hotel
Anyone looking to blend their own rum with Bundaberg would have typically had to head up to the awarded Queensland distillery. But from Tuesday 13 to Thursday 15, the label will actually be bringing the experience to Sydney as it takes over Harbour View Hotel in The Rocks. All you need to do is buy a ticket then you can head along to create your own unique rum blends under the supervision of Master Distiller Sarah Watson, after which you’ll walk away with two bottles of the liquid which are labelled on-site.
Tickets are $195pp and include one Bundaberg cocktail and two bottles of your own rum.