Bar, Melbourne

On Tour: Sousoul

One of the things I’ve found to more true than anything else as I’ve moved through bars, sampling drinks and talking to bartenders, is that a list of twisted classics usually should be avoided.

Classics became just that because of the fine memorable taste the mix delivered. Take inspiration from the recipes sure, but you can’t improve on perfection.

Or can you?

On the mini crawl Jason Chan took me on after dinner at his, Sousoul was one place he’d mentioned a couple of times. The cocktails and their quality came up again as we crossed Chapel street and ducked down Greville St, beside the clocktower. As he popped his head into the new outpost of Ladro Pizzeria, next door to Sousoul, I’ll admit I was thinking “I’ve been drinking stuff you can’t buy anywhere, how is any cocktail meant to follow that?

Making it the door we were met by Nathan, our consummate host, Jason recommended and ordered the Chocolate Sazerac (below). The smoked cocoa is a triumph in this drink, I’m not sure if it has the fabled ‘wrongness’ of the rye and anise match in the original, but I’m sure Matt Preston would pull out his new favourite phrase “it’s yum yuck, a triumph” before hurling the glass at the back wall.

Well done Sousoul, one from one thus far.

My eyes didn’t get much further down the list before my eyes rested on the Aviation in 2010 (below).

Fuck with the classics, be my guest, but the Aviation is my personal favourite, opening a good gin up with citrus and the funky sweet lick that maraschino brings. Frankly I don’t care if they used to drink it with Creme de Violette. Most of the new liqueur approximations of this floral throwback stamp out any of the subtlety of the simpler ‘modern’ version (although none of my books have a violet version, isn’t that the Blue Moon?) Sousoul have updated the cocktail but my three ingredients are the ones in the glass.

That’s a tremendous tick in my book.

The boys behind the bar have captured an essence here. The Creme Yvette’s that are coming in the second wave of production are greatly improved. Adding it to the liquid in the glass might be dicey, so what’s the other option?

At Sousoul, the other option means spherification of the liqueur in a tidy little caviar spoon on the side. After the astringent brilliance of a perfect Aviation in the glass, these purple pearls wash your mouth with sweet floral goodness, ready for the next rinse.

I loved it. It is exactly what it set out to be: the very best Aviation you could put up.

I’m thinking of driving down again this weekend, just so I can have it again. If you are in Melbourne and only are going to have one drink, this, in my opinion, should be it.

I stand by what I said. Don’t fuck with the classics, unless you can do as well as this.

160 Greville Street, Prahran, VIC, Australia, 3181 (03) 9529 5670

On Google Maps here.


4 thoughts on “On Tour: Sousoul

  1. Jacob Briars says:

    Hugo Ennslin, who may (or may not) have been the creator, published this recipe in 1916:

    1/3 lemon juice
    2/3 gin
    2 dashes maraschino
    2 dashes creme de violette

    The ‘Blue Moon’ originally included Creme Yvette, you will have tried at the 42BELOW World Cup (where more Aviations are consumed than at any gin event I’ve ever been to…)

    Just as Creme Yvette was falling out of favour, Harry Craddock was publishing the Savoy Cocktail Book which included the now-standard Aviation without creme de violette. As he borrowed pretty liberally from Ennslin’s book, some surmise the omission of violette was a ‘typo’.

    I’d say it’s more likely he got rid of the flowers, just as he ditched the creme de menthe from the White Lady. His palate seems to have been pretty dry and that would have been the trend at the time too.

    In the meantime, the Aviation with violette has come back to life as the ‘Blue Moon’ which is now ever more confusing as we can make ‘proper’ versions of the ‘Blue Moon’ now that Creme Yvette has returned like an alcoholic Lazarus to further muddy the waters.

    Creme de Violette must have been in the original Aviation to give the drink the hue from which it takes its name. I doubt Hugo Ennslin had the time or money to take a plane flight himself, so I doubt he would have known that his drink was much more refreshing at 9000 metres than it ever was a sea level.

    On that note, thanks for the tag!

  2. That aviation looks just like this one;

    Never heard of Sousoul before, which is strange, will have to check it out! How much was the Aviation? Let me know the next time you’re in Melbourne if you wanna have a cocktail or two, should have a bit more free time after my exams >.<

    It's great you got to hang out with Jason, I randomly sat next to a Bacardi rep who was having a night out with him, in Seamstress ages ago when he still owned it. Really great guy, and he slid me over the tiniest sip of Rittenhouse 25; awesome!

  3. Jacob Briars says:

    Apologies for the rather dull notes above…

    Aaron, the Aviation from Jamie Boudreau above is deservedly famous, which might be where Sousoul grabbed the drink from. However, they may have just thought it up independently. Before Jamie’s piece was up on Small Screen a few years ago, Riki Carter at Matterhorn in Wellington was serving an Aviation in this way, and I’m not even sure if he knows how to use a computer.

    It’s a pretty neat solution to the issue of where to put creme de violette if you want to make it ‘classically’. As it’s been made, and enjoyed, without violette, for close to 80 years, the ‘modern’ version is now the ‘classic’. But of course you want to make a ‘classic’ properly once we all know the earlier recipe. So violette ‘pearls’ let the guest choose.

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