Drinks marketing – inception style

tmg-slideshow_xlI love this idea.

San Francisco restaurant the Burritt Room has a secret drink, off the menu.

Ordering the Wingtip Vieux Carré Me Away will see a fine concoction of Glenfiddich 15, Remy, Benedictine and two types of bitters festooning your table with a custom copper coaster.

On completion of your dinner, and the drink an uber will be waiting for you outside the front door, ready to whisk you and 3 guests away to a secret club. The Wingtip sounds pretty boysy, but given the booze forward entry price, it is probably a self selecting audience.

More at Thrillist, which is where the image came from as well.






Bloody Awesome

Blood Mary’s are Bloody Awesome. Some of you might have noticed a few more peeking out of menu’s lately, thanks in no small part to the team at Ketel One and their rolling competitions and commitment to bringing this drink back to the centre of attention.

The savoury beverage is a favourite of any bartender worth their salt, a canvas on which they can project their own approach to making drinks and perhaps the only beverage platform where you can acceptably garnish a drink with a burger, or more.

The photos in this gallery are from an exceptional night almost 5 months ago, but the reason I am posting them now is that you can head down to Rushcutters on Saturday between 11-3 to forage your ingredients for a Bloody Mary and then have the only man in Australia with a skull more massive than mine, make yours up bespoke, as part of the World Class World Cocktail Week festivities.

Mojo Records

Mojo Records

Mojo Records Moody Mary

Mojo Records Moody Mary

Shady Pines

Shady Pines

Shady's present a brunch drink with a breakfast garnish

Shady’s present a brunch drink with a breakfast garnish



Any drink with a syringe, if I'm honest. Boudin Noir slider on the side.

Any drink with a syringe, if I’m honest. Boudin Noir slider on the side.

Low 302

Low 302

A refined and delicious mixup of michelada and mary from Low 302

A refined and delicious mixup of michelada and mary from Low 302


Eau de Vie Batched Cocktails – Coming soon to a sofa near you.

1102699_10151873086473593_562789140_o What’s better than a cocktail that looks as fantastic as this, served perfectly in a great little bar at the back of the Kirketon Hotel on Darlinghurst Rd?

Having one in the comfort of your own home.

What a wonderful happenstance today with two little bottles of joy arriving express, courtesy of my favourite Norwegian. A bottle each of the first batch of bottled cocktails. One Coconut & Banana Old Fashioned and a Cold Drip Negroni. 1461550_10151722735971300_856670940_nBoth bottles went in the freezer, and I’m sipping on the Cold Drip Negroni, as I write this. Tanqueray, Campari, Sweet Vermouth and a lick of cold drip single origin coffee.

Now, I’ll be honest. I’m not really a fan of twists on the Negroni, most just seem tanke away from the deliciousness that is herbal, floral and bitter all at once. It’s not like it’s missing something. Really, what is the point of fucking with something so close to perfection?

However, the cold drip gives a rich earthy flavour that sits down with the other three ingredients like it was born to it. There’s even a hint in the note from Sven that the ambition is to one day sell these down the offie, so everyone will be able to enjoy a taste of the good life at home.

I’m not sure I’m willing to transfer my allegiance from the classic yet, but I will be heading down to try one of these in situ very soon. You should too.

Eau de Vie. 229 Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Bar, Cocktail, Sydney

By Hook or by Crook, get to the Rook.

There a plenty of good cocktail bars in Sydney these days, so you really have to work hard to do something different without affecting the quality of the product you’re putting up.

I’ll tell you one thing though, the team at the Rook are doing it right. Jason Williams and Cristiano Beretta have put together a list of cracking drinks with a playful streak.

Drink them in with your eyes below.

calligraphy cocktail

The Calligraphy Cocktail. Genever forward and served with a quill so you can personalise your drink. Yes, I drew a cock and balls on mine.

fear and loathingFear and Loathing. Mezcal, Cherries, Bats, Fuck. Garnished with a page torn from the novel folded into a paper plane.
Sloe Ringing Bell

Sloe Ringing Bell. Sloe Gin, Diamond Rye Belvedere, sugar, salt. A vodka drink for people who don’t order vodka drinks.
werewolvesWerewolves of London. A twist on the corpse reviver, and the phone message is classic. Fill a drink bottle with it when you leave.

There were others. They were excellent. I’ll add them when I remember what they were.

I may have gone home with a helium balloon tied to my shirt.

Go there and drink the whole list.




Cocktail, Competitions

Is one of these cocktails worth $100,000?


The World Class summer round  came to its conclusion  with 12 bartenders from around Australia as is fast becoming tradition, on a motherfuckin’ boat.

The overall quality of the drinks, the presentations and the event itself had stepped up from the previous year, and the addition of the American Cocktail with Bulleit Bourbon was simply the tastiest damn thing ever.

I wrote a couple of months back that Diageo have put up a hundred grand for the Australian winner this time around and you could see that the call has been answered by the bartending community with some well thought out drinks that certainly bring the brands to life in the mouths and minds of drinkers.

There were plenty of standout drinks, but this is a post about winners, and the folk who’ve done enough to be in the running for the big prize.

First up, let’s talk favourites, and mine was the Modern Love cocktail from Luke Ashton, of the Roosevelt.

The use of a unique acid (extinct Phosphoric), the ability to customise the drink in the masculine or feminine, the allusions to the perfume industry and the techniques in common with the botanical production of modern Gins like Tanqueray 10, the glassware and technique on a rocking boat were all great. I’m not sure it had the boozy hit or history that the rat pack category was meant to elicit but rolling the hint of Parfait Amour around my mouth I’m not sure it mattered.

Luke Ashton_Modern Love

Luke Ashton_Modern Love_2Next in line, Jessica Arnott from Portneo with her rockabilly twist of a drink, 1956.

A bottled cocktail and very much on trend, with a real connection to the essence of the venue she now manages, the drink comes either as a tasty Old Fashioned or optioned up with a series of upgrades. The ginger beer and dulche de leche float was a cute idea that would have shifted drinks in venue, if being a little long for my own slightly more boozy tastes. Jess has stepped it up from last year and I can’t wait to see her shine in the finals next year.

Jessica Arnott_1956 an American 2 Jessica Arnott_1956 an American

The Ron Zacapa After Dinner Drink was taken out by Christian Blair from Eau de Vie in Sydney. A gorgeous looking serve that managed to still taste of dreamy boozy goodness despite the load up with creamy additions. Christian had a good confidence behind the bar booth boatside, and it’ll be good to see him shine in the extended format at the finals.

Christian Blair_Finca La Perla Zacapacino Christian Blair_Finca La Perla Zacapacino 2

Which brings me to Krystal Hart from Canvas in Brisbane. The story behind the Beholden Martini was tight, connected to the brand but not just a retelling of the Nolet story, I’m also a sucker for a meat garnish and the pickled herring was unexpected but totally refreshing after 10 or so drinks on a less than mirror glass flat Sydney Harbour. She’s gained a lot of confidence since last year, and she’s got a creative flair that will make her a real contender come finals time.

DWC Brisbane Oct 2012DWC Brisbane Oct 2012

While the quality across the board was better than last year, I’m not sure there was a Tim Philips amongst them. That said, none of these guys have had the benefit of being exposed to the Global Finals and the knowledge of just how good the other bartenders who will be travelling (potentially to San Fran?) from their home countries for a shot at the title and the benefits it confers.

There aren’t any bad drinks at that global level, just great, really great and insanely great ones. It might have been the cash prize on offer but it seemed like the nerves were heightened at a few stations round the room. In Rio, all the competitors could stand behind an unfamiliar bar, with a  TV camera in their face and an absolute fucking bartending legend sitting in front of them, and make it feel like it was their bar, performing a comfortable, confident shtick while banging out a tasty beverage.

I’d also love to be surprised a bit more. The training program that Diageo has in place is insanely and award-winningly great, but I wonder how much the tasting notes and trainings are pulling people into a very samey set of flavour profiles in terms of end drinks, all the while using some complex and beautifully crafted spirits.


That said, the only qualifications I’ve got to make the criticism above is that I’m obsessed by great drinks and love to share stories about them. If I learn anything from being a judge at World Class, it’s how far away I am from being able to conceive and present drinks of this standard. It’s not going to stop me from trying, or accepting kind invitations to be involved either.

Also, big props to Diageo and Behind Bars for continuing to raise the bar with this competition, for opening it up to the public to be involved, for backing off the spammy social media that irked a few last year and most of all for believing enough in the creativity, passion and talent of Australian bartenders to put up 100k for one of them.

The Gourmantics have got some great photos of the consumer part of the event here.




The Private Walker

I have a couple of friends who complain about visiting Perth and finding a fruit accompaniment on the side of every serve, admittedly they’re from Melbourne and tend to think anything that can’t be reached on a tram can’t be up to much. It did however raise a smile when I noticed that the Perth entrant  came with a bright orange fruit accoutrement.

The drink sounds as though in would work well, and I’m a sucker for a PX rinse these days, perhaps the subliminal use on Masterchef masterclasses is making an impact.

The Private Walker

45ml Apricot Infused Johnnie Walker Platinum Label
10ml Bertrand Nougat Liqueur
5ml Maple Syrup
Dash of Walnut bitters
Dash of Peychauds bitters
Pedro Ximinez (Alvear) rinse
Apricot soda and nougat on the side

This drink was created as part of the launch of Johnnie Walker Platinum Label in Australia. Eight bars, across the country, were selected to receive the liquid ahead of general trade and had the chance to come up with a signature serve to make the most of the spirits versatility and showcase their bars style and service.


Burns’ Supper


There was a trend last year in the final rounds of Australia’s World Class competiton to serve whisky and meat together. Both the fattiness and the nutty characters that come out in preserved meats lend themselves delightfully to a wee dram.

It would also be fair to say that I am a big fan of getting dinner and a drink when I order a cocktail. It is always a pleasant surprise.

This drink from Kal at the Laneway sounds good enough to get on a plane to Brisbane for. The addition of a wee plash to the whisky pays off big with this member of the Walker stable as well.

Burns’ Supper

45mls Johnnie Walker Platinum Label
10ml Mineral Water
Iberico Shoulder Jamon wrapped around a hand rolled grissini
Buffalo Reggiano
Candied Hickory Smoked Kalamata Olives

This drink was created as part of the launch of Johnnie Walker Platinum Label in Australia. Eight bars, across the country, were selected to receive the liquid ahead of general trade and had the chance to come up with a signature serve to make the most of the spirits versatility and showcase their bars style and service.

Cocktail, Melbourne

The Kilmarnock Pearl

Sven Almenning’s venues in Sydney and Melbourne are gaining renown for their abilities in putting up cocktails that match and extend food items from their kitchen.

The pepper bitters lift the drink, and the oysters into a really tasty place. Egg white and pineapple gives great mouth feel.

The Kilmarnock Pearl

50ml Johnnie Walker Platinum Label
10ml Yellow Chartreuse
30ml Pineapple Juice
20ml Lemon Juice
20ml Chargrilled Pineapple Syrup
3 dashes pepper bitters
Egg White
1 Oyster

This drink was created as part of the launch of Johnnie Walker Platinum Label in Australia. Eight bars, across the country, were selected to receive the liquid ahead of general trade and had the chance to come up with a signature serve to make the most of the spirits versatility and showcase their bars style and service.

Cocktail, Sydney

Zeta’s Signature Serve

If you’ve ever been to Zeta, you’ll know that they’re not shy of a bit of theatre and have a deep and abiding love for drinks that create a sensory impact, for the customer and everyone else in the room.

The Zeta Signature Serve certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Zeta’s Signature Serve

60ml Johnnie Walker Platinum Label
Peat smoked ice
Star Anise
Vanilla Fog

This drink was created as part of the launch of Johnnie Walker Platinum Label in Australia. Eight bars, across the country, were selected to receive the liquid ahead of general trade and had the chance to come up with a signature serve to make the most of the spirits versatility and showcase their bars style and service.

Cocktail, Competitions

Shot Bro.

Great example of how to style a shot of a great looking drink from the Team at Club Suntory at Cruise bar on the 8th of May.

There are some other great shots of the day on their facebook page here, but for my money, the photo above is the best I’ve seen out of Australia this year.

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to really drink the photo in.

The Royal Disaronno Diamond

by Adam Smith

Glass -Collins
Garnish – Apple fan
Method – Dry shake, then shake with ice double strain into a collins (no ice) and top with apple cider
Ingredients –
40ml Disaronno
15ml Remy Martin VSOP
20ml Magners Original Irish Cider
20ml cloudy apple Juice
1 bar spoon of brown sugar
1 whole egg

Here’s the whole lowdown on what was going on:

Stylish Italian drinks icon Disaronno is proud to announce Joel Hodge, bartender at The Goldfish Hunter Valley, is Australia’s Disaronno Mixing Star!  Each year, from Milan to Moscow and New York to LA, Disaronno scours the globe in the search for the world’s finest cocktail bartenders as part of their Disaronno Mixing Star competition.

Australia accepted the challenge in 2012 for the second time, as Disaronno) put the word out to all aspiring bar stars around the country. 

Scores of brilliant concoctions were tasted and judged, culling the impressive field of over 170 entries down to just 15 finalists – including some of the nation’s finest bartending talent. In true star style, the chosen competitors were flown to Sydney, chauffeured in limousines and indulged with VIP treatment. Last Tuesday May 8th, saw the challengers assemble on Sydney’s spectacular Circular Quay at the renowned Cruise Bar, the top floor of which was kitted out as a full production set. 

After complete make-up styling for the cameras, each finalist was tasked with producing both a single serving of the classic Disaronno Sour, as well as four identical servings of their original Disaronno cocktail. On hand with the pleasant but taxing task of deciding on a winner was the judging panel: from Milan, Disaronno Commercial Director Nicola Bini, Sun Herald Journalist Amy Cooper and Club Suntory’s Nigel Weisbaum. Each of the 15 finalists and their drinks were assessed on presentation, technique – and of course taste – before the judges got to deliberating on their final verdict. 

This competition has always discovered new talent, so for some of the finalist this was their first national cocktail competition, whilst the standard of the more experienced bartenders was extremely high. All the entries were a testament to the creativity of Australian bartenders. Continuing with their VIP treatment, the finalists were treated to a luxury Italian dinner in the private dining room of two hat Woollahra restaurant; LaScala. 
Nicola Bini commented “never before have we had such a difficult time in deciding was the winner of a national comp, the quality this year was exceptional”

The winner of the competition has an infectious story of his own. Joel Hodge from The Goldfish Hunter Valley had never even been to Sydney, let alone competed in a national cocktail comp. Now Joel will be off to Berlin to compete in the Global final in Berlin in July, and the possibility of appearing in a Bollywood production in India if he takes out the Global final! I’m sure you’d agree both destinations are a far cry from The Hunter Valley!!

As expected Joel was very emotional with his win, dedicating the drink to his Great Grandmother who was an avid Disaronno fan for many years. Joel also presented his drink in crystal glassware that belonged to his late Great Grandmother. 

2nd place was awarded to Joe Singara from Luxe Bar, Perth and 3rd place was Anita Strother from Malt Bar in Brisbane.


Buy this Poster

This amazing poster breaks down 68 classic cocktails into their respective parts, complete with garnishes.

It’s made in Brooklyn, so it’s hipster cred is legit, yo. They’re asking for $28 American dollars, for one of a thousand limited prints, so use some of your resource inflated Australian dollars and buy one for your bedroom wall at home and set about memorising it.

Go here to buy it.

Thanks to Camper at Alcademics for the share.


The Fourth Drink of Christmas: The Sugared Plum Fairy.

So it’s Christmas, so I’m hoping for a little forgiveness that my 12 drinks project has fallen by the wayside as I’ve rushed to get home to New Zealand, marry the girl of my dreams and drink some pretty spectacular bottles of Champagne along the way.

The Sugared plum fairy came out of the idea that you could combine absinthe and Umeshu (Japanese sweet plum wine.) I’ve made a number of attempts, none of them even remotely successful. I’d welcome a successful cocktail including these ingredients, but for now, just add an egg white to 60mls of Umeshu, 15mls fresh lemon juice, 7.5mls Ardberg 10 yr old, emulisify and shake hard over ice, serve in a sugar rimmed vessel.


The Third Drink of Christmas:The Cummins Cocktail (or the Great Australian Hope Cocktail)

An evening with Chris Hysted has to be one of the most enjoyable experiences in Australian drinking. The cheeky Melburnian brings flavour and chat in spades to any drink you’re lucky enough to tease out of his head and hands and into your gullet, as it were. These days, you can find him tucked away upstairs in the Attic, or resplendent downstairs at the Black Pearl.
When I asked him to contribute a fine beverage for this little experiment in networked drinking, I had high expectations. High like my adopted home of Australia has in it’s cricket team, high like a donkey grazing in a field of marijuana, high like Charlie Sheen on a Monday morning, High, well, you get the idea.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve not been disappointed. The cocktail he’s delivered is not only the first in the wild mention I’ve seen of Bundaberg 5, but also has a healthy dose of Hysted’s cheek to boot. Served in a stubby, reminiscent of his signature creation, the grounds for divorce, this is a cocktail that could be unassumingly sipped at a poolside bbq, relaxed on the embankment or even nestled gently behind the stumps of a beach day cricket match of your own.
The true genius, and cheek, relies on the alternative carbonations of the cocktail, depending on who is winning the cricket between Australia and New Zealand. You’ll also need some quick hands to shake the drink at 154kmph, but don’t let that stop you from trying.
It’s my belief that the Cider forward variation is certainly superior, although it seems unlikely that many of you will get to try it out if you’re following the instructions that came with the drink to the letter. Maybe the Kiwi’s will bat first on boxing day, or you could sneak one in the next couple of hours while New Zealand has the lead in Hobart.
Either way, it has to be the best use of Fosters Lager this side of the Chapel in London.
The Cummins Cocktail (or the Great Australian Hope Cocktail)
30ml Bundaberg 5
75ml Mildura Brand Apple and Guava Juice
Dash of Bitters.
Shake at 154kph and Fine Strain in to a Beer cup/Stubby of your choice.
Then add 60ml Carbonation.
40ml Fosters Lager / 20ml Monteiths Crushed Apple Cider when the Aussies are up.
40ml Monteiths Cider / 20ml Fosters Lager on the rare chance the Kiwis are ahead.
Consume on Boxing Day with either a cold snag in bread or a cold chicken wing along side your chilled beverage.
Boom shanka!
Cider, Cocktail

The First Drink of Christmas: The DeCider

I’m a huge fan of a nog at Christmas, but I do accept that the antipodean summer climes don’t suit raw eggs and cream heavy drinks particularly well. An alternative to the Northern nogs has been thunk up by Ed Loveday of the Passage in Darlinghurst.

The Batlow cider it uses is a drier drop than many of the sugar heavy bottles that have hit the shelves and shores of the lucky country of late and plays nicely with the herbaceous characters of the Noilly and the Yellow Chartreuse.  There are also not enough opportunities to add a start anise to a great looking cocktail.

The DeCider

40ml Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka
15ml Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
10ml Yellow Chartreuse
20ml Lemon Juice
1tsp Sugar
Dash Egg White
1 Star Anise Pod (Garnish)
Batlow Premium Cider

Combine all liquids (except for Batlow Premium Cider) in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Cover and shake hard. Strain out, and return to mixing glass without ice. Dry shake (without ice) for 45-60 seconds. Pour into wine glass and top with Batlow Premium Cider. Garnish with a star anise pod.


A little bit of opportunism – Movember Cocktails from San Diego

Everyone does Christmas, thanksgiving and Halloween drinks these days. Few of them raise as much of a chuckle as these two from Saltbox in San Diego for Movember. The one on the right is a garnished Tom Collins, called the Tom Selleck. Classic.

These were both published, with the photo above on the Discover SD Blog. I’d suggest going over there and having a look.

If you’re looking for someone to sponsor, my mate Joe is having a crack this year. It’s for a great cause and he needs all the help he can get. You can make a donation, and check out his picture diary here.


Tales Redux 2011

Tales went by a while back, but I thought I’d aggregate some content as they say in the biz and share some of the highlights with those of you, like me, unlucky enough to have have been sweating pure Sazerac on the streets of Nawlins. A great narrative on the experience given by Jacob Briars and Sebastian Raeburn talking about Bitters in their double act in New Orleans. Check it out on Looka here.

The fine folks at Bacardi were kind enough to produce a series of videos at Tales too, for their True Originals content store. The one above this post is the Bitter pairing of Briars and Raeburn.

Briars interviews perhaps the man I’d most like to meet in all the drinking world, Ron Cooper. The man behind the mezcal.

The aggregation of posts on TOTC by TOTC 2011 award winning cocktail writer, Camper English, on his blog, Alcademics. You can see how many drinks he had at Tales, but I’d check out some of his notes from the seminars, particularly the Vinegar one…

Did anyone else find anything amazing written up?



Sydney, you’re going to drink a lot of these this summer.

Some of you will know that Jason Williams, exAustralian Bartender of the Year and deliverer of some very fine chat, had taken a job working for the Keystone Group, working across the venues of the group, with a remit to improve the beverage offer.

Gazebo, perennial Pott’s Point wine garden and watering hole will be the first place that remit becomes visible on a cocktail list.

There are a number of interesting drinks on the list. The Shiraz Negroni is delicious, and the Love Potion brings a little table side theatre to the Sydney drinks market.

It’s the delicious beverage in the picture that I can see being drunk in large numbers as the weather warms up and competition for the outdoor seats heats up. It’s called the Spring Sherry Cobbler.

Cobblers are an older style of drink, mentioned in even the oldest surviving cocktail books. Jerry Thomas included seven in his book. On paper it’s a simple drink; wine, spirit or sherry mixed over ice with sugar and some fruit. Put in context its the definition of luxury, first made in a time when ice was not sallying forth from a hoshizaki ice machine but hauled in straw insulated railcars and ships from a frozen place to, well, not so.

The Spring Sherry Cobbler at Gazebo uses Pedro Ximinez sherry, the darling child of the food industry for its rich sultana and chocolate flavours. Well iced it delivers a remarkable freshness that will ease many a transition from work to afters. The PX coats your mouth to the finish.

Summertime goodness you won’t regret ordering. Yum.

Gazebo on Google Maps here.



Cocktail, Competitions

Coney Island Bartender Bumfight


Hell week kicks off next week with the Bartender Bumfight. Essentially it’s a speed and knowledge fest, where local bar teams duke it out head to head making drinks against the clock. It is sure to be a truly epic evening, I’ll be sitting at the bar, laughing my ass off and trying to remember I’m actually there to be a judge.

Teams of two draw eight drinks, points are awarded for pretty much anything, and are deducted at a rate of one point for every 15 seconds you finish behind your opponents. It is set to be a night of diamond encrusted chat.

Event details can be found on facebook.

Entrants thus far:

  • Eau de Vie (NSW) – Luke Reddington & Max Greco (Defending Champions)
  • Black Pearl (VIC) – Chris Hysted & Rob Libecans
  • Canvas (QLD) – Krystal Hart & Kal Moore
  • Hemmesphere (NSW) – Hamish Mcshane & Tom Bulmer
  • Team NZ Suite Bar Auckland – James Goggin & Barney Toy
  • The Victoria Room (NSW) – Jessica Arnott & Maximillian Gurtler
  • Team WA – James Connolly (Defectors) & Benjamin Tua (Mint)
  • Team WA2 – Simon Hough (Luxe Bar) & Lloyd Smith (Clarences)
  • Team VIC – Lou Dare (The Alchemist) & Merlin Jerebine (Chez Regine)
  • Hugo’s Bar Pizza (NSW) – Natalie Ng & Stuart Morrow

The drinks they’ll be drawing for the first round:

  1. Tommy’s Margarita (Julio Bermejo of Tommy’s)
  2. Paloma (Squirt!)
  3. Batanga (La Capilla)
  4.  Bobby Burns (Old Waldorf Astoria)
  5. Penicilin (Sam Ross, M&H)
  6. Trilby (Savoy)
  7. Pan American Clipper (The Gentleman’s Companion)
  8. The Widow’s Kiss (Modern American Drinks via Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails)
  9. Daiquiri Floridita (El Grande Constante)
  10. El Presidente (Eddie Woelke, Jockey Club, Havana)
  11. Scorpion (Trader Vic)
  12. Bolero (Bolero was also the name of the 1984 movie starring Bo Derek that was dubbed the “Hottest Erotic Film of the Century” hmmmmm.)
  13. Knickerbocker (Tha OG JT)
  14. Planter’s Punch (Maybe one of the ten recipes from The Gentleman’s Companion, then again maybe not…)
  15. Brown Derby (Douglas Fairbanks, Vendome Club, Hollywood)
  16. Mint Julep (Really?)
  17. Stone Fence (See above.)
  18. Corpse Reviver no. 2 (Savoy)
  19. Pegu Club (Barflies and Cocktails)
  20. Suffering Bastard (Joe Scialom, Long Bar at Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo)



Honeyed Heather

The launch of the new Johnnie Walker Blue was a great opportunity to hear a few good stories about the brand.

It was also a great opportunity to enjoy some delicious Pear Old Fashioneds. It sort of drove home to me that the worst fate a bottle of scotch can have is to sit at home not getting drunk.

You don’t need to do much to to it, slight tweaks to bring out some different parts of the spirits flavour profile.

Honeyed Heather

50mls Johnnie Walker Blue Label, 10mls honey syrup, 7.5mls freshly squeezed lemon juice, a single dash of Boker’s Bitters.

Stir down over ice and strain up into a chilled glass. Lemon peel garnish and a good time.


The MacNicol

It was a week of fine drinks served up at the Diageo World Class Australia Finals last week. There are many great ones I’m going to try and write about, but one in particular has stuck in my mind. A dry apéritif  affair, stirred up by Angus Burton of the Waiting Room, in Melbourne.

The young Mr Burton qualified in one of the Brisbane rounds, and has spent some time behind the stick at Canvas. It’s a bar that keeps cropping up when I hear about great drinks and bartenders with compelling individual styles North of the Border, perhaps time to make a visit to warmer climes.

I digress.

Utter class in technique, Angus gave a twist on the Bobby Burns, a liqueured and bittered take on a Manhattan, American Whiskey changed out for Scotch. Using delicious Talisker as a base, dried out, but not too much by a smattering of Noilly Prat. Dry spiced sweetness from a waft of Mozart Dry and the amazing nutty Maraska Apricot Liqueur.

Talisker wonderfully showcased, that hint of smoke dancing at the finish. The salted caramel finish the experience, delightful.

The drink on the right was good too, a drying out of Zacapa, finished with rather delightful lavender and pineapple bitters. The delicious jamon, with flowers of salt, all wrapped around a matchstick of coconut, was part of a seemingly growing trend for meat garnishes. It is a trend I wholeheartedly endorse.

The scotch drink for me though, endures, named his own kilted roots. Gus was kind enough to share the spec with me, and here it is, below:

The MacNicol

45ml Talisker
15ml Noilly Prat
7.5ml Zadarski Apricot
7.5ml Mozart Dry
Dash of Rosso Antico (5ml)

Stir it down and strain into a cocktail glass,

Give it some orange zest love and discard the zest.

Drink it up.

Cocktail, Competitions

Don’t tell anyone, but it looks like Tim Philips is World Class.

Last week saw a three day contest of cocktails play out.

Mastery was tested and classics given a twist in a vacant, wintry Zeta.

Drinks were paired with some of the finest food to be had in Sydney at Rockpool, and almost uniformly garnished with dill.

Speed & taste played out at Victoria Room, and a minutes walk away at Eau de Vie, knowledge and execution of the classics rounded out the tests. World Class Australia has wrapped.

I was lucky enough to be involved across the few days, and there were a few things that stood out.

Firstly, the state of Australian bartending is excellent. Exposure to the movement that has been gaining momentum around the globe these last few years has come in the form of the Australian birthright of an OE, an ever increasing body of work online and in print, the investment by the liquor giants in expansive training programs and the small bar movement that has real momentum around the country, far beyond its spiritual home tucked down the lanes of Melbourne.

Exposure was manifest in the talent on show last week. Whether from Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney or WA, every single person behind the stick showed passion and ability that augers good things for the Australian bar industry and any punter wanting a properly good drink.

Secondly, there are few things as dangerous and as beautiful as shots of Jose Cuervo Platino flowing down a custom luge of ice.

Thirdly, it’s no longer the domain of just one person at the top of each comp. Second and third went to Dr Phil from Eau de Vie and Marco Nuñez from Canvas in Brisbane respectively. Phil is a brilliantly nerdy Wondrich-in-waiting, reading and researching voraciously while stirring up possibly the best half and half martini I have had in my my life. Marco brings undeniable charm and an energetic Latin flair that negates any need for tossed bottles, his drinks are epic too.

I’m sure the rest weren’t very many marks behind, there were standout drinks from all quarters. I’ll post some more of them as the photos trickle in.

Fourthly, I should not be left in charge of a bottle of Zacapa XO, ever. It will be as though it never existed, I will make no apologies.

Lastly, as they say in the Highlander, there can be only one. This time, that one is Tim Philips. ex Milk & Honey, ex Black Pearl, ex UK Bartender of the year, current flatmate of Robb Sloan and bartender at level 6 at the Ivy. Tim is a class act, attentive and outgoing behind and in front of the bar. Knowledgeable to a fault and in possession of a wickedly sharp sense of humour, visible in part over at his blog, drinktheshitoutofit. I wait in vain for him to start releasing instructional videos.

This one time Melburnian will now fly to the wonderfully vibrant country that is India to take place in the global contest to crown a new World Class bartender. The winner gets accolades, a book deal and plenty more. Best of luck Tim, I really hope you win.

At least maybe now people will stop spelling your name with two L’s.

Cocktail, Competitions

Cocktails and Properly Fucking Amazing Food at Rockpool

There’s a lot of talk going on round the world about matching cocktails with food.

Often this ends up playing out in a pretty mediocre way, but next week on Tuesday night, well things are going to be World Class.

Diageo’s flagship contest will play out on the floor of Rockpool, with a five course degustation matched with cocktails from the top 10 bartenders in the Lucky Country. Oh, and I’m a judge.

Tix are $185 each with 5 cocktails.

Tickets can be found at either of these places:

from the Rockpool blog:

or the World Class facebook page:

Book now, lest ye be disappointed.

Beer, Cocktail

And now for something completely different.

It’s not often that I’ll write about beer but these two re-releases by the bots from the Barons Brewing Company are worth a special mention.

Both of these brews are flavoured with a small taste of native Australian fauna flora.

The Lemon Mrytle Witbier shows a lot more lemon-lime zinginess than you might expect had you tried Hoegaarden. There is the coriander note there too but more in a fresh cut stalks type of fashion as opposed to the dried spice in the German and Belgian acrhetypes. It all adds up to a very refreshing drop.

The Black Wattle Ale replaces zest with decadence. The roasted black wattle seeds add chocolaty hazelnut notes, milky coffee and maybe even a hint of roasted almonds. Perfect for the wintry weather that seems to have settled on Sydney.

The botanicals in these beers are really crying out for a bit of creativity in a cocktail, so here goes:

I still call Australia home.

30mls Inner Circle Green Dot OP Rum, 10mls Tambourine Mountain Choc Hazelnut liqueur, 330mls Barons Black Wattle Original Ale.

Build ingredients in a tankard. Garnish with a gumnut and a brooding criminal past.

True Blue.

40mls Tradewinds Gin, 20mls Blue Curacao, 10mls freshly squeezed lemon juice, 330mls Barons Lemon Myrtle Witbier.

Build ingredients in a glass tankard. Garnish with a lemon peel and a keen sense of irony.

Barons beers are available across Australia at high end bottle stores, and for those of you in Sydney, Chambers Cellars is a safe bet.

Cocktail, Competitions

A Modern Classic

I wrote a couple of weeks back about the True Originals campaign from Bacardi and the Global Legacy Cocktail Competition that hung off the back of it.

Well, the first contest has wrapped in Barcelona and the gorgeous looking drink in the photo above is the winning drink. It’s a rethink of the Ramos Gin Fizz, swapping gin for rum and orange blossom water for something deliciously herbal and made by monks.

Marco’s Bacardi Fizz
by Marc Bonneton

50ml Bacardi Superior rum
40ml Cream
15ml Green Chartreuse
15ml Lemon Juice
15ml Lime Juice
15ml Simple Syrup
1 egg white
Top with soda water
Mint sprig for garnish

Dry-shake the egg white in a shaker with no ice, then add all the other ingredients and ice and shake for a long time to emulsify to egg white and the cream. Fine-strain into a tall glass and top with soda water. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Hat Tip Camper English at Alcademics, who actually was on the ground in Spain watching it all unfold.

Cocktail, Competitions, Sydney

Drinking with Gentlemen

Diageo’s World Class program seems to be going from strength to strength this year, and I’m not just saying that because I keep getting asked to judge the NSW rounds‡. The contest asks bartenders from across the country, or at least the Eastern seaboard, to create a excellent cocktail featuring a spirit from Diageo’s Reserve range. Points are attributed for recipe and efforts in marketing the drink, both in venue and on the slightly more new fangled social medias. 10 are then chosen to take part in state finals, where bartenders are judged by the other nine to decide a top three who will face the esteemed panel of judges.

It should also be noted that points in World Class are not only awarded for the quality of the drink, the innovation of the recipe and skill of its production. The Reserve range are all tasty products alone in a glass, as such the contest rewards those who feature and improve the natural state of the spirits. A great way to think about making any drink, in my opinion, at least.

The final round of this years comp was the gentleman’s round, where contestants were asked to feature either the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, the Ron Zacapa Solera 23 or the slightly shorter named Talisker 10. The event itself was held at Tokonoma, to coincide with the launch of their own Diageo Reserve cocktail list, of which I stole a copy and will expound on in greater detail in another post.

The three who made it through to the final round were all gentlemen; Tim Philips from the bar no one can go to, Luke Reddington for the bar that always wins and Luke Ashton from a bar upstairs from another bar. It should not however be construed that only a Gentleman could win, as evidenced by the success of Krystal Hart from Canvas in the QLD round (more on that from Simon McGoram, over here)

The drinks they made were epic. Luke Ashton channeled a snake oil salesman with gentrified, clarified, with not all ingredients specified elixir, served up in custom printed vials too boot. Luke Reddington used the most exquisite collection of equipment to make his drink, and gave me my first ever quail’s egg flip. Tim Philips also bought quail’s egg to the party and promptly covered his shirt and much of the Tokonoma Bar with his emulsion in perhaps the most incredibly epic fail I have ever witnessed behind a bar, contest situation or no. To his enduring credit, he rallied. Cracking three more quail eggs, and whipping out his Autumnal flip again with a suitably epic poem, producing the winning drink and earning a place in the national final next month. 

Pictures and recipes below. 
Royal Autumnal Flip from Tim Phil(l)ips from Level 6 at the Ivy

Ingredients & Quantities: .5 Fresh Fig (or Tbsp Homemade Fig conserve if unavailable,) 10ml Lemon Juice, 40ml Talisker 10, 30ml Zacapa Honey Liq. (Homemade,) 1 Whole fresh quails egg

Method, Glassware & Garnish: Add all ingredients, dry shake, then shake. Serve up and garnish with atomizer sprays of ‘Zacapa Cinna-man Eau de parfum’

The Foppish flip from Luke Reddington at Eau de Vie

Ingredients & Quantities: 40ml Johnnie walker gold, 20ml Lairds bonded apple jack, Half a barspoon of branca menta, 15ml of maple & champagne reduction1 whole quail’s egg

Method, Glassware & Garnish: Add all ingredients with ice and shake. Strain into a refined gentlemans glass and garnish with a dusting of nutmeg & a spot of fanfare
Ashtons Elixir No. 23 from Luke Ashton at The Duke

Ingredients & Quantities : 45ml Ron Zacapa 23, 10ml Amaro Ramazotti, 4 dashes homemade ‘Muddy Moonshine Stomach Bitters’

Method, Glassware & Garnish: Combine all ingredients in chilled mixing glass and chill and dilute with large ice cube. Orange twist into the glass (dropping orange twist into glass) Strain drink into frozen miniature labeled bottles, No garnish

‡Just kidding, i love the fact I get to judge cocktail contests. Can’t wait for nationals….


Five Margaritas for Cinco de Mayo

It is the fifth of May, and for many Americans, and increasingly Latino communities around the world, it is a day to celebrate Mexican pride, culture and heritage, by drinking salty pools of Margarita and eating tacos.

The day itself is understood by many to be the Mexican Independence day, which is actually celebrated of September 16th. Cinco de Mayo is the anniversary of a great battle, between 4000 Mexicans and 8000 well equipped Frenchmen, who hadn’t been beaten in more than 50 years. It is a holiday observed only in the state of Puebla, where the battle occurred.

This historical nonsense aside, it is a great excuse to cook Mexican food and drink Tequila. Which I’ll certainly be doing tonight.

The Cuervo Margarita.

The easiest to produce of all the pantheon of tequila cocktails.

Take 30mls of any of the Cuervo family of tequila’s, add 90mls of Cuervo Margarita Mix, shake over ice and strain into a ice filled rocks glass with a salted rim (if you like*).

A Better Margarita

This requires a bottle of Grand Marnier and a few seconds more to produce.

Take 30mls of a 100% agave tequila, like Cuervo Tradicional, and 60mls freshly squeezed lime juice, 15mls Grand Marnier, shake over ice and strain into a ice filled rocks glass with a salted rim (if you like*).

Tommy’s Margarita

A masterpiece of simplicity that features the character of different tequilas brilliantly. From Tommy’s in San Fran.

Take 60mls 100% agave tequila, at Tommy’s they use Arete, I suggest trying a range of different products and making your own call, 30mls freshly squeezed lime juice and 30mls agave syrup (try a wholefoods store, if you haven’t seen this before.) shake over ice and strain into a ice filled rocks glass with a salted rim (if you like*).

The Billionaire’s Margarita

Follow the directions for the better margarita, but use Reserva de Familia and Grand Marnier Cuvee De Centenaire. Should only be attempted with a healthy bank balance.

The Toreador

Not strictly a Margarita, but at least a cousin. Replace the Grand Marnier with Apricot Brandy, and, as evidenced in the last one of these Dr Phil at Eau de Vie made me, try this drink with Calle 23 Blanco.

The Sixth Margarita

Having made it home and discovered both somewhat surprisingly that Jose Cuervo’s recipe is far too light on the tequila for my tastes, and somewhat  unsurprisingly that a bottle of Cuvee de Centenaire had not magically appeared in my cabinet so I made the drink in the picture.

*A note of salting the rim, I think this practice came from a time when tequila often contained hydrogen sulfide and the salt and citrus combo neutralised both the chemical and its rotten egg scent, not really essential in a world of quality industrial production. Really a matter of personal taste.

Mañana chicas.


It’s a Royal Wedding!

.75 oz. Tanqueray
.5 oz. maraschino liqueur
.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 bar spoon blue Curacao
Shake all ingredients (except blue Curacao) vigorously and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Slowly pour blue Curacao down the inside of the glass to sit at the bottom.

Alcohol Content: .535

Seems like everyone is jumping on the bandwagon (and me too by reposting these) as the Royal Wedding edges closer in London. Gentleman bartender, Bon Vivant and Tanqueray roving man, Angus Winchester has pulled together these recipes to help all and sundry celebrate the happy day.

The Colour Me Royal (English spelling, of course) is a lovely little riff on the Aviation Cocktail, with the striking addition of Blue Curacao to liven things up. I think it might be enough to get even the most staunch, pinko, lefty, republican, Cachaca ambassador  excited.

Three more after the jump…

Continue reading


The Afternoontini

It’s been a quiet couple of months on this blog.

I have been getting my house in order as my love and I prepared for a fifty percent increase in the size of our family. Our little boy Otis turned up a week ago and I’ve been able to think of little else since.

My soon to be sister in law visited today, and asked for something cold, without any alcohol. I’ve made more than a few drinks that deliver on flavour without relying on liqour of late, so this is what I whipped up.

The Afternoontini

60mls Earl Grey Tea, 30mls cloudy apple juice, 30mls fig syrup, 22.5mls freshly squeezed lemon juice, 6 drops Boker’s Bitters. Shake over ice and double strain into a iced tea service. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and serve with tea and tiny cakes.

If you’re in Sydney, the figs are cheap and plentiful. Macerate 6 or 7 through a large strainer and combine with 500mls of simple syrup. Bottle and store in your fridge.

I have an enormous backlog of things to write about, and am judging the Gentleman’s Drink round of World Class in Sydney this month.

Stay tuned.


Tony Conigliaro has the Selby in his place.

Tony C is a bit of a legend in the world of bar tending. Constantly on the search for new tastes, techniques and flavours, in many ways he is treading the path Heston Blumenthal laid down, albeit this time behind the stick at 69 Colbrooke Row, not the stoves at the Fat Duck.

The Selby is a fantastic photographer who makes pictures of people in their homes, and sometimes, just their homes. Go check out the rest of the shoot here.

You’ll not only see Tony making drinks, you’ll get a peek at one of the bottles he ages his Vintage Manhattan in, infusion of rosemary in a water-bath, the fat-washers among you will stare in blind wonder at the use of centrifuge and olive oil, the rest of you will be wondering what a bartender is doing in a science lab. as always great shots, and a fascinating record of one of the areas cocktails and the drinking experience is being pushed forward.

There is also a recipe, for the cocktail pictured above. Named for the Master-at-Arms; who, on ship, doled out the rations of rum and port. It looks and sounds a doozy, but also makes use of some of the science lab to pull off a port reduction, which is going to make it extremely difficult to pull off at home. Dr. Phil will probably build his own, based on the pictures.

The Master-at-Arms

In a shaker place rock ice, then pour 50ml dark rum, 20ml port reduction, 5ml grenadine. Stir, strain into a small coupette, garnished with a sailor’s knot in fine string.