Brendan Grey is the winner of the 2024 Rooster Rojo Rumble

There were shouts for witches to be burned, audio visual marvels, and a bunch of confetti.

Brendan Grey is the winner of the 2024 Rooster Rojo Rumble
Brendan Grey is the 2024 Rooster Rojo Rumble winner. Photo: Boothby

It has been a cocktail comp like few others I’ve seen, and I’ve seen more than most people. The national final for the 2024 Rooster Rojo Rumble took place in Sydney on Monday night, at Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern — where else? — and I was blown away by the confidence and storytelling of the finalists.

Six bartenders from across Australia gathered to out-shake, out-pour, out-class and — importantly — out-talk one another in a final that was as much about the story and putting on a show as it was putting out a great drink for the judges.

But I didn’t expect one of the finalists to bring a flute. And play the flute. That’s a new one for me.


View from the judge's seat: Brendan on the flute.

Yes, it was the flute-playing Brendan Grey from WA who took out the national final, with his high-energy story of the real Rooster Rojo. It was all completely made up and incredibly funny. Brendan went so far as to hire a projector and screen to bring an audio visual element to his show-stopping story.

It was unlike anything I’ve seen in a cocktail comp.

And there were great presentations and drinks from second and third place: Cantina OK!’s Harry Gill told a great yarn of his time in Lightning Ridge (and there was plenty of confetti littering the Rascal’s floor after he was done), which saw him take second place; and Ana Mitchell, from The 18th Amendment Bar in Geelong, took out third place, with a presentation that had the crowd looking to burn a witch. It was very well done.

The judges — Rooster Rojo’s Abbie Weir, Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern co-owner Sebastian Cosmo Soto, and myself — were impressed at the high standard and creativity of the bartenders across the board. It goes to show just how creative bartenders can be when you let them loose to entertain.

Brendan will now fly to Greece with Abbie for the bartending trip of a lifetime.

Speaking of cocktail competitions, you’ve only got a few days left to get your entry into the Unexpected Cartron Tour cocktail competition. The finalists will be accommodated up in Brisbane during the Bartenders’ Weekender next month, and the winner — well, the winner goes to France. Amazing, right? Entries are open now — visit to enter now.