Bar, New Zealand

The Golden Dawn

Hospitality has a new home in the Auckland Supercity and it’s called the Golden Dawn.

New Zealand has been nuclear free since the triumphant proclamation by Rt Hon. David Lange that New Zealand ports would no longer welcome U.S. Ships either powered by reactor or carrying nuclear weapons. Despite this, there was a tiny location that flouted this stance; The Open Late Café gained more than a trifling reputation with the city’s drunk and degenerate for serving Nuclear Nachos among their daily fare. Conjecture reigns on the presence of actual radioactive materials, but opinion is generally behind their assignation as toxic.

You’ve come this far dear reader, so allow me now to make my tenuous link, so slightly alluded to by the otherwise extraneous paragraph above.

This erstwhile nuclear hotspot can be linked again to a New Zealander 0f rare wit and courageous repartee. Mercifully free from Lange’s obesity, (but with his recent visits to Fergburger this may be all about to change,) and claiming a leftist position while his actions speak to more firmly rightist economics, I speak of course, of Jacob Briars, Bon Vivant, Brandsman and now a Man of Business.

Jacob has teamed up with Sam Chapman; a ghost from his Matterhorn past and Stephen Marr, hair stylist to the starry universe that is Auckland’s gleaming elite to open doors to the Golden Dawn. Rock-stars all.

Named for, or possibly nothing at all to do with, the Ancient Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a quasi pagan, path-to-spiritual-enlightenment-and-keys-to-the-magical-kingdom-type arrangemnet, who have been sucking in the dregs who couldn’t make it as part of the Masons or had been put of the Ka’balah by Madonna’s wrinkly hands.  If this type of thing interests you, I’m sure Jacob will be happy to make up a farcical story to keep you entertained, or perhaps it is actually all real, and if you slip behind the fireplace down the darkened alley you’ll find a secret loose brick with Benjamin Franklin’s spectacles, a lost Da Vinci Manuscript, the last shred of Nicolas Cage’s acting talent and Dan Brown’s penmanship, or maybe none of those things ever existed.

Names aside, the space is broken into two areas. Inside a DeGroff regulation bar, 42 inches high with a 4 inch foot-rail runs along one wall, with tables along the other which can be folded down for evening that are filled with that particular  brand of revelry that only the finest cocktails and accompanying hospitality can provide.  Outside a second bar, the pinkest toilets in Christendom and ample outside seating take the space from good to overwhelmingly great.

Food is going to be limited but tasty, and served in enamel ex-Prison department plates. Vegetarians will be well cared for, given Jacob’s leanings. Nuclear Nachos too, are rumoured to be making a comeback.

The drinks then. A fantastic list, daily punches, and perhaps tghe first time in my life I have been drawn to a mocktail, with the Lapsong Sour. Designed for the local set, cocktails that won’t necessarily nail you to your seat, but instead add a warm glow to the quick walk home to the villa, the family and another tasty home cooked meal.

Here’s a Dec 10 draft of the list so you can get the idea, the prices are in New Zealand dollars, so unless you’re a global superpower who has horribly devalued your currency through financial market racketeering and quantitative easing, they represent tremendous value:

Cocktail Menu – The Golden Dawn

December 2010

House Punch – $10

Long before the Cocktail became the bar staple, taverns and eating houses the world over would offer a bowl of ‘Punch’ to guests. Like most great drinking rituals it was designed to be shared.

We make up a different Punch daily, reflecting the seasons, notable events of past and present or maybe just our mood. Prepared before service and served in the traditional fashion – small glasses, a communal, flowing bowl, at a lovely price. Best enjoyed as a halfway house between the trials of work and the pleasures of home. Come early to ensure you get your chance to pull the punches.

Blackboard punch eg: ‘Fish House Punch’

Martell VS Cognac, dark rum, peach brandy, lemon juice, sugar, water.

Tried and True Classics

Some drinks stand the time for good reason – they are just very, very good, and better than anything we’ve yet come up with. For December, a list of fresh easy classics that can be enjoyed as a respite from the rigours of the party season.

Hallertau Boilermaker – $15

Traditionally the ‘boilermaker’ was an American ritual for men who did far more taxing manual labour than you or I. Their after-work ritual was more about quality than quantity, but we offer both.

We are lucky to be able to offer Auckland’s own Hallertau beers, delivered fresh and enjoyed on draught as they were supposed to be. We offer a glass of chilled Hallertau with a small glass of our spirit of the month.

For December, smooth amber Hallertau No 3 with a glass of Appleton’s Extra for a summery pick-me-up.

Americano – $12

The fore-runner of the bartenders’ favourite, the Negroni, this is a pleasant taste of Olde Europe that is wonderfully refreshing yet complex.

Campari, Martini Rosso, juicy oranges, soda water.

Pimm’s Punch  – $15

James Pimm kept an oyster house in the middle of the City of London, and his ‘cup’ became famous across the city as the best glass to be enjoyed with oysters and whores by men who enjoyed oysters and whores. We like our Pimm’s long and refreshing and laced with a little gin, as we lie back and think of England.

Pimm’s, Beefeater gin, summer fruits, ginger ale and refreshing cucumber.

Lagerita – $16

Tequila and beer, together at last. As ‘Chopper’ Read might have said, ‘I love a Margarita, but do they make ‘em for men?’ We do, as this modern classic from LAB bar in London shows. Hello, summer!

100% agave Cuervo Tradicional, agave syrup, fresh citrus, Hallertau pale ale, over ice.

Floridita – $15

A classic Cuban cocktail from the Golden Age of that country’s cocktail craft, and unlike the Mojito this drink has not been rendered passé by a thousand marauding hens’ parties. Unlike the hens, this is a marriage made in heaven. Rum and lime softened with elegant sweet vermouth and a hint of chocolate.

Havana Club, sweet vermouth, chocolate liqueur, lime, grenadine.

Sangria – $15

Forget what you think you know about Sangria and glasses of terribly sweet red punch enjoyed in Spain or in bars pretending to be Spanish. Our Sangria uses fresh fruit, good wine and is enlivened with a little rum and Grand Marnier for good measure.

Finest cheapest red wine, Stolen Rum, Grand Marnier, fresh citrus, Angostura bitters, soda.

Moscow Mule – $15

Our desert island drink.

42 Below vodka, lime, ginger beer, cucumber.

Aviation – $16

The Martini may be more famous but for our money this is the best pre-Prohibition cocktail yet to appear in a James Bond film. Clean and invigorating, a drink that makes you smarter. Icy-cold and enlivening.

Plymouth gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, lemon juice, house-made brandied cherries.

Aperol Spritz – $15

The classic aperitivo of the Veneto region, a light and sophisticated drink for the early afternoon or later if you keep Venetian hours, as we do.

Aperol, white wine, soda, a chubby olive.

Proper Gin with Proper Tonic – $10

We use top quality gin with Wellington’s own Quina-Fina! Tonic water, which is made in the traditional way with hand-harvested chinchona bark, together with organic lemons and cane sugar. More refreshing than any gin and tonic you’ve ever had before.

Tanqueray gin, lemon, Quina-Fina! Tonic water.

New to You

Some of these cocktails you may be familiar with, some you may not, some are new classics and others may one day be. The best are lifted from our favourite bar menus around the world from bartenders far better than us, others are our own which we hope you’ll enjoy just as much.

Newton – $12

Apples two ways, laced with stronger stuff that may inevitably exert its own gravitational pull.

42 Below vodka, mint, apple, elderflower, Hallertau organic cider.

Batanga – $12

In a small old bar in the town of Tequila sits a small old man who creates this tasty drink on a daily basis. Don Javier Corona blends tequila, cola and lime and stirs it together with a knife because even at 84 years old, he’s the baddest bartender on the planet. We’re not that bad but we do add a little Kaitaia Fire because everything tastes better with hot sauce.

Sauza Hornitos tequila, fresh lime juice, Kaitaia Fire, Phoenix organic cola.

Corpse Reviver Number Blue – $15

Blue drinks went out (so to speak) with Tom Cruise but we are bringing them back in this electric twist on a classic from London’s Savoy Hotel. Perfectly balanced, icy cold and good at any hour of the evening/morning.

Plymouth gin, Lillet Blanc, blue curacao, lemon juice, absinthe, lemon peel.

Boulevardier – $16

v. One who walks the streets, particularly of Paris.

Supposedly there was an Italian nobleman called Count Camillo Negroni who liked his Americano (see above) strengthened with gin. This story, though repeated as fact by generations of bartenders is nonsense, here instead is the forebear of the Negroni; a complex, grown-up way to start or end an evening.

Maker’s Mark bourbon, Campari, Martini sweet vermouth.

Penicillin – $18

The first classic drink of the 21st Century, created in New York’s best bar by the city’s best bartender (who of course is Australian). A splendid marriage of whisky with ginger, honey and lemon, finished with the most powerful, smoky Islay single malt. A cure for whatever ails you.

Ballantine’s, lemon, honey and ginger syrups, Laphroiag.

Trindad Sour No.2 – $15

An insane amount of Angostura bitters with Trinidadian rum and orgeat, finished with lime. Full of Christmas cake richness and with all the goodness of Dr Johann Seigert’s famous curative bitters.

Angostura bitters, Stolen Gold rum, orgeat, lime juice.

Hemingway’s Special – $12

The grumpy writer. Who worked only in sentences. Like this was a famous drunk but. Occasionally he showed discernment, such as in. His choice of evening refresher inspired. By Paris.

Martell Cognac, lemon, soda.

Falling Water – $12

Hailing from Wellington’s Matterhorn, a New Zealand classic, if there can be such a thing. A refreshing marriage of our own Feijoa vodka with Ch’i mineral soda, easily the best thing to have emerged from Glenfield since Rachel Hunter.

42 Below Feijoa, Ch’i, cucumber.

Frisco – $15

Many of our favourite things hail from San Francisco, including Bullitt and this forgotten cocktail. Rye whiskey and lemon, sweetened with glorious Benedictine and bitters, served up in the classic fashion.

Jim Beam Rye, Benedictine, lemon juice, lemon peel.

Sherry Cobbler – $12

This may have been the first Cocktail ever to be drunk in New Zealand, for it was first recorded as having being made in Richmond, Nelson in 1851. For 150 years it fell out of fashion but this was the Mojito of it’s day and it deserves to be in the spotlight once more. We use solera sherry muddled  with fresh fruits, served over ‘cobbled’ ice.  Smooth and soothing.

Hidalgo Cortado sherry, summer fruits, sugar, lemon.

Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

There are many reasons to choose drinks without alcohol, and we respect most of them. Whatever your reason, we don’t consider these drinks to be an afterthought and have tried to offer grown-up flavours that are crafted with as much care as our ‘spiked’ drinks.

Porch Lemonade – $8

Old-fashioned Lemonade made in the traditional American fashion, often never made in America any more.

Fresh lemon juice, cane sugar, lemon juice, chilled water, lemon peel.

Bambina – $8

Fresh, floral, tart lemons muddled with summery elderflower cordial and mint, and the cooling taste of cucumber.

Elderflower, cucumber, lemon, mint, soda water.

Iced Tea – $8

Not how it’s drunk on Long Island. Properly flavoursome tea with lots of lemon and local honey, over ice, cold and refreshing.

Chilled organic Green Tea, lemon, mint, honey.

Stromboli – $8

Juicy and easy on the eyes and on the mind.

Pineapple and cranberry juices, peach, bitters, lemon.

Lapsong Sour – $8

The unique and smoky taste of Lapsong Souchong tea balanced with lemon and sugar. Like a Lagavulin for drivers.

Lapsong souchong tea, fresh lemon, sugar, optional free range egg white.

No question, the must visit venue of this Antipodean summer.

134 Ponsonby Rd, Auckland.

On Google Maps, here.

New Zealand

Global Product Exclusive: Quina Fina Tonic Water

I mentioned in my tribute to Prof. Jacob Briars that he was looking to add a little effervescence to the tonic market. On my recent trip across the Tasman, I was lucky enough to try the first production run of this fantastic little product.

Quina Fina refers to the highest grade of Loxa or Crown Bark available to European commerce during the Colonial Period. You can read about all that here in an 1854 manual of natural medicinal extracts, should you wish.

I digress however, from the purpose of this post. The tonic itself is rather grand, my sample was a touch low on the presence of bead, a malady that should find remedy when production runs are the same size as the vat in which they’re mixed.  The taste is less sweet than most, with a conscious choice to cut the level of sugar. Balance is achieved by the addition of more Quinine, the end product nestles into Gin like the Colonies to Mother England’s bosom.

Any of you who’ve ordered  Gins & Tonic in an Asian nightclub or a Stripclub will be aware that Quinine fluoresces in the presence of UV light. It is a mark of the sheer volume of the bark extract that Briars has included that his product has a hefty bluish tinge in the presence of an overcast Auckland evening. The brown bottle, more than a point of visual difference, protects these elevated levels to ensure anyone lucky enough to be sipping one of these beauties outside will experience this angels touch. Golden Dawn at 134 Ponsonby Rd might be a good place to start…

Currently you’ll only find this gem behind the bars of the finest New Zealand watering holes. Jacob’s entrepreneurial flair should see  distribution increase directly, so keep a vigilant watch and ask your trusty bartender. If you do find it, they’ll give you the rest of the bottle alongside your drink as part of the ritual.

Plymouth was delightful in a pairing with my sample, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays with a host of others over the Christmas period.

New Zealand, Spirit

Stolen Rum

It seems as though the world has not seen the last of premium spirits started by passionate entrepreneurs from New Zealand.

The Boys from Stolen Rum were in town for Sydney Bar Show and I was lucky enough to run into them out at Bondi for a taste of this Rum from the Antipodes. The Gold, which picked up a double gold in San Fran this year, is rich and full. It screams out for an Old Fashioned, but is certainly smooth enough to drink alone.  It would be interesting to try a further aged version of this, although cold climate aging of rum might prodcue some interesting results (do they age Screech?)

Fans of the now extinct white incarnation of Seven Tiki Rum will be happy about the blanco version from Stolen. It seems like something great happens with can distillate from abroad is brought to New Zealand and mixed with our pure waters. It’s kind of a pineapple note, that was prominent in Seven Tiki and is back like an old friend in Stolen.

The rest of the taste profile is welcomely fresh. Fruity and floral, it is a rum that adds to most of the classics; Think perfumed daiquiris and tasty mojitos. I’m looking forward to having some fun with this as the summer comes on.

Where can you get it? Well, unless you’re lucky enough to have connections or live on the shaky isles of the long white cloud, you can’t. Currently international expansion plans are still beyond the immediate horizon but they’re certainly thinking about it. Any of you who are lucky enough to be travelling back to NZ for a summer holiday should be able to find bottles in JR duty free to assist in putting some festive in the season.

There is a holding site up for the brand, but becoming a fan on facebook seems to be the better way to stay up to date.

Bar, New Zealand

On Tour: Hooch

If 42Below is going to hold another Cocktail World Cup in Wellington, Hooch is going to need buy some more shot glasses. That said, for a bar to be inundated by the assorted drinking Illuminati and round after round of Montys, and my only negative statement to be a lack of shot glasses, it really says a lot.

I can’t say I had the chance to make my way through the list, but the Old Pal Chris Hysted pulled together in his head from the back bar tasted pretty good later in the evening, the shots of Maraschino, taken from egg cups, were also more palatable than I expected.

The fries are a lifesaver later in the night. The little upstairs saloon holds a handful of small tables and a couple of cosy nooks. Beware if you sit under the horns, the wallpaper does strange things to your head after one too many.

Owned by the same team that bought you Hawthorn lounge, a stumble down Tory St.

Upstairs, 46 Courtenay Place
Te Aro 6011, New Zealand

On Google Maps here.

This is the last in the series of fantastic bars I visited in Wellington. It’s a great town, and one of the world’s great bar cities. If you’re into good food, great bars and a well mixed drink. Jump a plane today.

Cocktail, New Zealand

The Jumbo Mumbo

I wrote a few days ago about Ben Simpson’s amazing Gunpowder Rum, at last, the third and final of a limited series of cocktails that feature the unique spirit.

Ben entered this as a contender in this year’s competition to find the official cocktail of Tales of the Cocktail is this Tiki inspired drink.

This drink is partly based on the Zombie and the Planter’s Punch recipe given in the Mr. Boston cocktail book.

The Jumbo Mumbo

30ml Man O’War Gunpowder Rum
30ml Lustau Don Nuno, Dry Oloroso sherry
15ml hibiscus syrup
2 lime wedges
1 ruby grapefruit wedge
2 dashes green tea syrup
2 dashes Fee Brothers Bitters
Rose Wine

Muddle the fruit with the syrups then add all but the wine. Shake with demonic possession then strain into ice-filled glass of appropriate Tiki-ness. Top with the rose wine and garnish with hibiscus flower, a cherry, grapefruit wedge, a wet mint sprig rolled in caster sugar, etc.

Cocktail, New Zealand

The Pirate Jenny

I wrote a few days ago about Ben Simpson’s amazing Gunpowder Rum, now the second of a limited series of cocktails that feature the unique spirit.

This rich beverage is based on a cocktail from ‘Bartender’s Guide by Trader Vic’ (1948) called the Black Strap.

The Pirate Jenny

40ml Man O’War Gunpowder Rum
20ml Mount Gay XO Rum
15ml liquid honey
15ml boiling water
4-5 fresh cherries (destalked and pitted)

muddle the water, honey and cherries. Stir in the rums, top with ice. Enjoy.

The fire of the Gunpowder rum is brought to heal by the juice of the cherries, while the Mount Gay gives a lingering toasted vanilla and oak note. Crush in the cherry stones if you want a more nut-like flavour.

A good winter drink to sit by the fire with.

Ben re-named this version after a character from the modern(?) folk song, The Black Freighter, made (semi-) popular by the ’70s band Steeleye Span.

It tells the story of a tavern wench’s day-dreams of a pirate ship called the Black Freighter that will one day sail into town and deal to all those against which she has a grudge, if not the whole town. Afterwards they will name her ‘Pirate Jenny’ and they’ll all sail off together.

Perhaps that’s her portrait on the bottle of Man O’War?

There is a German language version called ‘Der Schiff mit acht Segeln’ sung by Lotte Lenya – a favourite of Kurt Weill, who wrote the original.

Bar, New Zealand

On Tour: Havana Bar

Havana is to Wellington’s drinking scene what Fidel Castro was to Cuba.

This place stands for something different. A different set of rules.

It might not be as shiny as the other bars, the staff might be just a little bit more tattooed and pierced than the rest of the crews on Cuba St, the crowd might be what a well mannered, compassionate conservative would describe as ‘colorful’

Despite this, and more than just a little bit because of it, this is a place you have to visit. Spontaneous music at the front of the house, pulling in anyone who’s game. Genuine, loud laughter out back, its a place that rocks.

Great selection of rums, grab a measure and a beer back and find a seat out back.

32 Wigan Street, Te Aro 6011, New Zealand‎ – (04) 384 7041‎

On Google Maps here.

Cocktail, New Zealand

The Drake

I wrote a few days ago about Ben Simpson’s amazing Gunpowder Rum, here is the first of a limited series of cocktails that feature the unique spirit.

The Drake

30ml Man O’War Gunpowder Rum
20ml Havana Club 7yr
3 fresh hulled strawberries
20ml balsamic drizzle syrup (available from good deli’s)
2 dashes simple syrup
5 basil leaves

Muddle all except alcohol. Add the rums and shake resolutely.
Strain into chilled martini glass (either modern or antique cut crystal from a junk shop).

Garnish: sprig of basil and whole strawberry on rim of glass, finish with grind of black pepper.

Named after Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596), some time favourite of Queen Elizabeth I.
The combination of strawberries, balsamic and black pepper is from the Elizabethan age, while Drake was active in the Caribbean as a privateer. To the Spanish speaking peoples of the area he was known as ‘El Draque’ and famous for his exploits taking gold from the Spanish who were, in their turn, on their way home from plundering the Americas.

It is said that an early form of the Mojito was drunk in the Caribbean during the 16th Century and was called ‘El Draque’. Ben would be interested to see historical proof of this.

Bar, New Zealand

On Tour: Motel

Motel is pretty famous. Apart from being the home of Gunpowder Rum, denying elfin princess Liv Tyler entry and having one of the most impressive back bars of any bar, anywhere, Motel is the only place 42 Below vodka Professor Jacob Briars has ever been fired from mutually agreed with management that it is time to move on.

I pressed him for details, but he evaded my inquisition with a deft and ruthless efficiency. In the absence of fact, I’ll just have to make something up. This is the small chance I had imbibed to much to remember his tale, but that’s not how I recall things.

Knowing Jacob as a man of principle, I suspect he went under duress, fighting for the rights of the disestablished proletariat. For those of you unburdened by a comprehensive legal and political indoctrination like the one you would find, at say, Victoria University atop Wellington’s ivory hills, I’ve included the following diagram to assist you.

Despite his forebears land ownership in the lilting valleys near the Orinoco Flow, Jacob maintains a fanatical belief in a governments ability to perpetuate bureaucracy, thereby creating enough jobs to employ everyone for a period of approximately six days before the collapse of the economy and the reversion to subsistence farming.

It was in this vein then , that Jacob went into bat for poor Roger ‘Tom’ Thumb, nightsoilman, cabin boy and erstwhile dishbrush at Motel. Seeing the poor lad ruled, fooled and shot at, without a scrap to eat, Jacob stepped in with an ultimatum – “Conditions improve, or I’m out of here”

The downside of this tale is all Roger’s, I’m afraid. Doomed to a life amongst the Lumpen-proletariat, he was not heard from again. Jacob however stayed true to his working class principles, flogging pricey grain spirit, flavoured with an old French perfumers technique and contributing an admirable 46 tonnes of carbon to the Earth’s atmosphere, on a weekly basis. It is surely true what they say, the way to fight the system is from inside it.

Segue over, Motel is one of Wellington’s finest bars, and Ben Simpson, one of its finest tenders. Seriously a must visit to see the experiments underway (3yr old pear infused vodka, a highlight), to drink the history of a place, and perhaps a few Gunpowder draughts as well.

A must visit while you’re in town.

Level 1/4th Forresters Lane, Te Aro 6011, New Zealand‎ – (04) 384 9084‎

On Google Maps here.

New Zealand, The Cure

The Burg of Ferg

Sometime ago I started chronicling the avenues along which one could escape the pain of the hangover. I write now to tell you of a cure so powerful, so perfect, indeed so effective that I am not entirely sure in my own mind that it exists at all.

I speak of course of the Burgers of Ferg; Bun Laden, Cockadoodle Oink, Bambi’s Mother, Big Al for the truly ambitious, fries with wasabi aioli. The products served from this little window to heaven have the strange power to erase the misdemeanors of the immediate past and deliver you, sated, into a less blurry and overall survivable tomorrow.

I’m pretty sure you just have to stumble out of any bar in Queenstown, turn at any intersection at random and you’ll either be at Ferg’s or fall into Lake Wakatipu. Either one will work I suppose.

42 Shotover street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand‎ – (03) 441 1232‎

On Google maps here. And this is what it looks like:

New Zealand, Spirit

Man O’War Gunpowder Rum

So many unique spirits are produced far from the shark filled, reef bound seas of the Oceanic South Pacific. It seems like I’m constantly reading about a new candyfloss vodka in New York, Mezcal slipping over the border into SoCal or tiny batch production of frozen vacuum gin.

The candyfloss vodka I can do without, but the other stuff just pisses me off. It’s with a smug look, then,  that I write about Man O’War Gunpowder Rum.

A one man operation in Wellington, blending rums, infusing with chili, tobacco and real old timey muzzle loading musket powder. Man O’War has a two week maturation before the dregs are removed and the product wrapped and readied for sale. (Early brews were delivering a heavy blow to any foolish enough to take the last of the bottle, an extreme laxative effect had the poor souls “running the Spanish Main”. Ben Simpson, of Motel Bar in Wellington is behind the brand, and while his cottage methods mean standards vary, (each bottle is described ‘unique’) the Gunpowder Rum has developed a fast following around the seven seas.

Gunpowder Rum harks back to a time when the naval ration was ‘proved’ by the men of the line, to check that the officers had not bought cheap or badly distilled product or worse, watered the spirit down. High proofs with methanol present would flame and flare, revealing their danger. Rum with too much water would hold no flame at all and well made rum would hold a flame that burned true.

While gunpowder varied wildly and means that the test would be open to wide interpretation, it makes for a colourful and engaging legend. As I’ve said before, if you have to choose between truth and the legend, choose the legend.

Certainly it doesn’t require much imagination to think of other ways Gunpowder and Rum might have come to taken together. Either through smuggling both as contraband or use as antiseptic and preservative on the long sea passage, or maybe like the soldiers of Sierra Leone, they mixed narcotic intoxicant with the black powder simply because between those two things was life, and altogether not much else.

The rum itself is strongly flavoured and adds the ‘funk’ that many old books cite as the epiphany Jamaican Rum brought to drinks, tiki styled or else. If like me you like a tale, it adds much more than taste. Making Grog with gunpowder really feels all the more authentic.

Ben has not stopped at a single product line. In 2012, the first bottles of Powder Keg will be available, after a three year maturation on a bed of soil taken from a cemetery and used in a bloody voodoo ritual. Methinks it does not pay to be a fowl of Ben Simpson.

If a bottle you must have, the Man O’War facebook page is probably your best bet to arrange safe passage. Usually a complex system of barter is required.

I’ll post a couple of the signature cocktails Ben has come up with here in the next couple of days too.

Bar, New Zealand, Restaurant

On Tour: Logan Brown

Ok, so Logan Brown is really a more of a restaurant than a bar, but I have a connection here that drew me back like a moth to a flame.

Logan Brown is the first place I can remember making the jump from from mixed drinks and the occasional shaker/shooter into the esteemed and wonderful world of the cocktail proper. This transition was not heralded by anything as lofty as a desire to become (more) stylish, cultured or storied. I was, like many before me, led to the shrine of the fancy drink by the wiles of a hot female bartender. I forget how many drinks I purchased, or hours I spent, but obviously in the end it was completely time well spent. Back in Wellington for the first time in years, I simply had to make time for a visit.

Cuba St is a revelation to all who love good food and drink, a colorful stroll up the mall and one block more will deposit you on the corner of Vivian and Cuba, looking across the intersection at the old time bank that houses Logan Brown.

Enter, take a stool at the bar and ask for a free table for lunch. Stick to the classics; well made G&T’s, hand shaken daiquiris, a Negroni or two. The wine list is also fantastic.

I couldn’t finish without mention of the food. Chef’s Steve and Al love the access to ingredients that New Zealand affords, and the menu reflects that. Game, Kai Moana (The bounty of the Sea) and the best vegetables available dress the plates.  You must try Paua Ravioli, New Zealand’s native abalone, encased in perfect pasta pockets, swimming in a lime beurre blanc. I think it’s worth flying around the world for.

All round a great place for fine food, cold drinks and engaging company. Just like this lovely bunch at the bar really.
192 Cuba Street, Wellington 6141, New Zealand‎ – (04) 801 5114‎

On Google maps here, and online here as well.

Cocktail, Competitions, New Zealand

42 Below Cocktail World Cup Grand Final Redux

My massive week with 42  Below finished up last Saturday with the finals of Cocktail World Cup. The competition was the brainchild of founder, Geoff Ross. Now in its 6th year, the World Cup sees bartenders from around the world challenged to develop and produce a cocktail to rival the classics, extra marks are awarded for delivering the drink with humour and style that reflects the brands values as well.

Heaps of brands now fly bartenders to the country of production to provide them an “authentic” brand experience. 42 lets the animal out of the cage, good and proper. The whole deal was promoted as a Love, Drinks and Rock’n’Roll, which is how a lawyer references the excesses of Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll.

The final itself is the culmination of many months, semifinals around the world determine who gets to go down to New Zealand, experience the brand in its home. I thought I’d share a little piece of the finals with you, the teams, their drinks and the event itself. It’s not quite the same as being there, but as there were only 600 tickets, chances are you weren’t.

Get amongst, after the jump.

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Bar, New Zealand

On Tour: Matterhorn

Excuse me if I gush a while, this place deserves it.

Just past the Bucket Fountain, on, a little, up the street.

To your left there lies a corridor, down which things, they are, well, sweet.

Whether you’ve come to drink the night away, or nose poke, for a look.

Swing the doors, inhale, smile, it’s the right decision that you’ve took.

I love this place. The Horn has been a Wellington institution since it opened in 1963. Serving Wellington’s soul with fine food, drinks and the very definition of hospitality. The restaurant serves up well prepared cuisine, check out this amazing Rabbit Terrine, my entree.

It can be hard to get your first drink, but once you’ve the attention at the bar, carefully prepared libation will appear with perfect regularity. The staff are tight and love the place they work, you can taste the love in every sip.

A great list, 381 bottles on the back bar and a stellar wine list  make this place a real delight. It has been home to many of the talents of New Zealand bartending, and many drinks have popped into existence here, including the Bacchus Riesling and the Falling Water.

Truly a place in the world to visit, cherish and share. Go, Now.

106 Cuba Street
Te Aro 6011, New Zealand
(04) 384 3359

On Google maps, here.

Cocktail, Event, MixMarch, New Zealand

MixMarch #29: The Flying Dutchman

Updating the Classics is a tricky business. You are taking a recipe that is loved by people around the world. It’s a fucking hard thing to do with any level of success. Imagine my surprise then, when American Bartender of the Year, Jim Meehan, stepped up to update both a classic and one of my favourite drinks, the Aviation Cocktail.

I’ve tried a few updates on the Aviation, and most end up like the Cherry Aviation at Pocket Bar in Burton St, too sweet, too different, just not really at all like the Cocktail they’re supposed to be channeling.

This is so very different to that scenario.

Jim’s drink amplifys everything I love about the Aviation, Strong, Sour and fruity floral. Sitting at home back in Sydney, I’m ready to book a ticket, pack my bags and fly half way around the world just so he can make me another one.

The Flying Dutchman

.75 oz. (22.5mls) Clear Creek Plum Brandy, .75 oz. (22.5mls) Bols Genever, .5 oz. (15mls) Creme Yvette .5 oz. (15mls)Lemon Juice, .5 oz. (15mls) Pineapple Juice, 1 Barspoon (5mls) of Luxardo Maraschino

Shake with ice and fine strain into a chilled coupe

Garnish with one brandied cherry

(Jim Meehan, Winter 2010)

An ancestor of the Aviation Cocktail, first published in Hugo Ensslin’s Recipes for Mixed Drinks in 1916, this blue plum, pineapple, cherry and violet accented sour references Dutch genever, not the cursed ship forever lost at sea.

Cocktail, MixMarch, New Zealand

MixMarch #28: The World’s Biggest Flip

Flips are notoriously hard to get right. the taste, the consistency and the fact most people seem to have some issue with eating raw eggs (they will not, so long as they are fresh) all work against them. It was with some degree of trepidation, then, that I took part in the World’s largest flip last night at Hawthorn.

The World’s Biggest Flip.

To start, combine 13 eggs with 300mls of cream. whisk to ensure a smooth consistency.

In a 42Below Magnum, combine 250mls PX Sherry, 180mls 42Below Manuka Honey vodka, the egg and cream mixture, 1 bottle (750 mls) 42Below Pure vodka. Shake well. Pour into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with fresh spices. Serves 25.

Competitions, New Zealand

USA takes the Trophy!!!

It was a close run thing but the USA are winners of the Cocktail World Cup. All the teams were highly impressive but the Bonded Applejack drink these boys put up. More detail and the liveblog can be found over wit Camper at Alcademics.

Can’t wait to have the drink, and I’ll tack down the recipe for you all tomorrow.

Thanks to a quick read by 42’s Professor of vodka, Jacob Briars, I happily stand corrected. USA’s winning drink was the “Thyme of my life”. The Applejack featured in the bitters the boys made up.

The Thyme of my Life

45mls 42 Below Pure, 30mls Cynar, 45mls lime and thyme syrup, 3 dashes apple bitters (90% 42 Pure, 10% bonded Applejack) stirred over ice and grnished with a compressed apple garnish.

Photo tomorrow.

Cocktail, MixMarch, New Zealand

MixMarch #27: The Tao of Pu

Jim Meehan, owner of PDT in New York, doesn’t like vodka. That makes him at the very least a very strange choice for a judge at a vodka contest.

Or, at least, he didn’t. Jim, recently named American Bartender of the Year, has just put a Carlson vodka Old Fashioned on the list at PDT (recently named Bar of the Year, as well)

Making cocktails in front of a tired but extremely interested crowd of the best young talent from behind bars around the world, Jim said the hatred that bartenders had for vodka as an agent of erosion of the skills, craft and taste of cocktails is quickly becoming a thing of the past. People like having great drinks, they’ll drink Gin, Tequila, Genever and not blindly ask for a replacement with the neutral spirits.

This drink was introduced as the one that had to be made to get Jim down to NZ, but for a Honeylover, it’s something quite special.

The Tao of Pu

30mls Coconut water, 15mls 42Below Manuka Honey vodka, 15mls Galliano Liqueur, 3 dashes Fee Brothers Lemon Bitters.

Shake, strain and serve up.

Event, New Zealand

The Luck of the Irish

The 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup is all about making extraordinary cocktails in  extraordinary environments. Many of the challenges are judged on the originality and creativity of the drinks, but when it comes to measuring the skills of a true bartender, one drink sets the benchmark- the classic Martini. “Modern Martini’ was the fourth challenge in the 2010 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup, the eight teams all preparing their version of the timeless drink.

The panel of four international judges recommended contestants keep things simple for this round, and that was exactly what the winners did. The competition’s loveable, if slightly loud, rogues- Team Ireland, taking it by the slightest of margins. Their appropriately titled ‘Kia Kaha’ (meaning ‘stand strong’ in Maori) was made of 42BELOW Pure, Lillet Blanc and sprayed with a Feijoa mist. In typical Irish style, the team came up with their winning entry on the bus on the way to the event! “I’m truly blown away to have won tonight, we’ve been gutted every time we have lost a challenge, we really wanted to do this for each other” says Team Ireland big man Andy Wall. US Bartender of the Year and our esteemed judge Jim Meehan said the Irish entry stood out for its simplicity and elegance, “it’s a drink I would be proud to serve in my bar,” said Meehan.

The Modern Martini challenge was the first event to be held in Wellington in the lead up to the grand final on Saturday March 27th, where the teams will prepare their signature drink for a live audience.

The convoy of bartenders, international judges and media had the ultimate ending to the Queenstown leg of the cup, being taken by helicopter from the Skyliner Gondola to the airport for their own rock ‘n’ roll charter flight. It was an inflight experience like never before, passengers provided with rock star wigs and glasses while sipping on a 42BELOW ‘Aviation’ cocktail and listening to AC/DC on takeoff. The plane was met by a scrum of local ‘papparazzi’ as they transferred to their stretch limos for a brief tour of the capital. “It’s the closest we’ll ever get to being real rock stars. I’ve never been treated so well before,  it was stupidly good,” says Australian team member and the country’s bartender of the year Chris Hysted.

Kia Kaha

50ml 42BELOW Pure
20ml Lillet Blanc
42Below Feijoa Vodka mist

Bar, New Zealand

On Tour: Hawthorn Lounge

Up the dark stairs you’ll find a quiet and refined gem of a bar serving up storied drinks with a great degree of care and humor.

Try the Pedro Jimenez Flip. awesome. Take 25 friends along with you and have it shaken up in a 42 magnum.

Just one little shameless plug, I’ve been taking photos on a Canon Powershot S90 compact camera. It is absolutely the best low light bar camera I have ever used. It sucks up light and captures the feel of a bar without drowning everything in a flash.

Find it here on Google maps.
82 Tory Street
Te Aro 6011
(04) 890 3724
Cocktail, Event, MixMarch, New Zealand

MixMarch #25: The B&B

The second drink that Simon Difford made at his Masterclass session was the B&B. A fusion of vodka and tequila, the B&B is named for Professor Jacob Briars and Julio Bermejo, of Tommy’s Restaurant in San Franciso.

The drink features another of Simon’s soon to be released range of cocktail bitters, this time Lavender. It also uses Agave Sec, a Triple Sec sweetend with the syrup of the fruit of tequila itself.

The B&B

30mls 42Below Manuka Honey vodka, 30mls Herradura tequila, 22.5mls Agave Sec, 15mls lime juice, 3 dashes Difford’s Lavender bitters. Shake over ice and strain up.

Bar, New Zealand

On Tour: Bar Up

It’s an upstairs bar that is tiny, but pack it with folks and it rocks. Great drinks, mixed by fun and friendly bartenders.

This bar is extra special for me because whenever I come to Queenstown I seem to end up making cocktails and last night was no exception. Aviation shooters, Blood Orange Bronx cocktails and many shots of vodka.

Great time had by all.

Searle Lane
Queenstown 9300
New Zealand
P: 03 442 7067
Event, New Zealand

The Kiwis bash one out

The New Zealand team notched up a challenge win in Sunshine Bay on Lake Wakatipu yesterday, with their special it’s 42bro, served up in a sawn off 420 water bottle.

The challenge took all of 8 minutes for each team, with a random box of ingredients being provided and teams getting bonus points for using more ingredients but still producing a balanced drink.

It’s 42 bro

42BELOW Vodka
Jose Cuervo tradicional
Fresh apricot
‘Rocket’ sauce
Vanilla sugar
Chestnut syrup
English Breakfast tea syrup
Peychaud’s Bitters

Muddle Rocket sauce and apricots,  add all ingredients, shake and strain. Garnish with chopped,  fresh papaya sprinkled with vanilla sugar and grapefruit zest.

Bar, New Zealand

On Tour: Debajo

Tucked down just a few stairs of Cow Lane is Debajo, a tiki and dance bar with a staff best described as vibrant. These guys make their own Rumbullion, and a few other ingredients to boot. Go and enjoy some great tiki drinks, especially rock down a Volcano with a few friends.

Watch out for flooding if it rains though…

below Cow Lane, Queenstown
(03) 442-6099
Event, New Zealand

Smack in the Face?

No, not really. This is a post about Punch, the community liquor that really is quicker.

Last night at the house of one of the men credited with the lyrics for Eye of the Tiger, 42Below rocked out, with the second Cocktail World Cup Challenge, the 21st Century Punch contest. The Americans came away with a win, serving up their punch in hollowed out mangosteens, topped with a passionfruit vodka ‘cloud’

I’ve got a recipe coming, but you’ll have to come back for that.


42BELOW Honey
42BELOW Passionfruit
Sazerac Rye
white rum
NZ Sauvignon Blanc
passionfruit juice
Sencha green tea
fresh passionfruit
luxardo cherries
Lemon Juice
Champagne to taste
Serve with Passionfruit balls.

Other highlights of the night were getting a drink made for by both Chris Hysted, Australian Bartender of the Year & Jim Meehan, American Bartender of the Year.

Cocktail, MixMarch, New Zealand

MixMarch #24: Whoop It Up

Simon Difford had pulled together one of the most comprehensive websites in the world, Difford’s Guide. He also publishes Class Magazine. To top it all off he loves a Daiquiri. He talked yesterday at Cocktail World Cup and made a few drinks. This was one of them, You might have to wait just a moment to make it, as Simon’s Bitters are not yet in General availability, but hold tight, they’re on their way…

The Whoop It Up

30mls Bacardi, 30mls 42Below Manuka Honey Vodka, 15mls Benedictine, 7.5mls Canton Ginger Liqueur, 15mls Lemon Juice, 3 dashes Diffords Daiquiri Bitters. Shake, strain and serve up.

Whoop, Whoop!

Event, New Zealand

Mocktail Challenge on the Shotover Jet

Challenge One is done and dusted, with teams mixing up a modern mocktail using fresh fruits, Monin syrups and juices. Team Australia came away with the win, with Chris Hysted managing to keep at least some of the drink in the glass and get it to Justin Mackenzie and get top scores.

Tonight they’ll ride to the Punch Party on Harley Davisons, like the rockstars they are.

Bar, New Zealand

On Tour: BarMuda

Tucked away on Searle Lane in Queenstown, BarMuda is a great little venue with a long well stocked bar.  Outside a wide open fireplace will keep you warm on the cold Queenstown nights. If you manage to stay all night, Joe’s Garage next door is the place to grad a Jester and a flat white.

Great apres bar.

Searle Lane
T:  64 3 442 7300
Event, New Zealand

And so it begins

Flights into Queenstown were met in branded buses and thrown from the Kawara Gorge bridge (conviently a height of 42 meters) as their introduction to the 42Below Cocktail World Cup.

Yesterday was all about getting to know the teams, blowing out the cobwebs and rolling out the welcome wagon. The formal part of the evening rolled to a close at Canyon Lodge, where a four course degustation with Cocktails paired to each dish were offered up to assembeld horde. The highlights for me (apart from the plunge of the bridge) were, meeting the some of the judging panel, Simon Difford of Diffords Guide, Vernon Chalker of much Melburnian fame and Jim Meehan, American Bartender of the year. All of these guys will be making an appearance on these pages in the coming days.

Food wise, the fresh Ocean Salmon, paired with the Bacchus Reisling was exceptional.

MixMarch, New Zealand

MixMarch #22: The Vodka Cocktail

I’m sitting in the Koru Lounge waiting with anticipation for my flight to Queenstown and 42Below’s Cocktail World Cup. This once evry odd yearly event represents a pinnacle in bar tending & cocktail events worldwide. Where most events are held inside the darkened halls of the bar world, or in stuffy private clubs, Cocktail World Cup showcases the home of 42Below and challenges bartenders to compete, learn and experience the wonderful place that is New Zealand.

The Vodka Cocktail

Take 42 bartenders from right around the world, muddle gently until they’re all in Queenstown. Add one part amazing scenery, two parts adventure sports and a dash of the Rockstar lifestyle. Mix vigorously from Queenstown to Wellington and serve up with a massive fanfare on a production stage. This drink should be served with at least one Fergburger on the side.

I’ll be at Cocktail World Cup all week, seeing what these bartenders will bring to the glass is an exciting proposition and the team at 42 never fails to deliver an amazingly hospitable time. Look forward to a week of great content.

Oh, and I musn’t forget the cocktail you can drink…

True 42

Fill a Rocks glass with ice, and squeeze in 3 wedges of lime. Add one part of 42BELOW vodka, and stir well.  Fill with ice again, and squeeze in more lime, and add remaining 42BELOW vodka.  Stir well again, and serve.

Event, New Zealand

7 left to go…

Seven Sleeps ‘Til Lift-Off In The 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup 2010

Right now, in all corners of the globe, 24 of the world’s best bartenders are polishing their shakers, dusting off their muddlers, packing their skinniest pair of jeans and a few favourite, top secret ingredients. Yup, it’s only a week to go ‘til the 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup 2010 kicks off -it’s all about ‘Love, Drinks and Rock n Roll, Baby!’.

The bartenders are about to have the experience of a lifetime, a one off chance to take part in the world’s most extreme cocktail making competition in the home of 42BELOW, New Zealand. Contestants from the New York, London, Dublin, Milan, Rome, Paris, Sydney, Melbourne, Wellington and Auckland will assemble in Queenstown on Monday 22nd March for four days of cocktail making and adrenalin pumping challenges. Their every move (even the dodgy dance ones) will be scrutinised by four international judges, including the recently crowned American ‘bartender of the year’ Jim Meehan. “For the past few years, the 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup has drawn rave reviews from judges and contestants alike.  After a week -long examination of each participants ability to work individually and as a team player with national bragging rights on the line, the competition pushes bartenders out of their comfort zone into real-time scenarios,” Meehan says, with a 42BELOW cocktail in his hand.

The competition will be set in some of the South Island’s most spectacular locations and includes ‘Modern Martini’, ‘Ready, Steady, Shake’ and the ‘Mocktail’ challenge. Contestants will also take part in a series of cocktail ‘summits’- educational workshops hosted by some of the most influential people in the industry. And, in true 42BELOW style, there’ll be a fair few surprises too. “This group of bartenders work at the best bars, clubs and parties around the world. We’re honoured they’re coming on tour with us in New Zealand and I know they’ll be blown away by what 42BELOW has in store for them next week,” says 42BELOW CEO Paul Dibbayawan.

From Queenstown this motley group of mixologists will head north to New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, home of the country’s hippest night spots. They’ll have time to take in some of the sights, namely an oddly shaped parliament building and a few hairy hobbits. They’ll also have time to perfect their signature drink ahead of a jaw dropping grand final event on March 27th at Wellington’s Old Museum Building. The teams will take to the stage alongside real life rockers, kiwi chart toppers Midnight Youth and the winners of the 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup will be crowned.

It’s a week-long party in the world’s ultimate playground, all thanks to a crazy little vodka brand from the bottom of the earth. Who would have thought?
For more information please contact Belinda Henley.