A hot punch earned four Brisbane bartenders a trip to Vanuatu and a place in the finals of the Hendrick’s Hot Gin Punch competition.

Double the number from Sydney and Melbourne and four times that of Perth, Adelaide and Wellington, four Brisbane’s bartenders are off to the finals of the Australia and New Zealand-wide cocktail competition.

Amongst the 11 competitors will be bartenders from Byblos Bar, Papa Jack’s, Cobbler and Fourth Wall, all creating innovative drinks for the Hendrick’s Hot Gin Punch competition.

Adam Meredith from Byblos Bar at Portside Wharf named his drink ‘Hipsters Ruin Everything’.  It contains Hendrick’s Gin with Ruby Port, beetroot, mango, lemon, hibiscus, rose tea, ginger and coriander.

“We recently bought a new juicer for the bar at Byblos so I have been experimenting and juicing everything in sight, including beetroot and ginger, so I knew that combination was a good starting point,” he said.

“Once I had the ginger, beetroot and coriander as my flavour profile, I used the other ingredients to balance the drink.  Those ingredients were chosen as the result of trial and error.

“My punch could be compared to a Bloody Mary with beetroot instead of tomato – it’s very earthy and savoury with a small amount of acidity, balanced out with the sweetness of the port and mango.”

Marco Nunes of Papa Jack’s created The Name of the Rose to win his place in the finals.

“Many people associate Hendricks Gin with cucumber but there are also rose flavours.  I decided to focus on this element rather than the more traditional cucumber,” says Marco.

The drink is served with Galaxy Hops tea bags to be placed on top of the drink so the moisture and heat of the drink can start to release the hops’ aroma and floral bitterness. Just like a tea bag, it’s up to the individual to choose the strength they prefer. The drink is served with a sand timer.

“It is served with a side of candied rose petal wrapped in Parma ham. The light savoury aspect of the ham will trigger the taste bud channels making them more receptive to the flavours, in particular to highlight the Rose flavours,” says Marco.

The finalists head to Vanuatu on August 8.  Winners will be announced on August 12.