One of the things I’ve found to more true than anything else as I’ve moved through bars, sampling drinks and talking to bartenders, is that a list of twisted classics usually should be avoided.
Classics became just that because of the fine memorable taste the mix delivered. Take inspiration from the recipes sure, but you can’t improve on perfection.
Or can you?
On the mini crawl Jason Chan took me on after dinner at his, Sousoul was one place he’d mentioned a couple of times. The cocktails and their quality came up again as we crossed Chapel street and ducked down Greville St, beside the clocktower. As he popped his head into the new outpost of Ladro Pizzeria, next door to Sousoul, I’ll admit I was thinking “I’ve been drinking stuff you can’t buy anywhere, how is any cocktail meant to follow that?
Making it the door we were met by Nathan, our consummate host, Jason recommended and ordered the Chocolate Sazerac (below). The smoked cocoa is a triumph in this drink, I’m not sure if it has the fabled ‘wrongness’ of the rye and anise match in the original, but I’m sure Matt Preston would pull out his new favourite phrase “it’s yum yuck, a triumph” before hurling the glass at the back wall.
Well done Sousoul, one from one thus far.
My eyes didn’t get much further down the list before my eyes rested on the Aviation in 2010 (below).
Fuck with the classics, be my guest, but the Aviation is my personal favourite, opening a good gin up with citrus and the funky sweet lick that maraschino brings. Frankly I don’t care if they used to drink it with Creme de Violette. Most of the new liqueur approximations of this floral throwback stamp out any of the subtlety of the simpler ‘modern’ version (although none of my books have a violet version, isn’t that the Blue Moon?) Sousoul have updated the cocktail but my three ingredients are the ones in the glass.
That’s a tremendous tick in my book.
The boys behind the bar have captured an essence here. The Creme Yvette’s that are coming in the second wave of production are greatly improved. Adding it to the liquid in the glass might be dicey, so what’s the other option?
At Sousoul, the other option means spherification of the liqueur in a tidy little caviar spoon on the side. After the astringent brilliance of a perfect Aviation in the glass, these purple pearls wash your mouth with sweet floral goodness, ready for the next rinse.
I loved it. It is exactly what it set out to be: the very best Aviation you could put up.
I’m thinking of driving down again this weekend, just so I can have it again. If you are in Melbourne and only are going to have one drink, this, in my opinion, should be it.
I stand by what I said. Don’t fuck with the classics, unless you can do as well as this.
160 Greville Street, Prahran, VIC, Australia, 3181 (03) 9529 5670
On Google Maps here.