Top New Zealand Bartender shows Grace
September 24, 2003
New Zealand's top bartender is Corban Hill from BathHouse in Palmerston North.
Hill mixed it up along with New Zealand's best bartending talent at the national finals of the Suntory Cocktail Championship hosted by Maxxium New Zealand on Sunday September 21, 2003 at the Holy Grail bar in Christchurch.
Corban Hill's winning cocktail 'Awaiting Grace', was named after his yet unborn first child.
Corban phoned his partner to tell her the good news about his win only to find she had some different news for him - she was in labour!
Hill believes his success as a bartender is due to a dedicated passion in the industry, knowing the history of the drinks he serves and attention to detail.
"A great cocktail is one that you can drink more than one of, no heavy creamy drinks."
"By using fresh ingredients like basil and fruit, high-quality products and limiting use of sugars and syrups you can achieve a cocktail that is balanced yet imaginative," says Hill.
The trend is mirrored in the return in the cocktail industry of New York and London style 'Classic' drinks like the Martini and the Manhattan and the popularity of South American and Brazilian cocktails like the Mojito and Caipiroska.
Hill believes the return of Classic cocktails is helping to raise the level of professionalism in the bar scene, especially as customers become more discerning in their drinking choices.
Head Judge of the Suntory Cocktail Championship Henry Campana agrees.
"The level of skill of in the hospitality industry has improved drastically. This was obvious in the Championship and you could see that all the competitors were proud to be bartenders," says Campana.
The cocktail championship is part of the Maxxium New Zealand-initiated Suntory Cocktail Programme.
"The aim of the Suntory Cocktail Programme and championship is to elevate the level of professionalism in bartending and ensure New Zealand keeps up with international standards and trends," says Maxxium brand manager Susan Ralston.
For his efforts Hill has won a five-day trip visiting some of New York's most exclusive cocktail bars.
With the arrival of Grace, a healthy baby girl weighing in at 8lb 3oz, the trip may just be a little delayed.