The winners of the 2022 Easy Awards were revealed at a bustling event at The Guardsman in Adelaide last night (Thursday 24 November) to celebrate the best of Australian food and drink.
Drink Easy celebrates all streams of beverage creation to reward excellent drinks to enjoy now, while Eat Easy is a celebration of delicious and responsible food that rewards the restaurants, producers, and emerging chefs and Front of House making a difference with good food and responsible practice.
With Drink Easy’s Chief Judge Nick Ryan on hosting duties, Økar Tropic (SA) was crowned Australia’s Best Drink while Attica’s Sous Chef George Wintle (Vic) was named Best Emerging Chef; Pipit’s Alice Dwyer (NSW) Best Emerging Front of House and Anne Smithers’ famed Du Fermier (Vic) won Best Neighbourhood Dining.
Økar Tropic is a mistelle – a tropical cousin of vermouth – from Gumeracha in South Australia crafted from a blend of Gewurztraminer and Moscato and fortified with unused spirits from Økar’s distillery to create a tropical sundowner.
Økar’s Director Brendan Carter says: “Naturally, we’re still stunned by the win; a lot of what we do is sitting on the cutting edge of sustainability in drinks production, and that tends to divide crowds a bit. What’s fascinating for us is that when you take away the brands, the story, the people selling you product – and judge a drink purely on flavour and drinkability without context – drinks like these really start to stack up.
“The hope is that this gives producers the confidence to push more boundaries, and dig a little deeper into farming inputs and outputs, to see where they can potentially add value for both the farmer and the consumer. The end result is better drinks for consumers (evidently) and better drinks for farmers and foragers.”
The mistelle was named Australia’s Best Drink over an old favourite, Seppeltsfield’s Para Grand Tawny, while a small-batch farmyard beer, Sobremesa Fermentary & Blender’s Vibes on Toast, rounded out the top three in the overall drink category and was also crowned Australia’s Best Beer + Cider.
Chief Judge Nick Ryan says this year’s results are compelling proof we’ve never had such abundant choice when it comes time to fill our glasses.
“This line up of deliciously intriguing drinks speaks to the vibrancy, diversity and kinetic creativity driving Australia’s beverage scene right now. We’re living in a golden age of liquid refreshment, and I’d encourage anyone with an interest in treating their tongue right to get out there and start exploring.”
Drink Easy 2022 Top 10 Overall
Økar, Tropic, Mistelle, SA
Seppeltsfield, Para Grand Tawny NV, SA
Sobremesa Fermentary & Blendery, Vibes on Toast, Vic
Sunlight Liquor, Sparkling Orange Blossom Mead, SA
Watkins, Mad Cousins, Chilled Light Red, SA
Amber Lane Distillery, Silk Road Whisky, NSW
Taylor & Smith, Hanky Panky, TAS
Smug AF Cocktails, Non-alcoholic Mojito, NSW
Archie Rose Distilling Co., Rye Malt Whisky, NSW
Archie Rose Distilling Co., Lemon Scented Gin Harvest, NSW
Drink Easy 2022 Category Winners
Australia’s Best Drink: Økar Tropic, SA
Australia’s Best Wine: Moorak Wines, Petillant Naturel – Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, SA
Australia’s Best Spirit: Never Never Distilling Co, Triple Juniper Gin, SA
Australia’s Best Non-Alcoholic: Smug AF Non-alcoholic Mojito (NSW)
Australia’s Best Alternative: Ventura Brewing, Peach & Sage Alcoholic Kombucha, NSW
Australia’s Best Beer + Cider: Sobremesa Fermentary & Blendery, Vibes on Toast, Vic
Eat Easy recognised neighbourhood eateries and emerging hospo identities with its hospitality categories with Alice Dwyer, George Wintle and Du Fermier the winners of Best Emerging FOH, Best Emerging Chef and Best Neighbourhood Dining.
In the producer categories, Pinnaroo Farm’s Sprouted Red Lentil Flour took home the Made category, The Bush Bee Company won Grown with their Honey, Grassland Poultry took home the Land category with their Somerlad Chicken, Coorong Wild Seafood won River with their Wild Carp Fillet and Goolwa Pipi Co won Sea.
Chief Judge Mark Best says: “The Eat Easy entries delivered everything we hoped it would with a wide range of products and people that impressed on every level. With an increasingly amalgamated corporate food system, identifying and celebrating small producers with diverse offerings makes a significant contribution to the culinary future of Australia.”
Eat Easy featured a diverse panel of some of the most impressive food identities in the country as judges joining Best including Justin James (Restaurant Botanic), Kane Pollard (Topiary), Mandy Hall (ex-MasterChef), Jacqui Lim (Soi.38), Karena Armstrong (Salopian Inn) and Ella Winnall (Berri Barmera Mayor)
The Eat Easy individual award winners:
Made: Pinnaroo Farms, Sprouted Red Lentil Flour, SA
Grown: The Bush Bee Company, Honey, SA
Land: Grassland Poultry, Somerlad Chicken, NSW
River: Coorong Wild Seafood, Wild Carp Fillet, SA
Sea: Goolwa Pipi Co, Goolwa Pipis
Best Emerging Front-of-House: Alice Dwyer, Pipit Restaurant, NSW
Best Neighbourhood Dining: Du Fermier, Vic
Best Emerging Chef: George Wintle, Attica, Vic
Other major Easy Awards
Easy on the Eye: Claudia Pessera from Cloudy Co for Molly Rose Brewing’s Little Berries
$5000 Super Assembly x Eat Easy Grant: Moonrise Seaweed Co
$5000 Molasses Grant: VinZero