The Boothby Top 50 Drinks of the Year 2022 are here

The state of our cocktailing nation right now.

The Boothby Top 50 Drinks of the Year 2022 are here

Well, it has been a busy week here at Boothby HQ as I’ve been pulling together the first ever Boothby Top 50 Drinks of the Year.

I like to think of this as a snapshot of the way we drink at bars right now. These aren’t drinks designed for cocktail competitions and never made in real life behind the stick — instead, the Awards sets out to highlight the great drinks bartenders are slinging across the bar every night.

So over the course of October, bartenders from bars all across the country put their best drinks forward to be considered for the 2022 Boothby Drink of the Year Awards.

First up, the stats. We had 145 entries come in, which far exceeded my expectations for the first year.

Some 50 percent of the Top 50 drinks are coming from NSW; over 20 percent come from Victoria, with Brisbane picking up four spots, Adelaide getting three, Perth scoring two, and Darwin, Canberra, Hobart, and the Gold Coast coming in at one spot a piece.

Just 20 percent of the Top 50 list this year is made up of drinks created by women, which corresponds with the number of entries more broadly (around 20 percent of entries were submitted by women). It’s a percentage which is lower than I’d like to see and one which I hope will increase next year with greater awareness of the awards and even greater numbers of entries.

What are we drinking right now? The desire to make drinks that are clarified isn’t going away it seems, whether it’s through the use of some high-tech centrifuges or through ingredient-based clarification. There are a lot minimalist, clear drinks on big block ice. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but — as I recently talked about in my chat with Ryan Chetiyawardana — can lead to drinks all looking alike.

Large and clear block ice is pretty much standard operating procedure today, but we’re seeing more use of smaller pebble ice in long drinks.

And I think it’s fair to say that 2022 is The Year That Lychee Came Back. I’m old enough to remember the stick drink Lychee Caipiroskas and Caipirhinas and Mojitos that propelled the early 2000s bartending world. I’m not sure that lychee in drinks ever went fully away, but it’s certainly back now and you’ll see it as a flavour in a number of drinks in the Top 50. (It’s also fair to say that muddling ingredients is well and truly dead.)

Perhaps it’s our climate that encourages it, but plenty of passionfruit is also on the menu in 2022, whether it be in Porn Star Martini variations, or in Jenna Hemsworth’s excellent Pavlova Milk Punch. Pineapple ain’t going anywhere, either, thanks to the bartending world’s love of the Piña Colada — whether it’s in traditional takes like the uber-delicious Salted Piña Colada at PS40, or in the grown-up and clarified takes from bartenders like James Irvine or Burrow Bar’s David Fowler.

Honourable trend mentions also go to yuzu, makrut lime leaf, and perhaps surprisingly, absinthe — if anyone would like to explore further the world of that anise spirit and its sibling, pastis, I’m here for it.

So what happens next? Each of the bartenders with a drink on the Top 50 are invited to the Boothby Drink of the Year Awards at the end of this month on Tuesday 29 November at Double Deuce Lounge in Sydney. I’ll be sending invites out shortly, so please keep an eye on your inboxes.

And on the night, we’ll be counting down from 50 to 1 the Drinks of the Year, and awarding three big awards along the way: the Drinks List of the Year, the People’s Drink of the Year, and the Drink of the Year.

In the meantime, voting is open for the Boothby People’s Drink of the Year presented by Orlando — all you have to do is check out the Top 50 and vote for your favourite before Friday 25 November (that’s the end of next week).

Thank you to all of the bartenders who entered their drinks — we could have made a very delicious Top 100, and you've made this country a better place to drink at.

You can take a look at the Top 50 here now.

Australia’s 50 best drinks of 2022 - vote for your favourite now
These are the drinks, bars, and bartenders making Australia’s drinking some of the best in the world in 2022.