Bar, Sydney

Vasco. Go.

254864_366744006749117_2098921301_nSmall bars have been the making of Sydney’s nightlife in the past few years, as licensing limits have fallen and allowed those whose passion exceeds their bank accounts to get into the business for themselves.

Seeing curated concepts come to life is an utter joy, and nowhere is that more true than at Max Greco’s Vasco on Cleveland St in Surry Hills. The awesome rock’n’roll space is covered from top to bottom in ephemera, from the drum kit built over and around the bar, to the fender stools or the record on the roof. Max has always had one of the biggest personalities in Sydney bartending, and with Vasco the venue, experience and drinks positively radiate his essence. A few drinks in, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’re inside Max, in a totally platonic way of course.

The drinks are excellent, from fruity lady-killers laced with tequila, to my favourite listed drink in Sydney today, Coffee & Cigarettes. Greco’s World Class partner behind the bar, for now at least, came up with this incredible beverage, tying coffee infused gin with bitter amaro and oranges. The on-the-rock drink is everything i’m looking for in a glass.

The snacks too are epic, homestyle inspired italian favourites. The gorgonzola smothered polenta chips haunt my dreams, calling in their sweet siren song for my return.

Vasco is one year old today. Take a date, and Max’s shameless flirting will break the ice on even the most awkward of outings, take a client and get the cred for an out of the way gem, take your parents and they’ll love the vignettes to their youth and the boozy connection to your present.

Go tonight.

Vasco. 421 cleveland street surry hills nsw 2010 australia | map



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.




Event, Sydney

2013 Bar Week Ahoy

barweekSeriously, where has this fucking year gone?

It seems like about two seconds ago when Dave Spanton was talking about the changes to Bar Week this year and the shift away from an exhibition to an events schedule to engage consumers and trade.

You’re already too late for the workshops on the trade side, but there is still action to be had at parties, plus the Bartender Magazine Awards, which will feature the finals integrated into the dinner itself, which should be a hecklers dream as the trade degenerates over the course of the evening.!parties/c1o5o

For those of you who sit in front of bars instread of working behind them, there are a bunch of options. Champagne tasting with paired nibbles at the Roosevelt, Malts at Eau de Vie, The Man vs Food Nacho Chili Challenge at the Cleveland and Woodford Reserve 5 course cocktail pairing menu at O Bar Dining.!consumer-events/c207j

Less than two weeks to Bar Week people. Get involved.

Bar, Sydney

I review the most reviewed bar in Sydney right now

398057_487548354617067_1660761824_nThrough this rather nondescript and rather unadorned  doorway you’ll find a rickety staircase.

Climb two flights and you’ll enter a 50 odd square meter room where some of the best cocktails in Sydney, if not the world are served. The focus is on classic recipes, featuring seasonal local produce. The Wayward Lady that whet my lips laid mandarin, rum, lime & honey with a dash of Cynar across perhaps the most perfect balance. Taste snobs can roll the flavours across their tongues, marveling at the presence of each ingredient and the beautiful lingering finish. The less pompous would just stare, mouths agape, at the gorgeous, chilled stemware as the level of the delicious liquid drops to nothing with each tasty mouthful.

The six drinks change daily, so you’ll be presented with different choices when you step upon a stair and fight the crowds for one of four seats at the bar, or the handful of tables that crowd the room. My advice would be to pick any or all of them.

Some I’ve talked to seem to think the fit out doesn’t do justice to the hundred grand prize Tim Philips picked up at World Class last year, which is rather harsh given the swag was apparently 1,600 Edith Cowan’s short of that sum.  large cash and pouring prizes have only been introduced this year. The lighting’s low, the voices raised, a crate of whisky lurks stage-left for any wanting an education or something to tell their drinking buddies about. The back bar offers two stark shelves, more than making up in oddity what it lacks in variety.

The service proffered here is great. Adi Ruiz, Rob Sloane and Tim Philips have CV’s that read like a barfly’s wish list, and all share the glorious commonality of time served at the Black Pearl in Melbourne. Technicians behind the stick, their stars shine brighter still on the floor. Cocktail drinking as it should be; cracking liquid, cosy surrounds and people that make you feel right at home.

I might have been the last booze writer in Sydney to tick this one of my list, but if you haven’t found it (or heard about it) you should go.

Tonight, tomorrow night, every night.

I’m walking there right now.

On Google maps here and facebook here, in my mind forever. Well played lads, 263 out of 10.

Bar, Melbourne, Sydney

Boom! A cocktail book you can get involved with.

541845_549492218424030_468301822_nSven and his band of merry men at Eau De Vie have made a start on something pretty special.

It’s a cocktail book, and instead of having it appear without fanfare on the market, they’ve decided to crowdfund the photography and production.

There are any number of packages/products and offers, although the 2.5k bar tabs with 10 signed books have understandably sold out already.

Get involved here. They’ve already met the target, so this is happening people!



Awards, Event, Sydney

Win! Your chance for a free double pass to DrinksFest this weekend!

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the coming excellence that is Sydney Bar Week.

For the first time the experience is open to the general public on Sunday the 23rd, and Dave Spanton has been kind enough to offer 50 double passes to my readers (valued at $50).

It’s a great chance to experience some of the wonderful brands that are established or entering the market, there’ll also be a discounted store where you can buy a couple of bottles to take home.

The first 50 people to email Dave at with the ingredients that make up a Last Word cocktail will win, he’ll probably want your name and number too. You’ll need to be over 21, and have the photo ID to prove it to gain entry on the day.

Head over to for more info on the day and the other great events that make up the week.

If you need some help answering the question, you can find the ingredients listed here.

Awards, Spirit, Sydney

Dram it! Whisky will flow on the streets of Sydney.

You could be a lover of whisky, or just wanting to learn a little more about the Scottish spirit, or maybe you’ve realised that it takes more than a little of Obama’s tailoring style to pull off a convincing Don Draper.

Regardless of which bucket you sit in, the 2012 Whisky Show is the place to scratch the itch that a dram or to in your past delivers. 17 exhibitors, 150 whiskies, $50 gets you in and 10 tasting vouchers. Delicious.

For tickets and more info, I’d suggest a visit here.

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.

Bar, Sydney

The Roosevelt

When Sven Almenning launched the 1930’s style speakeasy in the troubled back space of the Kirketon Hotel on Darlinghurst Rd, I’m sure a lot of folk thought it, like it’s predecessors, would not be long on the Sydney scene. Instead, Eau de Vie set a new standard in cocktail bartending and service in Sydney and for the Australian continent as well. You no longer even have to trust the jaded hacks and bar bloggers like me, with an award from Tales of the Cocktail (the world’s leading cocktail and spirit event, if you didn’t know) as the best new cocktail bar on the planet and an outpost in the spiritual home of Australian drinking quality, Melbourne.

The best news yet? Team Eau de Vie is at it again.

The last ten days has seen the doors swing open on The Roosevelt, a welcome addition to the small but well formed drinking scene round the corner from the Cross in Potts Point.

Where the original venue was entrenched in the 1930’s, this new iteration references the 1940’s. It was a decade when women kicked off their shoes to host American troops, while their own men were fight for freedom abroad. It was the decade that marked the first racing of the Sydney to Hobart. It was a decade where Don Bradman scored his 100th century playing the Indians. Crime figures prospered from the moneyed up Yanks and the celebrations as a country found its feet and slaked its thirst again.

The venue takes its name from the flagship nightclub of Kings Cross Personality, Abe Saffron. The interiors reference Hollywood glamour more than Sydney’s history, with glass cabinetry showcasing the impressive collection of shakers and equipment that Sven has collected over the years.

The drinks list is small but perfectly formed. The style builds on the “cocktails you can’t make at home” ethic of the original Eau de Vie, with the delivery spec being taken up even more notches. Try the Roosevelt Refashioned‘s, smart tweaks on the trusted classic. #2 rests on a midori-esque mint ball that stretches and complements the bourbon and creme de peche wonderfully. Share Al Capone’s smugglers crate, which arrives at the table in, well, a crate. Smoke it up with a Dead End, served in a stunning art deco flask. Throw caution to the wind with a Nitro Colada or one of the other pearls from the roaming nitro trolley (pictured above)

Don’t fall in love with the cut crystal decanters that house almost every spirit in the place though, Amber Almenning is pretty sure her husband has bought every piece of available stock in the lucky country, but it does make stading at the bar that little bit more pleasurable. (Interestingly though, this is very much a lounge, the bar is a service area, sans stools, and the real action happens seated in the cosy booths.)

All that hopefully should convince you to go and immerse yourself in some of the city’s best drinking. The most well travelled amongst you will know a bar is defined by its concept only if the people that work there are up to the task. Happy days then, that Barry Chalmers, the charming (heh) Caledonian host who helped with the establishment of Eau de Vie and bedded down a strict but entirely worthwhile adherence to a spec which calls for nothing less than perfection. It’s great to have him back.

The hidden gem of The Roosevelt is through the door and out the back. Twin islands dominate a room established purely for the sport of cocktalian degustation. Accomodating 15 guest a piece, these tables will deliver on an idea that has been much vaunted around the world and only very rarely pulled off. Given the success this team has had at Eau de Vie and now in Melbourne, if anyone can it will be this lot.

Tickets will set you back $150 for five cocktails paired with five courses. I’ve seen other writing about the fact you’ll need to put a card up and pay in advance. While the practice is sure to raise some eyebrows, it should help ensure that the idea manages to make it from a good concept into a going concern.

If the food I tasted out the front, the standard and innovation involved will be something very special to behold. I understand that tonight is the first night it will be open to the public but you can call Barry on 0422 263 226 or email him on to find out for yourself.

Absolutely the must try venue of 2012.

32 Orwell Street, Potts Point, Australia 2011

Event, Sydney

Australia and Italy collide

The weekend just gone, Australia and Italy collided on the field at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

The Thursday previous, Smirnoff announced that the nightlife exchange for this year will mirror the weekends match up.

Essentially, Smirnoff polls it’s fans, selects act that best match the overall country from the votes and swap them for a night, this year on November 12.

Press release follows


Junior Jack & Kid Créme and Alex Gaudino set to headline notorious nightlife swap event

9 SEPTEMBER 2011: Today, the Smirnoff Co. revealed that on 12 November 2011 Australia will swap nightlife experiences with Italy as part of The Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project – a one-of-a-kind global experience in which 50 countries celebrate the best of their local nightlife. Junior Jack & Kid Créme and Alex Gaudino will headline the Italian-inspired Australia event, while Aussie group Nervo and Bang Gang Deejay’s will fly over to Italy to set the stage ablaze as the Italians receive the best of Australia’s homegrown nightlife, as voted by Australians.

The Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project sets out to uncover the best of global nightlife, and bring together different cultures to create an extraordinary nightlife experience. Italian DJ’s, Junior Jack & Kid Créme and Alex Gaudino have been hitting up nightclubs around the world for the last decade, performing at some of the dance music industry’s most coveted venues. Australian fans are in store for an incredible evening of music, dancing and of course, Italian-themed Smirnoff cocktails as well as a few surprises!

With the audacious goal of helping 10 million people discover, share and swap unique nightlife, the Australian team is already gearing up to be part of larger-than-life events worldwide. Once all of the suggestions are in, Australia’s ambassador Anna Lunoe will help select the ones that best represent Australia’s vibrant and varied nightlife. These ingredients will be packed into a crate for Italy to experience when the world swaps nights in the epic finale on 12 November.

Anna says: “I can wait for this event! I’m really looking forward to welcoming Junior Jack & Kid Créme and Alex Gaudino, and seeing how they recreate the Italian nightlife experience down under. I’m also super excited to see the best of Australia’s nightlife come alive for the people of Italy to enjoy. We have had some awesome suggestions so far on what makes Australia’s nightlife truly unique, so we expect the event on 12 November to be a one-of-a-kind experience in both countries!”

Smirnoff has asked 135,000 of their Australian fans to share their ideas and suggestions on the most original aspects of nightlife in Australia. Nearly 10,000 ideas have been submitted thus far from all corners of the globe, including local cocktail recipes, new dance styles, types of music and city fashion trends. Australian fans have joined in the discussion with 70% of fans boldly proclaiming that Australia has the best nightlife over all other global destinations! Fans can continue to submit their suggestions for what best characterises nightlife in Australia, via the Smirnoff Australia Facebook page and also enter the competition to win tickets to Be There at the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project event in a yet to be announced Australian location.

The evening would not be complete without a delicious Smirnoff cocktail – for a real taste of Italy, the Nonna Smith cocktail has been created especially by mixologist Max Grecco of world-renowned Sydney cocktail bar Eau de Vie to celebrate the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project in Australia:

Ingredients (1 standard drink)
1 pressed Granny Smith apple
30ml pear puree
20ml lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup

Add ingredients to a Boston Shaker filled with cubed ice
Shake and strain into a short glass
Garnish with apple slice

Last month Smirnoff announced Madonna’s invlovement in this year’s Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project. As well as submitting ideas on what makes Australian nightlife special, fans can enter the exclusive online dance competition. Smirnoff can now also reveal that Madonna will attend the New York celebration to help handpick the overall global winner of the dance competition alongside her choreographers Rich and Tone. Finalists will compete in front of Madonna for the winning spot. The winner may get the opportunity to join Madonnna on her next tour as one of her dancers. For entry information* and to win the chance to be there, visit

Spirit, Sydney

Johnnie Walker Blue. New.

This year Diageo has decided to tell a new story with Johnnie Walker Blue.

Jonathan Driver, the stately and superb ambassador for the brand will travel the world to introduce a new bottle, take the opportunity to tell the story of the brand once again to their most valued audiences and perhaps most importantly, meet out a few drams of frankly excellent whisky.

My good friend has scooped me to much of the news on this one, and you should really read his post to get the skinny.

The bottle has changed, and that certainly makes me value my old botttle more, but there is good reason for a break with tradtion.

The world is different now, mere products have evolved to brands and the perhaps the best now, as experiences. Johnnie Walker wanted to improve on the experience of owning a bottle of Blue Label. Holding it in your hands, pouring it to enjoy and sharing a whisky, and the story with others. The design has always been full of meaning, it now speaks with perhaps a firmer voice.

The blue tint, still present but much lighter than the traditional bottle. It has colour enough to be visually distinct from the rest of the Walker family, while allowing the golden hue of the necatrous liquid inside a much grander chance of shining through and standing out.

The bottle too, has kept four corners. The solid base of blue tinted glass sets your eyes more sharply, some lessons learned from the Gold Label bottle are trotted out again. The Walker family is all topped off in bottles with four corners. A nod to a rather poetic historical intent, first exercised in much rougher terms and language, in Old Highland; the first attempt at a saleable blend that bought the best of Scottish whisky tradition, manifest in glorious flavour nestled down together.

Spiritually, the blend changes in every batching. Whiskies from various distilleries are selected for extremely specific anomilies, but always with the same intent; to bring together the best of four corners of Scotland to your glass. There was made mention of Talisker barrels lucky enough to exhibit a peppery character, approximately one in every ten thousand.

Little surprise then that this not an experience that comes cheaply. Many would comment on your ability to get a great single malt for the same price point, and they’re right.

However, those game enough to lift a dram to their lips will not go unrewarded. It is quite simply sensational liqour; Citrus through stonefruit to toffees and buttery caramel, it delivers a textural finish with the smoke of Western coast subtle but deliciously present.

You might be able to dismiss this as mere marketing hype. The claims that are made, these stories told, this history professed; they are all warranted by the whisky inside the bottle.

It is delicious.

Dan Murphy’s has it for $169.

Awards, Bar, Sydney

I was drinking at the best new cocktail bar in the world on Friday night, where the hell were you?

Great news for the Australian small bar movement overnight, with leading light Eau de Vie snatching the honours at Tales of the Cocktail in Nawlins. This is an absolute testament to the house that Sven Almenning has built, and the quality of the talent producing drinks behind the stick there.

Sipping on a blue genever maitai with wintergreen essence on Friday night, the innovation, cheek and service were all in full display. This is a bar that revels in delivering world leading drinks in a way that stands out.

If you haven’t been, now would be the time. If you have been, at least you can say you knew about it before it was world famous.

Hearty congratulations for an amazing result.

Press release follows…

Eau-de-Vie was last night named as the World’s Best New Cocktail Bar at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards.
The awards are held annually in New Orleans, and are internationally recognised as the industry’s biggest and most influential awards worldwide.

The Darlinghurst small bar was amongst stiff competition, with only New York City venues as other nominees:

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar

●      1534, New
York City, New York

●      Dram, New
York City, New York

●      Eau de Vie,
Sydney, Australia

●     The bar formerly known as (Painkiller),
New York City, New York

Sven Almenning, owner of Eau de Vie said ‘It’s a huge honour to be recognised on a global level like this, and the team and I are overwhelmed with the response we’ve had to Eau-de-Vie. We set out to create a small cocktail bar where quality of drinks and service are king… I hope that we’re helping to drive trends on a global level rather than just following whatever’s happening in London and the U.S which have typically been seen as the leaders in our industry.’

Apart from World’s Best New Cocktail Bar, Eau-de-Vie was also nominated for two other awards including:

World’s Best Cocktail Menu

●      Artesian at
The Langham, London, England

●      Eau de Vie,
Sydney, Australia

●      Mayahuel, New
York City, New York

●      Sanctuaria,
St. Louis, Missouri


World’s Best Drinks Selection

●      Artesian at
The Langham, London, England

●      Cure, New
Orleans, Louisiana

●      Eau de Vie,
Sydney, Australia

●      Employees
Only, New York City, New York

The awards and nominations are affirmation of what Eau-de-Vie prides itself on. With an extensive and intricately designed cocktail list, and an all-star team (which is fronted by Luke Redington), Eau-de-Vie is thrilled to have been recognised with such gusto in its first year and a half of operation, since January 2010.

On top of this news, the team is excited to announce that Eau-de-Vie Melbourne is opening soon. Come October, Eau-de-Vie will be venturing south with a new venue opening under the supervision of industry heavyweight Greg Sanderson. Having been in behind the bar for over 12 years and coming from Melbourne establishment Black Pearl and prior to that Mur Mur, Sanderson will take over the new venue in Melbourne CBD.

Bar, Restaurant, Sydney

Barrio Chino

Off the back of his Outstanding achievement award at the 2010 Australian Bar Awards, an appearance alongside Martha Stewart and the success at The Dutch in NYC, Startender Naren Young is back in Sydney for ten days only.

Bedding down the beverage program at Barrio Chino, and tapping Tecates for a few friends, he has shrugged off the time difference and looks 100% at home.

Barrio Chino is a new Mexican paradise, tucked down Bayswater Rd.

The food was getting great raps from everyone who’s eaten there. The type of fresh Mexican flavours that are such a rarity here. Naren has spent these last many years involved in the setting up of what the Amercians like to call beverage programs. Essentially, what gets delivered is a restaurant and bar that exist side by side. The bar is good enough it could thrive on its own, so is the restaurant. Paired together, they are a potent force.

I will be back to try the food directly, but the bar is great on its own. A real showcase of agave and its many facets.

There are masterful touches everywhere.

On the back bar there are some rarites, curiousities and even a couple of legends.

The list offers a handful of choices. Jar shaken pitchers of Tommy’s, balance perfect, perhaps the shareable first round available in the country.

The breakfast margarita picks up all the sweet zesty goodness that marmalade has to offer, but with the addition of an earthy agave heart that will leave you wondering why you’ve made this drink when any other spirit. The options offer a range of texture and formats. Long, short, touched with seductive smoky hint of mezcal. All singing, all dancing, all agave.

I would challenge any person who doesn’t like tequila to not find a drink that becomes their favourite.

The bar also signature serves Tecate, complete with gingery salt encrusted limes. Squeeze the juice into your can and knock it back.

Get into it.

Barrio Chino

28-30 Bayswater Rd, Kings Cross

ph. 8021 9750

On Google maps here.

Advertising, Sydney

Something a little more Refined

At last, a little refined instruction is coming to the classes convict cesspool that is Sydney’s Eastern suburbs.

Hendricks Gin is bringing some of it quirky marketing experience to the general public. The brand is known for breaking step with the rest and happily expounding a nineteenth century weltanschauung for a twenty first century world, Sydneysiders will have a chance to experience both the brand ideal and some old worldy charm for the last three days at the end of this week.

Press release follows:


A new service offering etiquette tips to both singletons and couples looking to woo potential suitors and develop their relationships with a level of decorum that will make those Victorian-era principles proud. The Hendrick’s Refined Courtship Clinic is a public drop-in surgery, run by Dr Humphrey SixWivs and Mrs Isabella Forlornicate in Sydney’s vivacious Paddington.


Hendrick’s Clinicians will be offering 1-2-1 advice, free of charge, on all matters from polite body language to acceptable topics of conversation and procedures of courtship to reading signals from a lady’s fan movements. The clinic will also offer tips on a most unusual, yet wonderfully eccentric, way of the basics of chivalry for gentleman and advice on general appearance for ladies.



In a day when public displays of affection from one to another – wolf-whistles, forthright chat-up lines and robust embracing – are often perceived as vulgar or inappropriate, the Hendrick’s Refined Courtship Clinic will educate that the route to success is through good manners and etiquette when courting. It was author Og Mandino that once said: “I seek constantly to improve my manners and graces, for they are the sugar to which all are attracted.”



387 Oxford Street, Paddington, Sydney 2021.


Hendrick’s Refined Courtship Clinic. The surgery is a beacon of promise amongst the frightfully explicit protrusions of the area, in Sydney’s buzzing Paddington.



Public opening on the following dates –


Thursday, 23rd of June (2pm-8pm); Friday, 24th June (2pm-8pm); Saturday 23rd of June (12pm-8pm)



Sydney, The Cure

I have but one word for you Sir, “Batanga!”

Elizabeth Bay House has a fantastic basement that makes for a great launch venue, the African character that served as Ship’s Captain aiding Indiana Jones’ escape from Alexandria was called Katanga and Schweppes is producing a rather tasty darkened drop that tastes like a grown up drink.

Of these three things I did not possess as any reliable type of irrefutable knowledge as I walked along Onslow Ave to take up a shadowy invitation that had arrived in the post the week prior. Upon being met by a proper lady at the door of the former Governor’s residence, I was transported back in time and down a flight of stairs for the launch of a new product on the cocktailian fringe.

A number of Batanga! will loosen lips and possibly sinketh ships.

The party was great. Possibly the most fun launch I’ve attended this year. Read all about it over at the Gourmantic, who caught Simon McGoram and I in full flight.

The Elixir is kind of a big deal for the team at Schweppes. Their tonic is synonymous with Britain’s greatest cultural export, the Gin and Tonic. As such, they have a established relationship with the bartenders around this lucky country and the dark mixer is an unashamed attempt to invade the adjoining mixed drink territories that surround the white spirit and tonic stronghold they have fortified over the last two hundred and something years.

Despite the similarity in colour, this is not an attempt to produce a Schweppervescent take on the Coca-Cola beverage. Taste wise, it delivers four big flavours, in almost equal parts. Coffee, Caramel, Chocolate and Vanilla compete for space on the palate and do a fine job of nestling down beside the earthy tones of tequila, and liven up a treat on exposure to Tanqueray and a hit of rose.

You’ll only be able to experience this on-premise. That is, in a bar, and probably a rather refined one at that. Pair it with pretty much anything on the back bar. With the small personal supply I have been afforded, I can confirm Rums, Scotches, Bourbons and Ryes all yield pleasing, if varied results.

It seems like a product that will add a new indulgence to those amongst you who enjoy a spirit and mixer to dull the pains and lower your inhibitions. It also has a root beery-ness that soothes a savage stomach rather pleasantly.

The signature serve, for now at least, is a tequlia drink, it is fantastic. I should know, after drinking ten brace or a score at the Launch Event, I arrived home lauding its name.

The Batanga

45mls Jose Cuervo Reposado Tradicional, 15mls freshly squeezed lime juice, Schweppes Elixir

Build over ice in a glass that has been given a chili salt rim, top with Elixir. Cry “Batanga!” as the drink is served, in your best faux Victorian accent.

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….

Bar, Sydney

Gardel’s. Upstairs at Porteño

The secret of Sydney’s Argentinian altar of meats is already well known about town. Porteño has achieved this feat by roasting entire lambs over an open pit of coals, staffing its floor with characters from a fifties sock hop and generally delivering a slice of Buenos Aires magic to any and all lucky enough to grace its doors.

Less well known was the cocktail bar, replete with an elegant lounge, upstairs on the second floor. Bars that are a part of a restaurant often struggle to attain recognition and a personality of their own. The team at Porteño have decided to give their upstairs offering a separate identity, rebranding the space Gardel’s Bar, after Carlos Gardel, the Argentine tango legend.

Sometimes a split like this drives a wedge between the offerings, severing the link and allowing two very separate offerings to develop. The boys at Gardel’s do not seem in any danger of letting this happen. The number of bars in this town who make the most of having access to cooks and the kitchen seems few and far between. The Americans call this approach “The Beverage Program” and perhaps that’s something their Canadian talent behind the bar has bought with him from North America.

The smoker, used for kingfish and the some of the meat offering no doubt, has been put to great use smoking vermouth and maple syrup. Test out the result in the frankly wonderful Thank you for smoking. A good measure of spicy Buffalo Trace bourbon, coaxed gently with smoked vermouth and syrup, and a dash or two of the Bitter Truth’s Xocolatl Mole Bitters. I had goosebumps on finishing it and I can’t wait to go back, drop the maple syrup and maybe some of the achingly perfect balance to deliver a booze forward version I imagine will put the Man very much in a Manhattan. The Smoked Adonis also gives a taste of the teams smoky goodness, albiet in a more apertif style. The almond side garnish is a nice touch too.

The proximity to the kitchen delivers some of the best bar food available in the country. I dare you to stop at one chili dog.

For the first time in quite a while, there is a bit of competition in my heart and on my palate for what I would call my favourite bar in Sydney. I’ll be back again soon.

358 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010

(02) 8399 1440

On Google Maps here.

Cocktail, Sydney, Wine

Disaster Bay Chilli Wine

A new find at the Saturday morning markets in Kings Cross, a chilli grower from Disaster Bay, basically as far south in New South Wales as it is possible to get.

While they also produce a fantastic sauces, it was the chilli wine bottle that caught my eye and taste. Produced by the fermentation of bush ripened chillies, the wine has a sweet (they call it dessert wine), winey taste, with a great finish of mild heat. Kind of like a chili vermouth, minus some of the herbal middle.

I’ve been playing around with it and tequila. Kind of using it as vermouth for tequila. Early days yet, but it does produce some tasty results in my first experiments.

Two rabbits in a bag.

45mls Cazadores Reposado Tequila, 15mls Disaster Bay Chilli Wine, 2 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters.

Combine ingredients over ice and stir well. Strain up and garnish with a peel of lime.

Special prize for anyone who can link the name to the drink.

Cocktail, Sydney

Dr Phil blazes away

Dr Phil took out the first slot at the Diageo World Class Sangrita Rituals in Sydney last night. While I wait for the photos from the night themselves to write a full wrap up, you can enjoy the cocktail stylings of a man who really understands getting the most out of a spirit.

Awards, Competitions, Sydney

TimeOut Sydney Bar Awards – People’s Choice

The upcoming TimeOut Bar awards have (at least) one intriguing category, the People’s Choice. You, the public of Sydney (and others, due to the non implementation of IP geotracking) get to vote for the intoxicating supremo’s who ease the passage of week to weekend.

To make things easy for you, TimeOut have whittled the choices down to but a few:

  • The Corner House
  • Doctor Pong
  • Eau de Vie
  • The Flinders
  • Grasshopper
  • The Lincoln
  • Oxford Art Factory
  • Shady Pines Saloon
  • Sticky Bar
  • The Winery by Gazebo

Go here to cast your vote…

Awards, Competitions, Sydney

2010 Australian Bar Awards Results – Now with Photos

It all happened at the Hilton last night, with Bar week drawing closer to a close.

A broad representation of the industry filled the ballroom, to hear the results, to celebrate ten years of the awards and to have a decent crack at getting smashed, responsibly, of course.

Ian Burrell, Ambassador of Rum with Priscilla from Sou Soul in Melbourne

Ian Burrell, Ambassador of Rum with Priscilla from Sou Soul in Melbourne

Anyhoo, you’re probably reading this because you weren’t at the awards, or you were there but pushed the boat out a touch too far.

Best New Launched Product.

Miss Russia at the Bar Awards

Miss Russia at the Bar Awards

The first award of the night went to Russian Standard vodka. Beam Global administer the brand here in Australia, but they bought a little Russian charm to the event, in the guise of Miss Russia. The leggy model’s purr and smile quickly caught the attention of the room, and ever the entrepreneu, Dave Spanton capitalised , auctioning thirty minutes of her company off to charity. Perhaps the surprise of the evening was that Cafe Pacifico’s Phil Bayly was the man with his hand in the air. I hope she likes tequila.

Best Training Program

Went to the boys from Diageo’s Alchemy. Investment in training is ever increasing in the market here, with legends of bartending being flown around the globe to teach, train and tour the lucky country.

Brand Ambassador of the Year

The Mixxit team must have only missed out by a whisker of winning the best program prize. Dylan Howarth managed to scrape back some semblance of honour taking out the individual award.

Small Stand Award

Without question went to Bacardi, the Blind Tiger speakeasy, overseen by the debonair David Cordoba, international daiquiri ambassador. It was all about story, setting and sharing the love and passion that goes into making the world’s favourite white rum and the simple expression of sugar, sour & strong; perfectly diluted into a very special dream state.

Large Stand Award

Goes to Philip Morris. They wouldn’t let me in last year, and I didn’t try this, so they obviously aren’t in it for the PR.

Cocktail List

Brisbane bar, The Bowery, takes out this prestigious prize. I really sweet speech shows just how much the recognition means.

Best Food Offering

Team Laruche after claiming their prize

Team Laruche after claiming their prize

Laruche, again from up in Brisbane, takes out the prize. Might be time to book a flight and go and check out my Northern neighbor.

New Venue Design

Down scale speakeasy-cum-saloon, Shady Pines, takes home the bacon. Special shout outs to eBay and Bunnings for supplying the goods.

Best Drinks Selection

This can be found at the Crown & Sceptre in Adelaide. Might have to visit the festival state too.

Bar Manager of the Year

Sebastian Derbomez from Hemmesphere takes out this one. His speech is great, for the first two minutes. After that he starts to ramble about the lot of Bar Managers everywhere. Dave Spanton finally intervenes. Bravo.

Best Marketed Venue

Lee from the Victoria Room has some kind words to say about family run and owned venues. Vive la petite revolution! While he claims to have no knowledge of marketing, his plug for the Fluffy Duck Blazer would make any spruiker proud.

Best Nightclub

The lights go down for Kit & Kaboodle. Teamwork seems to have deserted them as they fumble the thankyous in the speech. No one knows this now, but they’ll have another chance after dinner.

Outstanding Contribution

Naren Young at the Sydney Bar Awards

"I owe it all to Tom Cruise" Naren Young has a few words on making an outstanding contribution

Naren Young deservedly honoured for his efforts behind the bar and in articulating the whole thing in words too. His speech is great, starting with an acknowledgement of the role of Tom Cruise in his career, and that inability to grow a beard is no impediment to making a contribution. His thanks at the end are heartfelt and more than a few eyes aren’t dry around the room.

Best Bar Team

Rollicking on to the stage with no shortage of gay abandon, the team from the Black Pearl in Melbourne proudly lift the trophy, and the new addition to the Hysted repertoire, the finger mustache. Curled, of course.

Best Specialty Beer Venue

Goes to the Local Taphouse, from Sydney. “Beer is the new black” a five word speech that says it all.

Best Wine Bar

Team Gazebo takes it out again, only t his time it’s the new venue in Crown St, The Winery, that will have an award upside down on the roof.

Rookie of the Year

Goes to the stunning and talented Elle Wormald, from Eau de Vie. Great to see a lady taking away one of the individual prizes. Hopefully a sign of great things to come.

Best Operator – Single Venue

Sebastian, Liz and Lisa from 1806 in Melbourne take out the prize.

Best Small Bar

Little laneway legend, Grasshopper, from Sydney takes this one out. Great to see the small bar legislation working well.

Cocktail Bar of the Year

Jason Crawley kicks things off with a great joke about whales. The winner is a whale of the industry, Der Raum, from the streets of Melbourne takes it out. Flavour fog ahoy!

Best Music Venue

X&Y from Brisbane take this one away. Can you hear the people sing?

Best New Bar

Eau de Vie gets an award! Great result for Sven and the team. Consumer recognition from Gourmet traveller and now the trade. This place is my favourite bar for a reason.

Hotel of the Year

The multi faceted Ivy proves you can in fact be all things to all people…

Multiple Venue Owner

Keystone Hospitality lift the trophy.

New Hotel of the Year

The Flinders Hotel gets an award! Most of the folks who aren’t already there are going now. Make mine a Red Hook!

Bar of the Year

Hugos Manly proves there is a reason to visit the insular peninsular.

Bartender of the Year

Bartenders get the girls - Jason Williams with his prize

Bartenders get the girls - Bartender of the Year, Jason Williams with his prize

Jason Williams from the Galley Room in Melbourne takes the top prize. Adam Brewer from Cloudland in Brisbane 3rd & Chris Denman from X&Y came 2nd.

Gratuitous Spanton Shot

Gratuitous Spanton Shot

It was a great night and showcased the strength and development of the bar industry in Australia. Well done to the Spanton team and all the winners.

Legends of Bartending, Sydney, Training

Trading Punches with the wonderful David Wondrich

What an experience yesterday. A little under three hours with the Civil War General of Cocktails, Mr David Wondrich.

Dave is a walking encyclopedia of all things intoxcating, having gained fame for his lively drinks column in the american version of Esquire magazine and his amazingly well researched Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar, the Mixxit team had flown him out to pass on a little knowledge and in his words, ‘to do the tourist shit.’

Twenty or so bartenders crammed into the back bar of the Argyle to learn a little and laugh a lot. Wondrich has just wrapped up writing a book that explores the history and development of the Punch, precursor to the cocktail and tasty shared beverage of the sporting classes in auld New York. As such it was apt that the session started with a short history and a long drink.

Punch starts as a sailors beverage. As voyages began to stretch between continents and over months and years, more than a few problems evolved. First of all was with Beer, traditionally used to sake the thirst of the general rabble on board, when kept in barrels it didn’t last much beyond a few weeks, developing all manner of horrendous moulds and fungi. The officers too, were not exempt, their expensive wines ruined in the heat of the tropics, reduced to vinegar, or worse.

Somewhat unsurprising then that all eyes turned to the few barrels of medicinal spirits, seemingly unencumbered by the problems of the lesser ferments, they often appeared to improve with the length of journey. Continue reading


Shine on with your crazy diamonds

Yesterday was close day for voting on the 2010 Australian Bar Awards. After whizzing through my votes, I made a quick visit to and was extremely pleased to see that Ueno Hidetsugu has been confirmed for Bar Show next month.

Some will know Ueno-san from the Magnificent Seven launch video or perhaps will have seen him hand carving ice into balls, or as he is now more famous for, diamonds.

He, along with an extremely small group of other Japanese masters have been responsible for launching a set of influences that is strong around the world of bar tending right now. Seamless mixing glasses, obscenely long bar spoons, hand carved ice, gold plated everything and perhaps best known, the mystical hard shake.

Having been to Tokyo and visited the standing bars, I have one overwhelming memory of hospitable perfection, a focus on detail, economy of movement and utterly focussed service. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say and what he might share.

Ueno-San will be presenting The Art of Japanese Bartending in the Mixology Theatre at 2:00pm – 2:40 pm on Wednesday 22 September (Day 2) of the Sydney BarShowexhibtion. Do not miss this amazing opportunity to get up close a personal with one of the world’s leading bartending personalities.

For further information and to purchase your 2 Day Seminar Pass

Bar, Sydney, Training

An Introduction to the Malts at Eau de Vie

Eau de Vie has been my favourite slice of Sydney’s drinking scene for more than a few months now and they still manage to surprise, impress and intoxicate me. So it was, with a bright smile and a deep sense of anticipation that I headed down the Darlinghurst Road once more and in to Eau de Vie for a appreciation of Single Malt Whisky, led by the charismatic frontman and booze afficiando, Barry Chalmers.

I’ll write about the six malts we sampled next, but I just wanted to share some of the finer points my diminutive Glaswegian orator shared in his thirty minute epistle on the finer points of supporting his homelands economic well being.

We started with a history of spirit. From our man in the middle east, the moorish expansion, the information superhighway that monastic tradition bestowed. Eventually the Exchequer Rolls, and a record of about 1500 bottles of aqua vitae or water of life, and conversely eau de vie, natch. 1500 is a reasonable run, so it had most likely started some time before that.

Barry has a superb and well spoken grasp of the role of whisky in overcoming the tyrannies of distance and harsh terrain. It’s role in building a transportable economy in Scotland. A short revision of history, covering the Act of Union, the facts running somewhat different to everyone’s favourite anti-Semitic Australian’s blue faced cinematic, shall we say, revision. Taxation, evasion and eventual systematic establishment and the distilleries as we know them today.

Production next, with grain, through three steps of the malting and mashing process on show. A quick beer distillation in a tiny onion top copper still, cooled through a worm tub sets up a quick but quite thorough discussion on the different types of still, the effect of shape, height and ornamentation has on finish and final product.

Finishing next, a freshly toasted stave handed round, scents of vanilla rampant. We all got lost in forests and finishing effects from charred out woods that had hosted American, French or Spanish. It was agreed by all that green wood that hasn’t had it’s share won’t work.

Appreciation then. A light sniff, as nose in glass will knock your blinking socks off. Try over the back, over the glass and just in front. I do remember it smelling different things, but I’m unsure if there’s method to the madness. A sip, coupled with a lovely quote delivered in an accent broad. “You have to figure out if the whisky is a winding path through the forests of your mouth or a great fooking dual carriageway.” Attributed to Dave Broom, but Barry will always own it in my eyes.

Through the six, with stories and myth around each. A great education and a fine way to spend an evening, finished with a slice of cheese and a final Penicillin at the bar.

If you’re keen to be involved in this type of nonsense, the best way to keep up to date and aware is to become a member of the Eau de Vie Facebook page as they’re pretty good at making sure the events are on there.  They’ve got 574 fans now, so make me look good and join in your thousands…

These events are paid for, but for your hard earned wedge, you’ll get a little bit of learning, a little bit of drunk and a little bit of snacking. $60 has been the norm thus far, but they’ll be up front about that.

There is also a winter drinks session, being led by Dr. Phil next wednesday, so come along and join in.

Bar, Sydney


When is a bar not a bar?

When it’s the lobby of a restaurant.

I took my lovely lady to Etch last night for an after work cocktail and a little bite on what I had heard was the best bar snacks in the city. Entering the hushed enclave I declared my interest in the bar and was told that the assorted, plush but somewhat lobbyish chairs were the bar. When you are sitting there it feels like they’ve cannibalized some of the restaurant floorspace to try and increase revenue as the number of premium covers in Sydney falls off.

On the Drinks front, I started with a Brandy Crusta, and Chelsey ordered a Floral Fizz, the working bar that services the restauran makes the drink, and this is unfortunately situated out of sight. When the drinks arrived they looked exquisite, but my crusta was missing the collar of lemon peel that Jerry decreed and whose oils improve the drink no end. The Floral fizz fared better, the hibiscus sweetness matching the Aussie sparkles it came with. Round two entailed a Dry Martini, for me and the Passion Fizz for her. The Passionfruit syrup clashed alarmingly and the pips looked good but would have been better strained out of the drink. The tide was out on my drink, but it was cold, floral from the Bombay. The peel lacked the finesse which is obviously a hallmark of the food as well.

If that was where it ended, I probably wouldn’t have managed to write about the place at all. The bar snacks are exquisite. The warmed ball of goats cheese flavoured with Lavender and Honey was unreal. Perfect balance, explosive flavour. Quite simply, WOW. The duck rillette were formed in little quinelles and accompanied by crunchy little toasts. As Matt the Cravat would say, a symphony of texture, taste and mouthfeel.

While I was at the Cocktail World Cup in New Zealand, all the Americans there were talking about beverage programs at restaurants. While I thought it was largely wank then, it kind of makes sense to me now. The beverage program is about making sure the attention to detail, balance of flavours and aesthetic of the food service continues at the bar.

Etch, with its unbelievably good snacks could be Sydney’s best premium bar. They just need to put the bar in the back room, have a bartender you can see turning out drinks that look as good as the mains out the front.

As it is, a great place for a quick, quiet but stylish drink before you head off to the Opera.

62 Bridge St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia. (02) 9247 4777

On Google maps, here.

Bar, Sydney


Made it back to Sticky for the first time since I started this blog. Tucked down Taggart’s Lane in a dingy doorway beside the goods fridge for the restaurant is the entrance to Sticky.

The closest thing we have to a Melbourne hospitality experience with kind words and cheeky wit at the door, even if the popularity of the upstairs space means a short wait in the cold. Ascend the stairs, breathing in the smells from Table for 20, a sharing plate concepted, long table execution of a best of what’s on offer model.

Ascend another set and you’ll hit to the laid back attic, decked out with antiques and little padded stools. The bar has obviously been designed by a bartender. Plenty of space behind it, and it’s needed when the place fills up. The beer selection is limited, but nicely done, Birra Messina a real standout.

The back bar is adorned by many nectarous bottles. Aged Grappa and Sazerac Ryes are obviously firm favourites of the boys behind the wood. A couple of special cocktails are chalked up, a twenty something bottle winelist as well.

I stuck to the beers and more than a couple of Negroni’s with the gin changed out for a blanco tequila. Nicely turned out. The pricey but oh so luxurious highlight for me was a Sazerac, whipped up with Thomas Handy’s Sazerac Rye.

Worth the trip, especially if you haven’t yet visited Melbourne and seen what real hospitality looks like. Don’t worry too if you get stuck upstairs drinking, the tasting plates are, well, tasty.

182 Campbell St, Surry Hills, Sydney. 0416 096 916.

On Google Maps, here.

Bar, Sydney

The Flinders Hotel

Step over the pile of fixed gear bikes and past the bearded über swede in the crochet poncho, brush the past shoulder length hair out of your way, push in beside the tall, skinny cat, in tight jeans and a fur stole at a darkly lacquered bar covered in graffiti, some inspired, a lot not. You have arrived at the Flinders Hotel, now under new management.

While things do look as though a hipster bomb has gone off, don’t be put off if you’ve opted out of following the global fashion lead of trust fund babies channeling Kerouac in Williamsburg, beyond the shadow of Manhattan and her towers of finance. The Flinders delivers in wonderful, daggy charm.

Everything comes in a rocks glass or bamboo, but don’t let this apparent lack of polish fool you. The Laird’s Applejack Sour, a rarity on Sydney streets & the Nuclear Daiquiri were polished and supreme. The herby hint of my favourite green liqueur, Chartreuse, making this my fast favourite drink in the limits of this city.

A pleasant surprise on the other side of the bar, with the ladies outnumbering the men, perhaps the rarest experience in the Australian bar scene, especially at the pointy end where good drinks matter.

Arrive early if you want to carve your name for poserity or posterity. Arrive later if you’re looking for a achingly cool crowd and some of the coolest tunes I’ve run into this year. A 5 am closing means coming much later, when there simply are no other options is also on the cards.

I’ve heard talk of a boutique hotel and restaurant to open upstairs too.

63 Flinders St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia (02) 9356 3622

On Google Maps here.

Bar, Sydney


Watching Underbelly, you’d be forgiven for walking through the Cross, eyes wide with intrigue at the hookers and smack addicts, placing hefty back story’s on the characters that fill the streets and wondering which of the younger doormen is thinking about making a move and becoming the next King of the Cross. The media seems to want this myth of the Cross to be perpetuated, with stories talking about the back alley underhand dealings that go on.

Don’t be seduced too much by this story though, you’ll miss an importnat change that’s going on. The cross is moving up market, gentrifying if you will. LL, just down Llankelly Place, is a little gem that represents the forefront of this coming small bar revolution.

Tucked down an alley that very recently was not the safest route to walk home at night, at an address famous for peddling smut and illegal gambling, LL is setting the bar for new entrants, bringing a little of Dragon-i in Hong Kong south for the winter. The docr inside features a couple of little gems from the past, and I’ve heard rumours of a slightly more crazy room out the back as well.

The cocktail list nods to a Bacardi deal, with Bombay & 42 featuring heavily. The Dragon Eye, made birds eye chili infused 42 is an on the rocks standout. Probably not a bar for a night long romp through the classics, but the Negroni was turned out well.

The food is worth more than one visit, the soft shell crab a must. Dumplings, Beef Fillet and the Fried Tofu were also great.

I’m stoked that this change has come to the hood. LL is a comfortable, friendly joint where you can chat to the owners while you’re waiting for your companions to arrive. Top marks for providing a relaxed and fun service too.

Llankelly Pl, Potts Point NSW 2011
(02) 9356 8393

On Google Maps here.

Cocktail, Event, Melbourne, Sydney

World Cocktail Week.

On the 13th of May, 1806, the word cocktail was first defined in print. The paper that printed the word was called The Balance, and Columbia Repository. It was volume V if you’re interested. The truly passionate amongst you might even want to jump on Google books and read the original here. The word appears on both page 142 and 146.

This little word has employed a lot of people, and intoxicated even more. It is in that spirit that people gather for a weeks worth of festivities around this most important day in the mixocoligcal calendar to mix, pour, shake, learn and most importantly imbibe!

It is a happy event for Australia this year, with more than a few bars getting in on the action. Here’s what I’m aware of thus far, I’m happy for people to add stuff in the comments if there are one’s I’ve missed.

I’ll be at Eau de Vie on Thursday for sure.

Monday May 10th

Eau de Vie – Classic Vintage

Eau-de-Vie opens the spirit cabinets, offering great classics made with rare and hard-to-find spirits from the house collection.

7pm-9pm, $80pp (Includes food & 4 Cocktails)

On facebook, or call Barry on 9357 2470

Tuesday May 11th

Eau de Vie -5 Cocktails Every Man Should Know

6pm-8pm, $ 75pp (includes food & 5 cocktails)

Hosted by The Dr & Sven Almenning

Eau de Vie, Private Whisky Room.

On facebook, or call Barry on 9357 2470

The Den – Vintage Cocktail Night

Merivale head mixologist Mikey Enright and Mixxit mixologist Jason Crawley, will host four veteran bartenders, Ben Davidson, Dylan Howarth, Simon McGoram and Marco Farone to mix vintage cocktails in The Den.

$70pp includes cocktails and canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Hemmesphere – Tequila Masterclass

Brown Forman’s brand ambassador Shae Silvesto and Hemmesphere’s very own hombre, Sebastian Derbomez, take guests through the history of Tequila before hosting Tequila tastings and demonstrating three Tequila cocktails, including the classic Margarita. Ole!  

$65pp includes 3 cocktails & canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

The Den – Vintage Cocktail Night

Merivale head mixologist Mikey Enright and Mixxit mixologist Jason Crawley, will host four veteran bartenders, Ben Davidson, Dylan Howarth, Simon McGoram and Marco Farone to mix vintage cocktails in The Den.

$70pp includes cocktails and canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Wednesday May 12th

Eau de Vie – Cocktail Degustation Evening

Enjoy 4 sublime cocktail and food pairings

7pm-9pm $ 85pp (includes food & 4 cocktails)

Hosted by Elle Wormald & Maximillian Greco

On facebook, or call Barry on 9357 2470

Hemmesphere – Gin Masterclass

Learn more about those obscure juniper berries when gin specialist Ben Davidson and Gin Garden mixologist Paul Mott discuss the history of gin, host top-shelf gin tastings and show guests how to shake up three classic gin cocktails.  

$65pp includes 3 cocktails & canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Sand Bar & Slip Inn – Bourbon Masterclass

Take a trip through the Kentucky cornfields as  Beam Global’s bourbon specialist, Jarred Plummer, talks about the USA’s most famous spirit and its history. He’ll also demonstrate how to make the most of bourbon, sharing some of his favourite bourbon cocktail recipes.

$65pp includes 3 cocktails & canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Tiki Cocktail class

Learn to master tropical cocktails served in pineapples or coconuts as Nick Van ‘Tiki’ Tiel – a seasoned Tiki specialist and Reserve’s brand ambassador – and Mikey Enright talk through the history Polynesian pop culture and demonstrate how to make the perfect Pina Colada, Mai Tai and Zombie.  Each student will have the opportunity to make a Tiki classic cocktail and the winning cocktail will take home a Tiki Drink set.

$70 includes 3 cocktails including and canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Thursday May 13th

Eau de Vie – Martini Masterclass

A look at the development of this enigmatic drink, the styles, history & how it is made today.

7pm-9pm $ 75pp (Includes food & 5 martinis)

Hosted by Barry Chalmers & Nick Fury

Eau de Vie, Private Whisky Room.

On facebook, or call Barry on 9357 2470

Ivy – The Magnificent 7 – ‘The final shootout’ – World Cocktail Day

One of Australia’s leading bar-training-programs, Mixxit, is gearing up for the final leg of a competition that has attracted some of the country’s finest bartenders. The winner of the Magnificent 7 competition will fly to New York and attend the world famous five-day BAR (Beverage Alcohol Resource).   Guests are invited to come down and cheer on their state finalist and see some of the best Australian cocktail makers battling it out on the main stage at ivy. The seven finalists: Anita Strother,Byblos, Brisbane; Edward Murphy, Baden Powell, Melbourne; Erica Richards, Crown & Sceptre, Adelaide; Richie Brenton, Charlie’s Bar, Melbourne; Nick Edwards, The Lark, Brisbane; Christian Blair, Crown & Sceptre, Adelaide; Luke Reddington, Hugos Bar Pizza, Sydney.

6.30pm, Thursday 13 May at ivy, level 1, 320 George Street, Sydney

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Ivy – Vodka Masterclass

Oliver Stuart, Russian Standard Vodka’s brand ambassador and Bartendermagazine’s Bartender of the Year in 2006, will talk through the subtleties of his favourite spirit and share three fantastic vodka cocktail recipes.

$65pp includes 3 cocktails & canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Friday May 14th

Ivy Pool Club – Luxury Vodka Masterclass

Moet-Hennessey’s Garth Foster and Jimmy Sakajani from ivy’s Pool Club show guests how to make the most of luxury vodka with three favourite vodka cocktail recipes. They’ll also host a tasting of different luxury vodkas.  

$70pp includes 3 cocktails & canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

Saturday May 15th

Lotus – Rum Masterclass

Pernod Ricard’s cocktail guru and brand ambassador, Ben Davidson, and Lotus’ award-winning mixologist Petr Dvoracek will conduct rum tastings before guiding guests through the art of making the perfect pina colada, daiquiri and a surprise rum cocktail.

$65pp includes 3 cocktails & canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000

The Den – Whisky Masterclass

Pernod Ricard’s cocktail guru and brand ambassador, Ben Davidson and The Den’s resident mixologist Nico Darras show you how to make magic with a splash of whisky. They will demonstrate three classic whisky cocktails, including the Rob Roy and Bobby Burns.  

$65pp includes 3 cocktails & canapés

visit or call 02 9240 3000


For four weeks in the month of May, 1806 in Melbourne will showcase the evolution of this remarkable cocktail from the earliest mentions, to the most modern molecular interpretation.

Just to give you an idea of how much of a following these events get around the globe, here’s a video from the Museum of the American Cocktail, who have really been the driving force behind the event and its slow global rollout.

World Cocktail Week ™ NYC from Lush Life on Vimeo.

Bar, Sydney


Goldfish was a bar I always used to walk past, but never went in. Positioned at the intersection of Victoria, Bayswater and Darlinghurst Rd, the Goldfish was always on the way, but never my destination. After meeting Noriel at Cocktail World Cup, I decided it was time to give it a go.

A large island bar dominates the room, but you can break with tradition and pull up a barstool without too many raised eyebrows. 6pm on a Friday is obviously not the boom time for this bar, but a steady stream of people came through the doors, ordering beers, wines and the occasional Mai Tai. A smart cage keeps the smokers in the bar, while keeping the Cross out.

I tried the Tuxedo and a cocktail whipped me up featuring Chivas 18 to match the cherries, which are worth a visit on their own. A Diffordesque secret recipe made them taste even better.

The 49% off between 6-8 everyday bar Saturday would be a smart destination for any punter. Also with the loss of the Bayswater, Goldfish might be the best drink in the Cross proper, sadly.

I should have tried here earlier and I’ll definitely be back.

111 Darlinghurst Rd, Potts Point NSW 2011‎ – (02) 8354 6666‎

On Google Maps here.

Cocktail, Competitions, Sydney

The Whale

Pierre Fajloun is old beyond his years. The 24 year old isn’t showing premature signs of aging, his boyish smile and complexion are very much a product of his youth.

Where his age becomes apparent is in the way he mixes drinks. I went and visited him to try the cocktail that won him the Australian leg of  the Ketel One section of Diageo’s World Class series.

While I was in New Zealand at Cocktail World Cup, Vernon Chalker of the Gin Palace gave a talk about the martini. His rules were Two ingredients, three at the most, with a garnish that adds to the drink. This, then, is very much a martini.

The Whale is named for the large windmill that sits atop the Ketel One Distillery in Holland, and Pierre’s choice of glassware echoes its size perfectly. I didn’t ask Pierre for the measures, but hopefully my memory serves me well enough and you can have a crack at this at home.

The Whale.

50mls Ketel One, 10mls Lillet Blanc, 1 dash Fee Brothers Grapefruit Bitters. Stir over ice and pour into a licorice rimmed glass.

The licorice rim is made by combining fresh ground Fennel and Star Anise with Demerara Sugar. Pierre used lime juice to increase the adhesion on the rim.

Pierre has matched the aniseed note in the drink to make an intoxicating vodka martini. The two ingredients with the aromatising bitters are teased further by the garnish and the crunch of sweet demerara sugar as you lick your numbed lips clean is truly delightful. If all vodka martinis tasted like this one, I’d see the point in drinking them.

Definitely a drink worth tracking down…

The full press release is after the jump.

Continue reading