Carey Watkins is an aspiring Melbourne musician with no experience as an actor or presenter. So when he received a call to say he’d won a competition to be the host of The List, a documentary that will chart his travels across five countries in search of the world’s best cocktails, he was – to put it mildly – shocked.
“It's insane,” he says. “I can't stop talking about it. I can't believe they've given me this job. Like, do you guys really want me to do this?”
The “they” Watkins speaks of are the World Class bartenders who will chaperone him on his search across Sydney, Taipei, Barcelona, San Francisco, and Mexico City. “I have no idea what to expect or what I'm going to be shown,” he says. “I'll just have to go with it and hope for the best.”
To enter the competition, applicants were asked to submit a short video of themselves talking to camera. It was only after winning the role that Watkins learnt his lack of experience was an advantage.
“The production company told me, 'It was down to you and this other guy,’” says Watkins. “They said, 'He was really professional. He's got an acting and production background, but you were really loose.’ I thought, ‘Well that's me done.’ Then they said, 'So we ended up going with you'.”
What the producers saw in Watkins was a natural curiosity. As host of The List, Watkin's role will be to articulate his new drink experiences as he discovers them in real-time. Through him the viewer will learn about the skill and art of cocktails from some of the best in the business, as well as see how different cultures use them as a form of expression.
“I'll be experiencing the cities as a local would,” he says. “[And it’s about showing that] to people who want to experience something.”
Watkins says his own tastes in cocktails are “pretty basic – I love Old Fashioneds.” But he hopes to use the opportunity to show how drinks and the culture around them can be a true reflection of a city.
“Some people find that [idea] silly,” says Watkins. “But they don’t have any problem doing it with food. You know, you can have lobster in Maine and that sums up your experience there. People don’t really talk like that about drinks. I want to help change that and show drinks are just as important as food. They can sum up an experience and a place.”
Watkins has never been to Mexico City, Taipei or Barcelona. “I can't wait to be shown different styles and weird, new ingredients,” he says. “Hopefully, five years from now I'll drink a mezcal-based drink and say, ‘Hey that reminds me of an experience in Mexico City’.”
This article is presented in partnership with World Class.