Paul McMillan

The Melbourne-based bartender of Botswana Butchery has been crowned the winner of the 2023 competition.

Reuben Beasley-Palmer will now go on to represent Australia at the Nikka Perfect Serve global final in San Francisco later this year.

He competed alongside 10 of Australia’s top bartenders in the regional competition held at Sydney’s Burrow Bar.

The judging panel featured Owner and Head Chef at Bancho Bar, Chad Choulai, Owner of Burrow Bar Chau Tran, and last years’ Australian winner Aiden Rodriguez.

The competition was held in an omakase style, where judges acted as guests and entrants will have 15 minutes to show their expert whisky pour and cocktail recommendation.

It was also based on the Japanese philosophy ‘ichi-go, ichi-e’ which means ‘one chance, one encounter’ and saw entrants heavily judged on their consumer experience.

Reuben Beasley-Palmer was praised for his ability to immediately connect with the judges and tailoring offerings to suit their palate.

His winning cocktails included the Godfather (Nikka from the barrel, amaretto, angostura bitters); The Lady Finger (Nikka Coffey Malt, yuzu, lime, banana liqueur, vanilla); and The Other Half (Yoichi Single Malt and mandarin soda).

“Reuben took all the chaos on the chin and he really embraced it,” says Tran.

“Reuben’s performance was two-fold, the drink was delicious and was the service impeccable which in turn delivered the perfect serve.”