Sydney bars are starting to thrive again post-Covid – just in time for one of the busiest weeks on the cocktail industry calendar.

From Wednesday April 28 to Sunday May 2, the World Class Cocktail Festival will celebrate all things bespoke drinks, with exclusive dining collabs, immersive experiences, bartender skills and much more.

As well as $15 cocktails at some of Sydney’s top drinking destinations, including Sammy Junior, Icebergs Dinng Room Bar, Barber Shop and Tio’s, Paramount House will host midmorning yoga sessions and low-calorie, no-alcohol cocktail tastings at Paramount Recreation Club, a Mexican cinema series (and Don Julio tequila matched cocktails) at Golden Age Bar, and more. Bulletin Place will extend its footprint to include new laneway pop-up Belsazar Place, while the closing party at Maybe Sammy on Sunday May 2 will see charcuterie by LP’s Quality Meats alongside live Latin music, plus there will be an appearance from the newly crowned Australian Bartender of the Year (announced on April 27) and 2018 Global Bartender of the Year Orland Marzo at Golden Age Bar.

From a pool of hundreds of World Class entrants this year, in the running for that title is Alex Gilmour, general manager at Mexican-spirit specialist Cantina Ok!. From a pool of hundreds of contestants, Gilmour has made it to the top 100. Once a top three is decided during the festival, one winner will go on to compete internationally in a virtual version of the contest.

“It’s one of the top cocktail competitions globally,” says Gilmour. “It’s judged on taste, creativity, flavour, fitting the brief, and communication.” In the first round of the competition, participants were asked to make a drink showcasing Don Julio Blanco Tequila, using a culinary technique involving a sauce or stock, and taking inspiration from the theme “spice master”. Gilmour drummed up a cocktail he calls the Padre Novitatis.

The Padre Novitatis uses just four ingredients, including egg whites infused with hibiscus and a “transcontinental sauce” that draws equal inspiration from Thai and Mexican cuisine. (Think coconut curry and tacos al pastor.) The surprise hero ingredient is deveined habanero chilli.

“My focus was on getting the fruity spice from the habanero, but not all the burn,” says Gilmour. “I wanted to remove some of that intense, classic spiciness and really showcase what the fruit of the deveined habanero tastes like in connection with this masterful tequila.”

The finished cocktail was enough to land Gilmour in the competition’s top 100. While newcomers might struggle to make the drink perfectly at home, don’t be dissuaded. “This is about the premier of technique and flavour,” says Gilmour. “But it can be showcased to someone who wants try something cutting-edge. For something simpler, try making a Paloma.

In celebration of the World Class Cocktail Festival, which runs from April 28 to May 2, here’s how to make the Padre Novitatis at home.

Alex Gilmour’s Padre Novitatis
Makes 1 serving. Approx. 2.5 standard drinks.

Ingredients
45ml Don Julio Blanco tequila
20ml hibiscus-infused egg whites
30ml transcontinental sauce
30ml fresh lime

Transcontinental sauce
6 habanero chillies (remove spice by deseeding, deveining and steeping in alcohol)
550g fresh ripe pineapple
40g turmeric
400g Coco Lopez cream of coconut
5g salt

Hibiscus-infused egg whites
150ml fresh egg whites
50ml hibiscus tincture (80g hibiscus powder, 50ml boiling water, 50ml Don Julio Blanco)

Method
For the transcontinental sauce, blitz all ingredients in a blender, pass through a cheesecloth and refrigerate.

For the hibiscus-infused egg whites, rapid-infuse the egg whites and hibiscus tincture in iSi whipper for 15 minutes, de-gas and decant into a bottle. Refrigerate till use.

Hard shake the tequila, infused egg whites, sauce and lime and pour into Old Fashioned glass with 1 large ice cube to serve.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with World Class. See more details and book tickets for the World Class Cocktail Festival.