Industry News, Spirit

Stolen Rum – soon to be available everywhere

Two weeks late to the party on this one, but the lads at Stolen Rum have signed a deal with Beam Global to get their award winning products around the world country (sorry, jumped the gun, the deal is only for NZ for now…).

Australians should be keeping an eye out in Melbourne this week for the boys from Stolen, they’ll be visiting the bars and getting to know some folk as they look to get things started with NZ’s closest cousins.

Nice work boys, great to see quality booze brands coming out of the South Pacific.

Bar, Melbourne, The Cure

On Tour: Batch

Chur cuz. Sick of the fucking bouncing kangaroos? Worried about that thing with the beady eyes you always thought was a bear but apparently is called mar-soo-pee-ill? Simply looking for a place where you can consistently find a decent cup of coffee, free from the hands of the pervasive criminal element?

Rejoice reader, this paradise exists and you can find it hiding at 320 Carlisle Street, Balaclava in Melbourne’s wonderful southern suburbs.

This place might be a cafe, but the fact you also get a measure of El Dorado 25yr old rum means that this little cafe has a back bar that many cocktail establishments around the world would envy. Breakfast and booze in one tidy package, Cure and Cause in four tight walls.

Started some time ago by another ex-Kiwi like me, Batch brings the cosy feel of Dunedin or Kingsland to Sydney’s southern sister. Jason Chan, owner, master barista and rare spirits aficionado can be found strapped into the coffee machine delivering perfect espresso, time, after time, after time.

Simply a must visit in Melbourne.

Shop 1, 320 Carlisle Street, Balaclava (03) 9530 3550

On Google maps, here.

Oh, this will probably help too:

Bar, Melbourne

On Tour: Der Raum

Step 1. Hail a taxi and direct him to the corner of Swan and Church St in Richmond♣.

Step 2. Pay the boatman, step the curb and approach the blackened door.

Step 3. Smile at the bartender♥.

Step 4. Take a spin through the menu♦

Step 5. Accept a welcome drink, casually diguised as an amuse bouche.

Step 6. While you finish your drink, select another and order‡

Step 7. Repeat step six, as many times as you can whilst remaining upright.

♣ Be aware that if there is a game on at the Gee, the crawl down Church St will be interminable. If this is the case, best sneak a roady in your pocket. ♥ Do not call him a mixologist. ♦ Don’t try to walk off with it, it has been attached to the bar. ‡ The drinks here, while lovely, can take some time to produce. Best keep one in the chamber at all times.

Well, you’ve waded through my short, but David Foster Wallacesque introduction to Der Raum. I suppose I now owe you an explanation.

Der Raum is a temple to process. Come forth, ye unwashed masses and worship at the altar of method.

Fine, innovative drinks, using techniques that wouldn’t seem out of place on Lost in Space or The Jetsons. The bottle above is a vermouth welcome drink, infused with floraln tastes and smoking with the addition of dry ice, ostensibly used to open the flavours up. While it’s not likely to make it onto my regualr roster of drinks at home, it was a pleasant welcome.

The Blue Moon, below, is a champagne salute to the ‘real’ Aviation. The violet flavor fog carried more taste than I had expected and the visual effect was indeed stunning. The Penicillin, served on an enopurmos sphere of ice and finished with a spray of Laphroaig, amazing. The Smokey Old Bastard, finished with cigar smoke delivered by a machine that wouldn’t have been out of place in a coffee shop on the Keizersgracht, should the Penicillin not deliver enough smoke. The Pharmacy, which i wrote about before, for the show more than anything. All the drinks on the list are incredible.

Der Raum consistently does well in awards and best bar in the world listings. The forest of suspended bottles over the bar is a joy to look at, with hidden treasures, like Tapatio Tequila that don’t come out very often at all, at least in this country. A fantastic bar, just heed my advice on ordering your next when you receive your first.
438 Church St, Richmond VIC 3121, Australia‎ – (03) 9428 0055

On Google Maps here.

Bar, Melbourne

On Tour: The Supper Club

In briefest terms, the place where you end up.

Somehow though, this place deserves a little more. A place for florid language, festooned with the detritus of a great Melbourne night. The penultimate step of an evenings libations♣. A standard to be set for the rest of the world.

Commit to a stroll onward and upward, and perched upstairs on Spring St, The Supper Club will enfold you in its ample bosom, provided, of course, everyone else hasn’t made it here before you.

While I’m sure you could order a cocktail here, if you’ve done things right through the rest of the town a simple Scotch, a glass or bottle of wine and a late night munch. Whereas in Kings Cross you might be seduced by the red-haired punchinello and his premium Angus, the Supper will entertain your with gastronomical delights to slake even the most cavernous of inebriated ravenousness. The eel and jamon croquettes, follwed by the polenta fries and perhaps the pate with those tiny little toasts please.

Smoking, now banned in all public indoor places in Australia, finds a spectactular home on the upstairs terrace, past a reassuringly large humidor.

My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them.

Winston Churchill.

1st/161 Spring St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia‎ – (03) 9654 6300‎

On Google maps here.

♣ Home, either yours or someone else’s being the ultimate. Hopefully at least.

Cocktail, Melbourne

The Pharmacy

So this was it, a drink that I had come to try. Laid out on a surgical steel tray, the Aperol syringe, the iced pill bottle filled with pear and capsicum infused Gin and a single white capsule, lying in wait. The famous Pharmacy cocktail at Melbourne’s Der Raum.

Around the world there are a precious few classic bars that are defined by a single drink. The Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel and their Singapore Sling, The Cuban Home of the Floradita Daiquiris, The Caribe Hilton and their Pina Colada. A great drink can represent a comfy bed of laurels.

Singapore’s national drink is now premixed and shipped in from Malaysia, a Cuban reality struggles to live up to words penned by a genius of imagination, Ramon Marerro’s strained pineapple sloshes in machinery better suited to the Kwik-E-Mart than a fond memory of a forgotten era.

There exists not only the bad, The Martini Bar in Barcelona serves a very pleasant Martini and I’ve seen too many brown sludge toting fools gush about the perfection of Harry’s white Bellini for me to doubt there are those precious few that try so hard to get it right, and succeed.

Which side does the Der Raum signature come down on? The latter mostly, I can happily report.

I applaud the concept, beautifully rendered in front on me.  The infusion of the Gin is delicious, the involvement one gets in the assembly phase is fantastic and the way the Aperol compliments the infusion is, well, delightful. It is difficult to not have a smile creep onto your face while you sip it on down.

The gelatin encased pill take a bit of waiting for, and after the ice had melted enough to relinquish its grip I have to admit, if I was looking for a weak link the pill is it. The astringent finish, I get, but the flavour you are left with didin’t have any of the subtlety the rest of the drink offered.

Still, all in all, my expectations were probably unattainably high, and they were exceeded. I’ll write a more general note on my impression of the rest of the Der Raum experience in the next couple of days…

Bar, Melbourne

On Tour: 1806

World Cocktail Day has slipped down our collective throats once more, It would be easy to grow despondent at the thought of waiting another annual cycle to celebrate the birth and evolution of finely mixed drinks.

Luckily however, hope as they say, springs eternal. At least on Exhibition St that is, where Sebastian Raeburn has built a stage for the art of mixing drinks, a temple whose rites eek out the fullest balanced flavours and where an uplifted spirit will just as soon be drunk. Named for the year in which the word cocktail was defined in print, 1806 is a must visit destination for anyone who like a great drink.

Step inside the doorway and you’ll be escorted through to the first available seat in the two-leveled theater of drinks. The bar and it’s tenders are very much the feature of the venue, with a backbar rising so high into the stratosphere it must tickle the very nose of God. Appropriate then that the uppermost reaches hold the works of Carthusian Monks, in greater variety than me eyes have laid on before. I’m not so sure the festoon of empty bubbles will have the same effect.

We ordered the Southside and a Clover Club. Both came, well made and silky in their deliciousness. I would have liked to stay and sampled more, but Pumpkin time was upon us and the Hotel bed beckoned. I’ll be back, if only to try the custard.

169 Exhibition Street, Melbourne 3000‎ -(03) 9663 7722‎

On Google Maps, here.

Bar, Melbourne

On Tour: Berlin

One of my perennial favourite things to do in Melbourne is a visit to the dumpling filled streets (just for the record, there are no dumplings in the streets, this is a figure of speech) of Chinatown. It might be the time I spent in Shanghai, It might be the opportunity to order food in Mandarin, it might be my undying love for Hui Guo Rou, I always find time to visit.

Some time ago I twisted and turned down Croft Alley to the Institute, probably my first ever small bar visit in the fabled Australian 03. I was excited to hear that a new addition to the scene could be found down another of the dead ends on that block, up a set of stairs and behind a locked door. On paper, Berlin is my kind of place.

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Bar, Melbourne

On Tour: The Black Pearl

Last week I jumped a plane to Melbourne for a weekend of shopping, eating and drinking. You know, the things Sydney’s southern sister does so well. Top of my list was a trip to the charmingly disheveled suburb of Fitzroy and Australia’s award winningly best bar, The Black Pearl, to catch up with Australia’s award winningly best bartender, Chris Hysted and the other members of Australia’s award winningly best bar team.

Sometimes when a place wins a slew of awards, things start to fall apart. The foot comes of the accelerator and the drive that propelled them to such giddy heights falls away leaving a sad, lame duck. Painfully mixed metaphors aside, this is most certainly not the case with the Pearl. Perhaps because there has seemingly never been a foot on the accelerator, but more likely that the bar is stocked with fine spirits, both in the bottles on the back bar and inside all the staff, the Pearl delivers a level of comfort that’s hard to come by and pretty much impossible to fake.

This then, is place to feel at home.

The bar itself is a tardis of soft seats and couches, but if you’ve come as a one or a two, take a seat at the bar, hang your coat and bag on the hooks under the counter. The bar team are all tremendous fun, the patrons a close second and if there is a tiny moment you’re not fully engaged, the cycling CCTV screen can prove to be entertaining.

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