Be Your Own Bartender
We don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’re currently living in the second Golden Age of Cocktails. While the first of these, which straddled the turn of the 20th century, codified and refined the forms of the world’s best cocktails, these days the renaissance of cool bar produce rests in the hands of some very exacting purists. They’re bringing back the classics, respecting tradition and pushing the envelope on flavour and form by adhering to some basic standards.
In Australia, these wunderkind of the distilled and the mixed set the products of their labours before you in some of the best restaurants and drinking establishments. Below, we’ll profile several of the best and introduce you to their recipes for classic cocktails. Bring the Gilded Age into your own home and impress your guests with a perfectly crafted cocktail that makes up what it lacks in flash with quality and subtle flavours. Remember, drink responsibly.
Jessica Arnott: The Roosevelt, Sydney
Favourite Drink: Negroni
Blending the slight but light bitterness of Campari with Martin Miller’s western dry gin, Jessica brings to life a classic cocktail that both can and should be a staple in anyone’s repertoire. The Negroni is light, slightly bitter and aromatic, with an ethereal herbal citrus nose. It’s excellent as both an appetite stimulant and a finishing cocktail at either lunch or dinner. Plus, it’s simple enough that, when not overthought, anyone can make with ease.
To make it:
Build it in a glass over ice, no shaking or stirring.
25 ml Campari
25 ml sweet vermouth
25 ml Martin Miller’s dry gin
Garnish with an orange slice
Michael Madrusan: The Everleigh, Melbourne
Favourite Drink: The Toronto
Using a combo of two distinctive liquors, Madrusan mellows them into a distinctive blend, a cocktail that will make an impression without overpowering the palate. Rittenhouse Rye offers a clean, grassy bite at 100 proof, which is favoured by experienced whisky drinkers. Paired with the bitter, heady tones of Fernet-Branca, the Toronto provides both a perfect aperitif and a wonderful finishing drink for a rich menu.
To make it:
60 ml Rittenhouse Rye
22 ml Fernet-Branca
5 ml simple syrup (2:1 sugar to water)
Serve with an orange twist
Stir briefly over ice and strain into a coupe glass, garnishing with the twist.
Evelyn Liong: Whisky and Alement, Melbourne
Favourite Drink: The Old Fashioned
A cocktail that everyone should know how to make, the Old Fashioned brings together the smooth malted tones of excellent single-malt scotch with the fruit notes from citrus or cherry. Evelyn feels that each house should have on hand a bottle of good scotch, and prefers the uncompromising finesse and ultimate peatiness of Ardbeg Uigeadail.
To make it:
60 ml Ardbeg Uigeadail
1 cube of sugar
Enough Angostura bitters to just saturate the sugar cube
Maraschino cherry or orange twist to finish.
First, put the sugar in an Old Fashioned glass, soak it with your bitters, and add the whisky. Then, stir it until the sugar completely dissolves. You may serve it on the rocks or neat. Garnish the glass with a sweet cherry or a curl of orange zest.
Tim Phillips: Bulletin Place, Sydney
Favourite Drink: Army and Navy
Never underestimate the simple cocktail, crafted with high-quality and easy to obtain liquors. Tim prefers his gin rich with the sharp essence of juniper, which makes him a fan of the ubiquitous-but-delicious Tanqueray. It should be a staple in every home bar, he insists. So, it makes excellent sense that his preferred drink is one that bases beauty on balance and simple construction. There’s no fuss, but a great deal to admire about this cocktail, which pairs Tanqueray with Orgeat syrup. The almond and fragrant orange blossom essences of this richly sweet non-alcoholic syrup render it a beautiful staple for kitchens, bars, and coffee houses.
To make it:
20 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
15 ml Orgeat syrup
50 ml Tanqueray
Garnish with a curl of lemon zest
Incorporate all liquids and ice in a cocktail shaker and vigorously shake to combine. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the lemon curl to truly wow your guests.
Each of the cocktails are simple to construct, but delicious. They’re also wonderful ways to entertain in your own home, if you enjoy the occasional dinner party. You’ll impress your guests and provide a conversation piece for the dinner table.