The MacNicol

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

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

I digress.

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

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

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

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

The MacNicol

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

Stir it down and strain into a cocktail glass,

Give it some orange zest love and discard the zest.

Drink it up.

Cocktail, Competitions, 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….