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THE NEGRONI Twists on a Classic



The fun, the flair and the nitty gritty that makes a successful rum venue

G N I N ! R 5 1 U R E T O R 20 F Boutique Drinks Festival






Contact Shane T Williams Email: Phone: (02) 8586 6205





Top Shelf 2014 was an unrivalled success!

Over 4,000 affluent consumer and engaged trade professionals attended, sampling from hundreds of premium products, meeting producers and enjoying more than 40 free educational seminars and demonstrations. INCREASE YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF BEER AND WINE

Here’s what some of the visitors said:

“Well organised and staffed throughout, this is a stand-out event in Australia. Great show.” Nick Bond, Leederville “One of the top two food and drink exhibitions I’ve ever been to. Great variety and value. Looking forward to the next one.” Melinda Smith, Collingwood


“The thing that made it remarkable was the quality of product on offer, the interactions with the exhibitors and the amount of handson educational opportunities.” Stuart Mont, Albert North




Top Shelf 2015 is going to be bigger and better still!

There’ll be more exhibition space, plenty of new features and a new Saturday/Sunday format. Make sure you’re part of Australia’s premier drinks festival!



ttention to detail: it’s the theme that increasingly emerges when the great and good of the industry talk about what sets a great bar apart from the rest. No matter how hip and cutting-edge your offering, customers are earned – and kept – by focusing on the little things in every aspect of your business; from personalised service and staff knowledge to good quality ice. The importance of decent ice crops up more than once in this issue of bars&clubs. Indeed, we’d argue that the growing status of ice is indicative of where the industry is going as a whole. Previously ice was too often seen as a commodity, something to be merely churned out by a machine and slapped into a glass or shaker. True, a decade ago, the occasional toff bar in London or New York offered Evian cubes at an added price premium – but these places were very much the exception to the norm. These days, on the other hand, ice is more readily available in all shapes and sizes, and in all levels of purity; and more and more bars are taking advantage of that. As barsolutions managing director Grant Collins (profile on page 24) suggests, this trend is partly a response to increasingly sophisticated consumers. Collins’ new venue The Powder Keg stocks three different types of ice for drinkers to choose from, a factor that he relates directly to consumer-driven demand in the marketplace. Ice is fast becoming a point of reference for drinkers and a matter of differentiation for bars – two freshly opened venues, Tokyo Bird in Sydney and G&Tea in Melbourne (see page 11), are sporting charcoalfiltered and chamomile ice respectively. The bars and clubs industry is one that is highly competitive. Increasingly educated drinkers expect staff to be able to explain not only what is in a drink but what the exact provenances of the ingredients are. All the small details are now more important than ever. Ice may just be one of many little touches that add up to the whole image that your venue projects, but it may be the one that tips the balance and turns a one-off customer into a dedicated regular who will sing your praises to everyone they meet.

On that note, some details about the new issue. As always it is packed with the regulars – what’s open, who’s won what, and more – as well as plenty of practical features. We tackle the Negroni and see how bars are putting a twist on the classic cocktail (page 15); the science of creating a rum bar experience is examined through the lens of the very successful Lobo Plantation (page 28); and read up on everything you need to know about the US breweries that are making waves on the craft beer scene (page 37). Cheers,

Stefanie Collins Editor

MANAGING DIRECTOR Simon Grover PUBLISHER Paul Wootton pwootton@intermedia. EDITOR Stefanie Collins EDITOR-AT-LARGE James Wilkinson jwilkinson@intermedia. CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Jason Lyon, Fred Siggins, Meghan Coles, Tim Grey NATIONAL SALES MANAGER Thomas Rielly


NATIONAL SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Shane T Williams stwilliams@intermedia.

THE NEGRONI Twists on a Classic







The fun, the flair and the nitty gritty that makes a successful rum venue

“A decade ago, the occasional toff bar in London or New York offered Evian ice cubes at an added price premium”

PUBLISHED BY The Intermedia Group Pty Ltd ABN 940 025 83 682 41 Bridge Road, GLEBE, NSW Australia, 2037 Telephone: 02 9660 2113 Fax: 02 9660 1883


DISCLAIMER This publication is published by The Intermedia Group Pty Ltd (the "Publisher"). Materials in this publication have been created by a variety of different entities and, to the extent permitted by law, the Publisher accepts no liability for materials created by others. All materials should be considered protected by Australian and international intellectual property laws. Unless you are authorised by law or the copyright owner to do so, you may not copy any of the materials. The mention of a product or service, person or company in this publication does not indicate the Publisher's endorsement. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Publisher, its agents, company officers or employees. Any use of the information contained in this publication is at the sole risk of the person using that information. The user should make independent enquiries as to the accuracy of the information before relying on that information. All express or implied terms, conditions, warranties, statements, assurances and representations in relation to the Publisher, its publications and its services are expressly excluded save for those conditions and warranties which must be implied under the laws of any State of Australia or the provisions of Division 2 of Part V of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and any statutory modification or re-enactment thereof. To the extent permitted by law, the Publisher will not be liable for any damages including special, exemplary, punitive or consequential damages (including but not limited to economic loss or loss of profit or revenue or loss of opportunity) or indirect loss or damage of any kind arising in contract, tort or otherwise, even if advised of the possibility of such loss of profits or damages. While we use our best endeavours to ensure accuracy of the materials we create, to the extent permitted by law, the Publisher excludes all liability for loss resulting from any inaccuracies or false or misleading statements that may appear in this publication. COPYRIGHT (C) 2015 - THE INTERMEDIA GROUP PTY LTD.

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Simon Difford's advice on how to create a truly great bar.








NEWS All the latest industry news.

What you need to know about this growing category.



Original or spiced, there is a style for every occasion.

The revival of an Italian classic.







The new, the revamped and the rebranded venues opening around the country.

The latest wine and spirit releases for your back bar.





Where the market is headed for 2015.

The US breweries worth keeping on your radar.

Leading bar consultant Grant Collins on what drives him.


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IN THE COOLER The newest beers, ciders, and mixers.

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THE EVERLEIGH LAUNCHES MANHATTAN ALE THE Everleigh has launched its Manhattan Ale, a locally brewed collaboration with Dainton Brewing. Bar owner, Michael Madrusan, says that he had been mulling over the idea of bridging the gap between craft beer and cocktails for some time. Designed to complement, and not replace the classic cocktail, Manhattan Ale is brewed with malted rye and Noble hops, aged in Tasmanian whisky barrels and French oak shiraz casks. According to brewer Dan Dainton, this is the beginning of a series that will run to as many as six cocktail-inspired beers. The beer emulates the infamous Manhattan cocktail, a stirred combination of sweet vermouth, rye whiskey and Angostura bitters. The aging gives the brew flavours of dark fruit, spice and woodiness. Manhattan Ale is available through Northdown Craft Beer Movement and over the bar at The Everleigh.

ANK6 COGNAC NAMED WORLD’S BEST PRESENTED by TheDrinksReport. com, The World Cognac Awards are part of the prestigious World Drinks Awards programme. Cognac ABK6 VSOP was awarded the World’s Best Cognac 2014 title after samples of cognac where ranked by competition judges worldwide. Launched in 2006 by Francis Abécassis, the brand aims to appeal to a younger audience. According to the tasting panel it is full and rich but with an easygoing style. Driven by apple pie and cinnamon, the nose displays orange, vanilla and hazelnut aromas, which carry through onto the palate and provide an excellent finish. The characteristic fruitiness of ABK6 Cognacs comes from the chalky soil and climate of the hilltop vineyards.

PURITY VODKA TAKES OUT GRAND SPIRIT MASTER PURITY Vodka has won the prestigious title of overall Grand Spirit Master at the 2014 Spirits Masters Competition. The Swedish small-batch, ultra-premium vodka was also named Grand Vodka Master for the fourth year in a row. It has been awarded nearly 100 Gold Medals by experts in the top blind tasting competitions around the world and is the first brand to earn the title of Grand Vodka Master in four consecutive years. With its heritage based in the 13th century Ellinge Castle in southern Sweden, Purity Vodka is distilled 34 times, creating a spirit so refined that no filtration is necessary.



AUSTRALIA'S FIRST DISTILLED SPIRITS AND LIQUEURS AWARDS PROGRAM THE inaugural Australian Distilled Spirits Awards (ASDA) is being adjudicated in February 2015. Eight major trophies are up for grabs across seven categories – Whisky, Gin, Vodka, Brandy, Rum, Liqueurs and Alternative Spirits. The awards are conducted by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria and supported by the Australian Distillers Association. The ASDA have been designed to provide the growing number of distilleries in Australia with an opportunity to benchmark their product against that of their peers and gain invaluable industry feedback from respected industry experts. The awards ceremony will be held 5 March.

THE KEYSTONE GROUP AND FOUR PILLARS COLLABORATE ON SPICED NEGRONI GIN FOUR Pillars distiller Cameron Mackenzie has collaborated with The Keystone Group’s Jason Williams and Cristiano Beretta to create the perfect gin for the famed Italian aperitivo, the Negroni. Part of the Four Pillars Bartender Series, the gin employs a range of native botanicals – including organic ginger, organic blood oranges, Australian bush tomato and grains of paradise – on top of the usual Four Pillars base gin which includes organic orange, pepperberry leaf, cardamom and lavender. As well as having a strong juniper presence, the trio doubled the quantity of cinnamon and star anise to complete the recipe.

NIP OF COURAGE SIGNS BLACK GATE DISTILLERY SYDNEY-based liquor distributor, Nip of Courage, has signed up its seventh Australian distiller, Brian Hollingworth from Black Gate Distillery. Black Gate Distillery was opened by Brian and his wife Genise in Mendooran in January 2012. They currently produce small batch aged releases, including Single Malt Whisky and Single Barrel Rum. They also produce vodka and Quandong Liqueur – made from an indigenous peach. Hollingworth produces his own wash and primarily ages the spirits in Sherry casks, which gives a delicate, smooth mouthfeel. Nip of Courage now carries Australia’s largest Australian craft spirit portfolio.

ANGOSTURA AWARDED RUM GRAND MASTER ANGOSTURA was awarded the Rum Grand Master at the 2014 Spirits Masters Awards, hosted by The Spirits Business, for the fourth consecutive year. Medals were awarded based on blind tasting panels of spirit experts and trade journalists who evaluated more than 1000 submissions using extensive criteria. Brands that are awarded Gold and Master Awards throughout the year are then evaluated for the year’s ultimate prize – the title of Grand Master. Angostura’s Master Distiller, John Georges (above), puts the success down to “expertise, perfection in distillation and determination to give consumers more choices”.

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and my brother, Nick, initially looked at it and by the time we got back to basecamp we were like “yeah, this is it”. Then we started our construction plan and oh my lord, that was something else entirely. We spent the first three weeks planning everything and putting our mood board together – then we hit the nails and hammers hard.

NEW BAR BUCKS THE TREND AND OPENS IN KINGS CROSS While many small bar operators are running out of the burning building that is Kings Cross, there are some still running toward the flames. bars&clubs spoke to manager Joe Van der Heide about the new venture Parsons Bar. Why Kings Cross given the current landscape? When we first heard about the lockouts we thought it was a bit harsh. It wasn’t exactly terribly well thought through. One thing that was helpful was Kellet Street’s amazing history. It has always been such a popular street in hospitality and when we picked this place we saw that The Powder Keg was starting up, the Dollhouse was just taken over, and Café Roma has been open for 30 years. The lockouts just meant we had to be a bit smarter about things. We decided our aim was to attract the locals back to an area they once loved. I think part of the lockouts meant that anybody who lived here wouldn’t necessarily find their scene on Darlinghurst strip – we wanted to appeal to them and get them back. When you turn off Bayswater Rd and turn that corner onto Kellet St it is like a whole new world – it's completely different and it’s only 100 metres away. So we decided something a little bit more personal and private would be the way to go. Embrace the area – it's what small bars do. Look at Newtown or Balmain – there is no reason we can’t do it here.

When did the dream to open a bar begin? After about a month working in hospitality. I mean everybody who works in the industry – that isn’t studying to do something else – usually loves it and has aspirations of their own place. It has always been the dream and the goal I guess. Why wouldn’t you want to own your own bar?

How did you juggle everyone’s ideas? A big part of it is getting along – every waking minute. It kind of fell into place pretty easily and being brothers who have lived together for long enough – although it is the first time we have all worked together in eight years – it was easy because we have similar tastes, we just agree on stuff. We went into it as Art Deco and then as we started looking at different stuff it all sort of fell into place. We knew we didn’t want it to be a speakeasy or a Prohibition-

style bar as we didn’t want to be what was out there already. Not that the area is done, we just wanted to be something new. Our designer was actually the one who came up with the final idea – he just worded it perfectly. He said, “What about working class Australian?” What does working class Australian look like? A bar that three idiots built. Basically, it’s the period during 1920-1940 which had a huge European influence. Because of the huge entertainment offering the area was quite wealthy, with people travelling from all over the country to attend the theatre or opera. Meanwhile, there would always be these European off-the-boaters looking for whatever work they could find. Eventually, they began to set up streetfood stores which are the inspiration of our EuropeanMediterranean share menu. 3 Kellett Street, Potts Point

What was the process? We began looking at the start of last year and it was a long and gruelling process. Any place that we found was either too much or not viable financially. We did end up finding some cool places, but we could never land any. When we heard about this place we weren’t very hopeful at all, but ended up checking it out. Myself, dad



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WINNING a nation-wide Monkey Shoulder Scotch competition, well-known Sydney bartenders Ben Blair, Reece Griffiths and Lee Potter Cavanagh have been given a kickstart for their end of summer Wayne’s Worldinspired pop-up bar. The team have won an array of awards in their own right – both in Australia and internationally for both bars and drinks – so the result should be special. Located on Oxford Street, in the centre of Sydney’s reinvigorated cultural hub, Whisky Jerx will offer a fun, friendly house party experience with an evolving offering of five house-made sodas, quick-fire cocktails and a small selection of spirits that the team thinks are "magically babelicious". There will be plenty of rock classics from the house band, with punters warned to expect a fast, loud and fun night out – think crafted sodas served unpretentiously, tinnies of delicious beer, and banging cocktails all at a decent price. And perhaps a little Bohemian Rhapsody until the wee hours. The pop-up bar will be open from 25 February 2015. Whisky Jerx, 106 Oxford St, Paddington, Sydney, NSW

PEEKABOO BAR OPENS IN WOOLLOOMOOLOO THE Alice In Wonderland-inspired small bar is off the main drag on Bourke Street, Woolloomooloo. The fit out, by Edge Design Studio, has stripped back sandstone walls, naked light bulbs, a timber bar top and a custom painted wall mural. Cocktails include revamped classics, like Cheshire (gin, Aperol, and honey water with a mint/ grapefruit granita), Boops Ride (Hennessey, Cointreau, lemon juice and watermelon), and Golightly (Jack Daniels, Campari, Amaretto peach bitters, and honey water). The wine list contains a selection of local and international drops, while the beer fridge has a selection of craft offerings. The menu is a mix of smaller share plates and substantial meals including soft tacos, five spiced pork belly, and charcuterie boards. Once a month the bar hosts Sunday Bloody Sundays with live music, Bloody Marys, Bloody Bulls, Buffalo wings, cheesy fries and mini dogs. Peekaboo Bar, 120 Bourke Street, Woolloomooloo, NSW 0403 747 788

GIN IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY HAMISH Goonetilleke of The Rum Diary Bar and Laura Rosadoni have joined forces to create a G&Tea Gin Garden in Melbourne’s Fitzroy. The fit-out is a combination of the quirky, unique nature of the Brunswick St area and classic English garden parties, with custom painted vintage garden furniture, herb planter boxes, and a handmade white picket fence. The venue features a collection of 60 local and international gins, that will grow to over 200 before the year is out. The bar team is headed up by Andy Griffiths (The Rum Diary) and Daniel Monk (Joe Taylor, The Toff in Town). The cocktails on offer are unique takes on old classics, such as the French 75, made with still wine and quince infused green tea gin then carbonated to order. They’ll also be working on a range of homemade tonics and infusions, featuring some of the most unique and interesting teas in the world. And what garden party would be complete without the extravagance of a high tea? In collaboration with Xavier Mercader (The Napier, The Rum Diary, O’Connell’s) G&Tea’s menu embraces the decadence of high tea – one-of-a-kind cake stands and all – and showcases Melbourne’s best produce. G&Tea Gin Garden, 100 Kerr St, Fitzroy, Victoria (03) 9417-7574

TOKYO BIRD TAKES FLIGHT IN SURRY HILLS THIS new Japanese-style small bar brings whisky, cocktails and yakitori – the popular Japanese drinking food – to Surry Hills in Sydney. Run by general manager Jason Ang (Gilt Lounge, Sokyo) and bar manager Yoshi Onishi (Stitch, Victoria Room), the bar has a menu of classic-style cocktails and a sizable whisky collection (unsurprisingly focussed on Japanese whisky). The go-to yakitori skewer is the traditional chicken thigh with shallots or leeks, alongside chicken wings, pork belly and sausages filled with cheese. The charcoalgrilled skewers are complemented by drinking-friendly snacks, like house-made pickles and chicken liver paté. The cocktail menu will be constantly evolving to coincide with the seasonal changes in the Japanese calendar. Also available are Japanese beers, sake, and wine. Nothing has been left to chance, with the water for the ice filtered through Japanese charcoal for purity, to ensure nothing interferes with the taste of your whisky. Tokyo Bird, Shop 2, 226–228 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills, NSW (02) 8880 0788

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Sarah Rees investigates the old-is-new-again approach to producing and drinking vodka.


odka has taken some stick over the years for its neutral flavour, yet it has weathered the storm to remain the second biggest selling drink in the world according to the Drinks International ratings, moving 925 million gallons per year, and beaten only by a Chinese vodka-like drink Baijiu, at 1.3 billion gallons per year. The recent star in the category is flavoured vodka, with the industry seeing an explosion of interest in new and diverse varieties. While some of the more daring flavours of recent times

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(wasabi-flavoured anyone?) are undoubtedly products of the modern era, the act of flavouring vodka is a nod to the spirit’s earliest incarnations when the impurities within the spirit needed to be concealed with flavours to ease the drink down.

NEED TO KNOW Vodka is a spirit created using a high starch or high sugar ingredient such as potato or beet molasses. The raw ingredients are processed to extract the sugars, fermented in ethanol and then

distilled in a column still to an ABV of around 95 per cent. This basic spirit is then filtered to remove impurities – most commonly with activated charcoal but some brands adopt glamourous filtration methods, like using garnet crystals or crushed diamonds – before it is diluted to somewhere between 37.5% and 50% ABV. Most early versions of vodka were homemade, with flavours added to hide the impurities. Most producers moved on to unflavoured vodka as purification methods improved and pot distillation


was introduced in Russia in the mid-15th century. However, some of the earliest flavours have stood the test of time. Zubrowka, dating from the 16th century, is still popular today and flavoured with bison grass collected from the Bialowieza forest on the border of Poland and Belarus. Modern methods of flavouring vodka have remained similar to those practiced throughout history. Most commonly, ingredients are macerated and sit in the vodka at room temperature until their flavours have been imparted. Some brands simply blend in an extract of the chosen flavour for ease and speed, while a small handful will redistill the spirit to weave the flavour into the drink more tightly. The flavouring ingredient can be left in the bottle or removed – the former option presenting a talking point, such as with Edible’s Scorpion Vodka, complete with scorpion in the bottle (and yes, you can eat it).

BOUTIQUE AND UNIQUE In Australia, flavoured vodka accounts for around eight per cent of the entire vodka category – a peak attained after years of growth and an explosion of interest. In 2009, the flavoured vodka market recorded a 24.57 per cent rise according to UK market research company Euromonitor. This has since slowed – 0.42 per cent year on year growth in 2013 – but still demonstrates an enthusiasm that should not go unnoticed by the savvy bar manager. In recent years, suppliers have pushed the flavour boundaries more and more, creating increasingly exotic variants. “In my opinion most bars would prefer to add whatever flavour is required to a drink along with a pure, premium vodka, than having it already made for them,” says Sacha Delfosse, venue manager at Luxe Bar in Perth. “For a flavoured vodka to catch a bartenders’ attention and be of any real use these days it would have to be an exotic or hard-to-match flavour.” This has created a market that is bringing craft distillers to the fore. The US has recorded the biggest increase in craft companies – an increase of 500,000

nine-litre cases from 2010 to 2012 (DISCUS). One such producer to gain from the rising interest is Deep Eddy Vodka. The company’s Sweet Tea Vodka, introduced in 2010, is distilled ten times and flavoured with high quality tea and local clover honey. While Deep Eddy is currently unavailable in Australia, one gem that can be accessed here is Marmalade Vodka from Britain’s Chase Distillery. Potato farmer William Chase established his brand in 2008 to make his farm sustainable and by 2010 his spirit was named best vodka at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The Marmalade Vodka was originally introduced as a one-off but surging popularity forged its place on the permanent range, joining a delicate pink Rhubarb Vodka created with local, wild rhubarb. This attention to detail in terms of quality of ingredients and natural flavours feeds in to the current trend across the food and beverage scene for highlighting provenance, something the bigger vodka brands are seeking to capitalise on. Absolut are working on more strategically piquing bartender interest with a new boutique range developed with the involvement of a British bartender, Nick Strangeway. Absolut Craft currently consists of three flavours – Herbaceous Lemon, Smokey Tea and Bitter Cherry – all of which contain only natural ingredients and deliver “a wonderfully complex flavour experience”. While the trio of Absolut Craft has not yet made it to Australia, it signals a move towards more closely appealing to the drink makers rather than the drinkers themselves in the battle to secure product spots in bars that are increasingly refining their ranges. The natural flavour approach is also meeting a demand in the market for products that are more health conscious as bartenders – and drinkers – seek to reduce sugar intake, a trend noted by Allan Shearer, CEO of island2island, supplier of Stolichnaya Premium Vodka. “As a result [of being health conscious], bartenders are experimenting by making their own savoury flavoured vodkas like seaweed, mushroom, salmon and even bacon,” he says. “Whilst I don’t see customers embracing these flavours long-term, I do see flavours continuing to attract customers who want beverage experiences outside the mainstream offerings.” Delfosse agrees on the savoury angle. “Consumers are going after premium/super premium brands and looking for different vodkas based on what they are made of, wheat, rye, potato for example.” Savoury flavours are also attracting bartenders, as Kevin Griffin, bar manager at 1806 in Melbourne points out.

“The current trend has steered away from the overly sweetened and fruit-focused flavours and is more focused on classic flavours and the savoury.”

COCKTAILS Flavoured vodkas are ideal for making quick cocktails, a ready-made combination of spirit and flavour that allows bartenders to swiftly create specific drinks. Shearer predicts a “trend of fun and experimentation” on the way in the cocktail market and suggests “a real shift from the formal attitude of cocktail making”. Interest is certainly rising, yet Delfosse suggests that bartenders are keen to create flavours themselves “as a point of difference”, with flavoured vodkas deemed “too restrictive”. Luxe only stocks one bottle of flavoured vodka – Ketel One Citroen, which they use in drinks like Cosmos for convenience and “because it’s a quality vodka”. Kevin Griffin also stocks Ketel One to make Cosmopolitans, but has high praise for Grey Goose which he uses “for our own creations” and claims the range is “ultimately the best flavoured vodkas on the market”. “They have a fantastic fresh aroma and use fresh fruits and not artificial flavours.” Griffin also stocks 42 Below Manuka Honey and Feijoa, Belvedere Bloody Mary, and was recently impressed with Buttered 666 and Ciroc Coconut. b&c

HAVE YOU HEARD OF? FEELING ADVENTUROUS? WHY NOT TRY…. Name: Oddka’s Electricity Vodka Producer: Wyborowa Country of Origin: Poland Name: Naked Jay Big Dill: Pickle Vodka Producer: Barton Distillery/Barton Brands Country of Origin: US Name: Smoked Salmon Flavoured Vodka Producer: Alaska Distillery Country of Origin: US Name: Indio Wasabi Vodka Producer: Indio Spirits Country of Origin: US Name: Pinnacle Pecan Pie Vodka Producer: Pinnacle Country of Origin: France

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Negroni T

he classic aperitif, the Negroni has plenty of positive connotations – summer in Italy, drinking on a terrace before dinner, La Dolce Vita, and slick Italian men in linen suits and Ray-Ban Wayfarers. Though the cocktail itself is often described as an acquired taste, it is the definition of balance with the vermouth mellowing the slightly medicinal characters of the Campari, while the gin adds depth of flavour.

HISTORY The canonical story has it that Count Camillo Negroni invented the drink in 1919, in Florence, Italy, at Caffè Casoni. He asked his bartender Fosco Scarselli, to strengthen his favourite cocktail, the Americano, by adding gin rather than soda water. Scarselli switched to an orange garnish to signify that it was a different drink, and soon, the punters were all ordering a ‘Count Negroni’. After the success of the cocktail, the Negroni family founded Negroni Distillery in Treviso, Italy, and produced a ready-made version, the Antico Negroni. An alternative theory – that began to gain ground in 2014 – attributes the invention to General Pascal Olivier de Negroni, or Count de Negroni. A Corsican Frenchman, he introduced his military colleagues to his favourite “vermouth-based cocktail” of his own invention while posted in Senegal, West Africa, in 1857. However, as Campari was not invented until 1860 it is possible that this was simply a pre-curser version. How it got to Italy is anyone’s guess.

TWISTS Regardless of the convoluted history, the Negroni is a classic, and there are plenty of ways to put a twist on it. The Negroni Slushy first made waves in Chicago in 2013 before hitting the New York bar scene. The frozen drink is served straight up, and apparently the bitter, refreshing flavours were a huge hit with bar goers. More familiar is the barrel-aged Negroni that is currently starring in bars like Sydney’s Nomad (theirs is aged in oak for exactly 41 days). Taking in off in 2009, the practice follows on from the tradition of barrel-aging whisky to impart flavour and colour. The basic premise therefore holds that the barrelling creates a Negroni that is smoother, mellower and with deeper flavour notes – a cocktail for really brooding over, Hemingway-style. The Bon Vivant in Edinburgh has taken their aging one step further with a specialty solera system. It consists of six wooden barrels and makes for a striking feature in the bar. A traditional variation is the Negroni Sbagliato – which means literally “mistake Negroni” in Italian – where the gin is replaced with sparkling wine for a less full-on version of the classic aperitif. And for those in need of a pick-me-up, the classic has also been given a caffeinated twist with the addition of cold drip coffee or cold drip coffee liqueur. Eau De Vie developed a version, with their Experimental Spirits Co also selling Cold Drip Negroni by the bottle.

WHERE TO ORDER A NEGRONI Ceres’ Table (Chicago) serves The Lazy Hitman (Ford’s Gin, Solerno blood orange liqueur, Carpano Bianco, Campari, Regans’ orange bitters, blood orange garnish). 2 Sparrows (Chicago) has the Earl of Negroni (Earl Grey-infused North Shore Gin #11, Campari, sweet vermouth, orange syrup). I Sodi (NYC) – Negronis are the specialty with four on the menu. The Gilroy (NYC) does a bespoke selection including the Boulevardier (Old Forester bourbon, Cynar, Aperol), the Oaxaca (Ilegal mezcal, Antica formula, Campari), and a selection of aged Negronis. Parm (NYC) created the cult Beet Negroni (beet-infused gin, sweet vermouth and Campari). QT (Sydney) has a menu of six, including the Trident (Aalborg Aquavit, Cynar, Tio Pepe Dry Sherry, Peach Bitters) and offers flights, as well as the option to have your choice carbonated.

Classic Negroni

Glass: Old Fashioned

Ingredients: • 30mL Campari • 30mL gin • 30mL sweet red vermouth Method: Stir into glass over ice, garnish and serve Garnish: Orange peel Comment: To make the drink less potent, make in a Collins glass and top with soda water. To lighten the bitterness use a sweeter gin and substitute Aperol for the Campari. To add complexity use a spicier, deeper flavoured gin.

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JUST Predicting the trends and knowing what is coming could be the difference between a successful year and a disappointing one. Jacob Stern chats to the experts as they cast their eyes ahead into 2015.


eing ahead of the trends is all well and good. However, it is prudent to keep front of mind that the fundamentals of running a bar will never go out of style, and a maintained focus on the small details will go a long way to ensuring a consistently healthy business. After all, almost all trends are ultimately rooted in, and are variations of, the time-honoured classics of: friendly service, quality products and an enjoyable atmosphere. An enhanced understanding of what the modern consumer finds an ‘enjoyable atmosphere’ is the driving force behind many of the predicted trends for 2015. Patrons these days, millennials in particular, are being identified as knowledge-hungry drinkers, eager to know far more about what is in their drink than in decades gone by. This demand for information is driving drinkers to venues with welleducated bartenders and back shelves stocked with products that have rich histories and vibrant backstories. Yes, history can be enjoyable, and provenance too, so the more you know about your products the more enticing your business can become this year. Nicki Drinkwater from CocaCola Amatil recognises that “consumers are increasingly engaging with brands that have a story to tell beyond a simple country of origin” – they care about sustainability, authenticity, history and locality. Drinkers want to know who grew the lemon you’re squeezing, which farm your

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GAMES pomegranates come from, and which drunken sailor first sipped the rum you’ve just poured them. This trend is not limited to the cocktails that are being created, it is also spreading to the drinks being served straight-up. Diageo Innovation Manager, Joe Spence, notes that consumers are flocking to brands that successfully communicate “beautiful stories of craftsmanship and heritage”. And Drinkwater predicts that a rise in transparent labelling will help to assist information flow and credential presentation as brands shed their bells and whistles in favour of simplicity. A ready-made example is the rise of Pisco. According to Jason Williams, Group Bars Manager for the Keystone Group, the clear grape spirit's “strong emphasis on terroir and provenance”, as well as its

strong heritage fits well with what drinkers are seeking. Add a classic cocktail – the Pisco Sour – and the trend is set to expand. Knowing your products is vital in keeping up with the changing face of the bar and club industry. As competition continues to increase, and new establishments open and thrive, it is important to adapt and meet any challenges you may meet. In the face of increased competition, and in an attempt to stand out, many venues are broadening their repertoires and offering more than just bar service, turning themselves into hybrid venues. Uncle Ming’s owner Justin Best points out that “legislative change could see a trend towards these hybrid venues using their full kitchen capability to really enhance their drink offerings”, with vastly improved food menus


MILLENIALS – Those younger drinkers of today. They are more engaged and educated consumers. Their interest in the story of a brand leads them to be more adventurous but less loyal customers. Nicki Drinkwater boils it down to the “demand for knowledge”; a demand that, increasingly, establishments are feeling pressure to meet.



– Put this one down to those millenials too. The trend of wanting to know exactly what is being consumed, and where it has come from, has led to more honest labels with a greater focus on product heritage. Drinkwater says the days of busy labels are gone, as it becomes “harder to pull the wool over savvy drinkers’ eyes”.


– They might not sound sexy, but pre-made cocktails might be the way of the future. The benefits are clear: greater service speed and a more consistent product, all while freeing up staff to engage customers on a deeper level. Establishments such as London’s 69 Colebrook Row and the White Lyan have already jumped on board. This trend will help enable those with a mind to providing a more allencompassing experience.

ARTISAN & CRAFT – The funky and the individual has



– It’s been a long time coming, but the need to create and provide customers with an experience – one they can’t recreate at home – is finally a part of the conversation. Whether it is ice, glassware, décor, stories, food, music or entertainment, the entire package is what counts, basic service included. Christophe Lehoux of Pocket Group wraps it up in a neat bow: “Venues have to pay attention to every detail”. Here are five that are doing it right: •P  roject Botanicals Pop-up bar (Melbourne) – Ingenuity in full swing. Food dishes are based on the botanicals used in Bombay Sapphire Gin, then paired with cocktails using the same underlying ingredients • The Islay Oyster at The Wild Rover – Whiskey and oysters, yes please. Customers are offered the chance to order a medicine dropper with 15mL of Laphroig 10-year old to enjoy with their dish of oysters • The Clinic (Singapore) – Probably a step too far for those without a fascination for the morbid. Drinks are served out of I.V. drip bags whilst patients, sorry patrons, relax in hospital beds and wheel chairs. • Absolut Icebar (Sweden) – Yes icebars are popping up all over the world these days, but this was the original. All-ice everything is the order of the day, as patrons don beanies and coats to sip from frozen ice glasses. • The Subway Inn (U.S.A.) – This one is not for the faint hearted, or, arguably, law abiding citizens. For one week only the Subway Inn offered free rounds and ten dollar handouts to anyone who could throw goldfish into a Piranha tank lodged behind the bar. They only had to pay up twice, and business boomed. We don’t condone the unnecessary cruelty, but points for creativity.

spread well beyond beer. Customers are expecting craft spirits in their cocktails. New distilleries and wider distribution routes are all factors contributing to this trend, meaning more products can reach more places. Expect American craft whiskey to grow, along with premium tequila, gin and mezcal.


– Who doesn’t love a flavour hit. The continuing popularity of honey-flavoured and cinnamon-flavoured whiskeys has opened the door for more inspired flavour combinations in other spirits. From the initial success of Bundaberg Mutiny spiced rum, to the ongoing success of premium gin, it’s not hard to see why Diageo innovation manager, Joe Spence, says that “spiced drinks are a dream combination for drinks innovators” and a must behind any bar. Indeed The Rum Diary is selling their house Spiced Rum to thirsty fans through their website.


– Here is a concept that has been butchered for too long and might finally see fulfilment in 2015. The growth in craft beers has opened up innumerable boilermaker possibilities, and an increasing number of bars, such as Whisky & Alement, The Whisky Room at the Clock Hotel, Kodiak Club, and Lily Blacks, have boilermaker menus. Traditionally beers have been paired with whisky, but there’s a lot of fun to be had matching beer with rum and tequila too.

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proving as attractive as a well-developed cocktail list. The trend towards hybrid venues will see the door open to great innovation in venue theatre and interactivity in 2015. Live music, engaging staff, theme nights and décor will all be taken to another level this year as bar owners seek to stand out from the pack. Ultimately this boils down to ensuring a night out is fun, with Christophe Lehoux of Pocket Group reinforcing that venues must be focused on “making sure every customer gets the best experience possible”. While catching on to a trend early can be great, it is essential to keep in mind what makes your business unique. 2015 is predicted to see some trends expanding, like experimentation with botanicals and teas, an influx of Japanese whiskies, smoky cocktails, and the rebirth of the boilermaker. The popularity of French and Italian drinks should rise and we will start to see craft beer canned en masse. One trend the experts are not looking forward to,

but admit has been a long time coming, is a rise in health awareness. We are talking about cocktail lists with calorie counts, skinny vodka, quinoa-based spirits and gluten-free beer. It might make you crinkle your toes and furrow your brow but Ben Blair of Whiskey Jerx points out that “people are drinking less and drinking better” – meaning a healthy option on your drinks list can win you extra customers. The consequences of an increasingly health conscious market are far reaching and intimately related to provenance and transparent labelling. A customer concerned with what is going into their drink will want to know how fresh your juice is, the exact ingredients in the spirit you are using, and how sugary your syrup is. This will see growth in the artisan and homemade sectors as bar owners seek either innovative ways to provide healthy substitutes, or premium products to cater to demand. Following trends can be a stressful business. Patrons can be fickle and what is hot in April may not be desirable by July. Justin Best suggests that actual drink trends (that is product trends not atmospheric ones) are created by suppliers not consumers. He says that “awareness equals

FUN – everyone wants to enjoy themselves on nights out. Little things like disco drinks and geeky bartenders can appeal to a patron’s fun loving side. Mainly though, it all comes back to those cornerstones of good establishments; service, hospitality and ambience.


– Great for those consumers who love a ‘tinnie’ but have moved on from old school brands. The Australian Brewery was one of the first Australian breweries to can craft brews, taking note from breweries overseas. This movement is rooted in the pursuit of freshness, as craft brewers strive to bring consumers the best product possible.


sales equals drink trend”, implying that it is the production, sale and advertisement of products that determine fashions. If that is the case, expect to see bars continue to favour spiced or flavoured rums, gins and vodkas, especially as more hit the market and become available to a broader demographic. Many of the trends for 2015 are linked and can work harmoniously together. New hybrid venues can be the breeding grounds for new experimental venue theatre, while a patron’s desire for knowledge can lead to a nostalgic theme night centred on drinks with engaging histories. It may be tempting to jump on each and every trend, hoping to turn yourself into a mecca for all things groovy. However it is important to remember that employing a more considered and refined approach is

likely to generate a better outcome in the long run. Hamish Goonetilleke of The Rum Diary and G&Tea believes that “the key to 2015 is innovation”. He adds that owners and bartenders need to make sure that even the most regular customers are surprised, as it “adds to the complexity of the business and the products we offer to create memorable experiences, and in the intense competition of today's game this will provide rewards”. In essence, acting on one trend in a quality manner will be far more advantageous than acting on them all half-heartedly – as Ron Swanson says, “Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing”. Trends are fun, engaging and the lifeblood of the industry; take them seriously without getting lost in their wake. b&c

sole domain of those Islay whiskies. Sure there are those classic smoky cocktails like The Penicillin, but they are not for everyone. Expect this trend to only grow from here, with Nicki Drinkwater mentioning Highland Park smoking chambers – contraptions for “venues that are interested in experimenting with peat smoke in their cocktail offering”.


LITE, LOW-CAL & ALL-ROUND HEALTHINESS – Diageo innovation manager, Joe Spence, puts it down to “macro trends of health and wellbeing leading to more innovation, beyond just zero sugar”. Expect more organic ingredients, gluten-free beers and sugar-free syrups to flood the market, and beware of calorie counts on cocktail lists.

INCREASED COMPETITION – This is great for everyone. More competition means business is healthy and consumers have a plethora of choices before them. It’s not just new bars and more hybrid venues, but better bars with higher quality food and greater selections of premium drink offerings. Open a bar within a pub like The Whisky Room at the Clock Hotel, or offer gourmet hotdogs on Tuesdays – anything to stay ahead of the pack.

SMOKED COCKTAILS – Smoke, smoke, and more smoke. For too long it has been the

– Source your goods, go walk about, get lost in the forest, or the park at least. Use foraged ingredients as a garnish, or muddle them in with the perfectly selected spirit. Botanicals are not restricted to gin; they can be house-made tinctures, bitters and tonics. Joe Spence believes you cannot undersell “the mix of authentic flavours created by botanicals”.

TEA – Following on from the thirst for botanicals, this will be the year of the tea cocktail. It is already popping up everywhere from the new Absolut Craft range to the menus of specialist bars – Hamish Goonetilleke of G&Tea says to think outside the box with “camomile ice, and tea washes, as well as infusions”. Christophe Lehoux is also among the converted, recognising that, unlike coffee, “it is a versatile base for all sorts of cocktails – the variety of teas are endless”. Pay particular attention to Kombucha teas, and expect to see many house-made varieties appear on cocktail lists across the nation, as Lehoux says it is a “versatile product that can easily be used as a standalone or a base mixer for cocktails”.


– A sure thing. In selecting a Japanese whisky as his Whisky Bible Whisky of the Year, author Jim Murray guaranteed Japanese whiskies would be a growing trend in 2015. An accolade usually reserved for the more traditional Scotch whiskies, this acknowledgment has seen the number of Japanese whiskies available locally increase dramatically over the past year. Get on it.

ITALIAN & FRENCH PRODUCTS – First we fell in love with their wines, and now we are falling for the rest of their alcoholic offerings. Christophe Lehoux notes that “in the last couple of years we’ve seen an emerging interest in amari and vermouth” and suspects this will continue and grow once brands get their stories and flavours out to the Australian public. This also ties in with the ‘lite’ fad as the Aperol Spritz returns to popularity and vermouths usurp all else as the base of mixed drinks.

FAT-WASHING CLEAR SPIRITS - Fat-washing bourbon is so last year. Watch out as bars experiment with fatwashing gins and white rums.

MUST-POUR BRANDS FOR THE YEAR AHEAD: Laphroaig – celebrating its 200th anniversary this year Amaro Montenegro – every bartender’s favourite Fever-Tree – if you’re not offering your customers a choice of premium tonics, you should be Pisco – the South American favourite is gaining ground

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Simon Difford, founder of, is one of the world’s leading experts on bars and cocktails. Here he examines each of the ingredients that goes into making a world-class bar CRAFT AND COMMERCE

“The ideal height for a bar counter is 111 cm and the counter should have sufficient overhang (at least 25½ cm) to properly accommodate guests’ legs to allow them to sit closely to the bar” 20 bars&clubs


ervice, décor, atmosphere, drinks selection and food, or at least bar snacks, all contribute to making a good bar but within those broad headings it is the numerous small things that contribute to making truly great bar. What follows is something of a check list.

SERVICE DOOR STAFF It's worth having a greeting that is welcoming rather than “You’re not on the list. You’re not coming in mate”.

FRIENDLY WELCOME Ideally every guest should be greeted and made to feel welcome as they enter.

CONSUMMATE HOST It’s difficult to engage in conversation with everyone sat at the bar so, when at the Savoy’s American Bar in London, Peter Dorelli used to introduce guests to their neighbours to encourage conversation between them.

TABLE SERVICE Friendly, efficient table service sets a bar apart. A good

server notices that glasses are empty and, remembering what the guests previously ordered, asks if they’d like another. Similarly, they should notice that a guest is not drinking and ask if the drink is to their taste.

CLEAN TOILETS Toilets should be clean and constantly monitored. Hot water and hand towels are a given. Toilet attendants waiting to pounce with a squirt of soap and a hand towel in return for a tip are to be avoided.


DÉCOR AGE GRACEFULLY Well-designed bars improve with age while, conversely, it’s telling when bars need a refit every few years.

CLUTTERED OR MINIMALIST Minimalist interiors can look great but cluttered bars tend to be more homely with walls lined with pictures and/or objects stimulating interest, particularly for solo drinkers.

ATMOSPHERIC LIGHTING Great bars have a warm glow about them with no bright bare bulbs.

ROBUST FLOORING The floor of a bar not only has to look good it must be robust enough to withstand spillages and high heels. Thick planked hardwood floors are the surface of choice.

BARTENDER STATION Well-designed, practical and well laid out bartender stations are essential. Bartenders should have everything they need within an arm’s reach without having to move.

BAR COUNTER People like to sit at bars so great bars have plenty of counter space. Bar stools should be comfortable with backs, arm and foot rests. The ideal height for a bar counter is 111 cm and the counter should have sufficient overhang (at least 25.5 cm) to properly accommodate guests’ legs to allow them to sit closely to the bar. Particularly important for eating at the bar.


mood and be at an appropriate volume.

bar counter for handbags and jackets. If there is no cloakroom service then there should also be sufficient coat hooks within sight of each table.

embarrassing initiative test for guests. They should be simple and illustrated so as to be understandable to different language speakers.




Chairs should be comfortable and not so low that they are difficult to get out of. A table or ledge on which to rest food and drinks should be in reach of every chair.

A great atmosphere is the hardest thing to achieve. Difficult to pin down, but bars either have it or they don’t. Really great bars manage to achieve this with relatively few people. Empty space kills atmosphere and island bars are a great way to break up space and make even quiet bars feel atmospheric. False walls which can be opened to reveal more space when busy are also very effective.

Fruit flies are off-putting and the sign of a dirty bar.

GOOD VENTILATION Good ventilation is essential, particularly where smoking is still allowed.

TEMPERATURE The temperature should be kept at a comfortable level – not too hot or too cold. Even in the toilets.



Every bar should have hooks at regular intervals under the

Challenging gender signs on toilets can be an


LIGHTING See Design. Bright light is certainly not atmospheric.

MUSIC Music should suit the

CROWD Friendly and varied crowd but not too crowded.

DRINKS OFFERING BEERS • Truly great bars have 20 plus beers on draught and 100s by the bottle but even if just three beers are offered the selection should be varied, encompassing different styles, not just bland Euro lagers. • Beers should be served in clean, suitable cold glassware – ideally specific to that beer. Never from the bottle. • It’s great to see a beer menu with tasting notes and perhaps food matching recommendations.

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“Many of the world’s best bars have less than a dozen drinks on their menu” • Beer should be served by knowledgeable staff who offer tasting samples of draught beers.

WINES • Truly great bars have wine lists to shame 3-Star Michelin restaurants but a dozen wines can still make a good list. The list should incorporate some interesting bins with varied grape varieties and styles. Blends should stretch beyond two grape varieties. • The wine list should be well-designed with short tasting notes and food matching recommendations. • Wines should be served by knowledgeable staff who can offer recommendations. • There should be a good choice of wines by the glass with an Enomatic system or similar to ensure wines are served at their best.

SPIRITS • Top notch bars offer a large choice of premium liquor brands across all categories – not just gin. • Good selections include some interesting quirky

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spirits as well as more obvious must stocks. • All but the fastest moving bottles should be kept sealed to prevent evaporation and contamination. A pour spout does not seal the bottle. • The best bars have spirits menus with tasting notes and recommendations for aperitifs and after dinner drinks.

COCKTAILS • Every ‘cocktail bar’ that describes itself as such should offer great tasting, well-balanced cocktails made using freshly pressed juices. • Great bars have great ice with drinks preferably served over moulded/carved ice. (I prefer shaking and stirring with inch square cubes.) • Cocktails should be served in clean, elegant and chilled glassware. No Z-shaped stemmed Martini glasses or huge Martini glasses (5 to 7oz max). • Better to make a few perfect cocktails than offer a list of 100 mostly badly made ones. Many of the


world’s best bars have less than a dozen drinks on their menu. • A selection of classic and contemporary cocktails with at least one house signature cocktail. • Cocktail menus should avoid mentioning “sour mix”, “grenadine” and local legislation allowing “sugar”. • Menus should only list drinks which all the bartenders are confident and proficient at making. “Our skilled bartenders can make any cocktail you ask for” is a ridiculous statement to list on a menu. • Great signature cocktails can help drive a bar’s reputation. Examples include the Pisco Punch at San Francisco’s legendary Bank Exchange Bar, the Bellini at Harry’s Bar, Venice, the Bloody Mary at Harry’s Bar, Paris, the Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel, Singapore, the Daiquiri at El Floridita, Cuba, and the Tommy’s Margarita

at Tommy’s in San Francisco. • Beware the three great cocktail bartending variables: 1. Ice and dilution – size of cubes, old ice, length of stir or shake. 2. Accuracy of measure – difficult to ‘freepour’ a fraction of a shot. 3. Quality of ingredients (particularly sugar syrup and juices).

accompaniment to the responsible consumption of alcohol and in many cities such as Portland, Oregon, it is mandatory for bars to serve food.

LENGTH OF STAY Customers stay for longer periods at bars which serve food rather than leaving to seek food elsewhere.

TEMPERANCE DRINKS • Non-alcoholic drinks and cocktails should be available for drivers, pregnant women, children, and even those who are simply thirsty. • A great bar should have great coffee. • Every bar should routinely serve complimentary iced water alongside alcoholic drinks – particularly short cocktails and spirits.

FOOD/SNACKS ESSENTIAL ACCOMPANIMENT I, and many others, consider food an essential

SIMPLE WILL DO Even simple dishes such as a club sandwich, cheese selections and charcuterie boards served with great bread will suffice.

FINGER FOOD Bar snacks should be just that and not require knives and forks.

CHIPS AND DIPS Every bar should serve chips (fries) and dips. This feature was first published on diffordsguide. com b&c

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s n i l l o C t n a r G

Renowned bar manager, published author, and expert bar consultant Grant Collins has an international reputation for creating awardwinning bars all over the world. We sat down to chat about his experiences and his new gin palace venture, The Powder Keg.


he founder and managing director of international bar consultancy company barsolutions, Grant Collins, certainly knows a few things about running a successful venue. The Brit began his career in the US in the early 90s, working at TGI Fridays, before returning to his hometown of London to manage Zander Bar, which scored London Cocktail Bar of the Year in 2000 before Collins himself was awarded the prestigious UK Bar Manager of the Year the following year. A brief holiday in Australia had Collins falling head over heels in love with the Aussie lifestyle, so he uprooted his life and relocated to what was, at the time, a slightly barren bar scene. “When I first arrived, the bar scene was in a huge post-Olympic lull without any real direction, and extremely behind the leading cocktail hubs of the time – London and New York City,” he says. “The liquor ranges stocked in bars at the time were so far behind the times that I found it quite hard to create many drinks that I had been making in London. The premium spirit market that was thriving in London was pretty well non-existent in Australia, so it was a big culture shock to say the least.” Determined to carry on in the same manner as he had in London, Collins took over the Water Bar at the W Hotel in Woolloomooloo in 2001. His fresh approach, influenced by the international bar scene, led to the Water Bar scoring a spot on the prestigious ‘One of the Top 10 Bars in the World’ list published by Conde Nast Traveler magazine in 2005. “At the Water Bar, we initiated many protocols that are now standard practice across the industry in Australia. Although, at the time, many thought we were off our heads,” he says. “We removed Bundy from the speed rail, made our own syrups, squeezed our own juices and garnished drinks with fresh ingredients and good ice.”

Collins’ drive to succeed landed him an incredible 18 awards on behalf of the Water Bar in a little under five years as drinkers flocked to the venue for the Grant Collins premium experience. So what exactly does that experience look like? According to Collins, the trick is in the detail – nothing is left to chance. “We nail the basics with great staff, great service and a great product, for the ultimate experience,” he says. It may sound simple, but it is the little things that can take the most time and energy to get right – and they are often the aspects that get neglected. Just one example of Collins’ attention to detail can be found at his latest venture, The Powder Keg. Responding to what he flags as a “big push from the public to begin specifying ice styles”, there are three options available behind the bar to cater to punters’ burgeoning interest in the area – ice-chipped, block and regular ice. “[The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given] was: attention to detail is key,” he says. “It really is the small things that make you stand out. I have always tried to focus on all the little things – much to the annoyance of my team.” According to Collins, one of the biggest challenges currently facing the Australian bar scene is that details are getting lost in the quest for the next big thing. “I have found that sometimes the basics are forgotten,” he says. “Some bars have let drink and service standards drop a little in the quest to be quirky and different.” Not that he has anything against quirky and different – in fact he maintains that diversity is a major strength of the Australian industry – so long as the concept has meaning, depth and consistency to back it up. “Many bars in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane are unique and original,” he says. “While this has only really happened in the last three to

THE POWDER KEG Collins’ latest venture is the much talked about The Powder Keg, in Sydney’s Potts Point, which sees him teaming up with James Young (Buzo, Wine Library). The bar is inspired by the Dutch and English gin palaces of the 17th and 18th centuries, playing on the history of genever (or jenever – also known as Dutch gin), gin and the cocktail. True to his inspiration, Collins has amassed Sydney’s largest gin collection, with over 120 types of the stuff sourced from around the world. “I’m really into Genever at the moment. As well as brands like Brooklyn Gin, King of Soho London Dry Gin, Boxer Gin, and Elephant Gin,” he says. “They’re all spectacular and I’m using them in both classic and modern cocktails.” Naturally, the bar pays homage to the humble G&T with three choices of ice, five choices of tonic – including a homemade variety – and an abundance of different garnishes on hand to spice up your selected tipple. “I think it’s the pure simplicity and refreshing nature of the mix that makes the G&T a classic [that has stood the test of time],” he says. The signature cocktails are a new take on gin classics, including the Nettle Gimlet (gin and homemade nettle cordial) and the Gunpowder Plot (gunpowder tea-infused gin, FernetBranca, gunpowder syrup, dandelion and burdock bitters and a tea smoke). There is also a little black book of vintage cocktails from the 17th and 18th centuries hidden behind the bar and brought out by request only. The stripped back interior highlights the 18th century architecture, accented with black leather club chairs and a wood panelled bar fitted with a vintage gin presentation cage.

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It may sound simple, but it is the little things that can take the most time and energy to get right – and they are often the aspects that get neglected

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four years, there are a lot of bars that are really trying hard to be different.” In Collins’ opinion the dire state of the industry in Australia has changed “beyond recognition” since he first landed on the scene, and he believes that the country more than measures up against the more mature scenes in the northern hemisphere. “Fast-forward 10 years and you now have a bar scene across the country that is right up there with London, New York City and San Francisco,” he says. “Bars like Baxter Inn, Shady Pines and Bulletin Place have really broken the mould on how Sydney bars should – or could – be run and set up.” As a world-leading consultant, Collins is expected to be across all the trends coming through the industry and how they can be applied to both new and existing venues. For 2015, he says that the drinks trends to watch will be quite varied. “Look out for flavour matching – like what chefs do – to create a matrix of tastes,” he says. “Older style aperitifs, bitters and digestives will continue to be popular, and sherry and cognac will both be making a comeback.” When quizzed on which bars to keep an eye on in the coming 12 months, he names “fantastic” venues Earl’s Juke Joint, The Baxter Inn, Lobo Plantation and Bulletin Place – and, of course, The Powder Keg.

Travelling around the world in his role as a consultant through his firm barsolutions has seen Collins involved in some of the most renowned bar openings around the globe. Here in Australia he was at the helm of the groundbreaking Zeta Bar at its opening in 2005, with his expertise leading to the bar clocking up 18 awards in just four years after opening, including the ‘AHA Cocktail Bar of The Year’ in its first year of operation. His name is also all over bars in the US, China, Japan, India, Singapore, and Thailand – including the multi-award winning Ku-De-Ta in Bali. As such, it’s a little difficult for Collins to pin down just one as the highlight of his career. “Mainly I’m happy that I’m still enjoying the industry after 16-plus years,” he says. “Travelling around the world, opening venues in Boston, New York and Seattle, as well as consulting for other bars have certainly been highlights too. Opening Zeta and The White Heart in Sydney has been pretty special. All these achievements were made even more special by the amazing characters I have met over the years.” Writing his first book, Mix It Up, is also up there on the list. The stylish tome covers everything from experimental cocktail recipes and interesting food bites, to homemade tonic water and DIY flavoured syrups, cordials and foams. All with Collins’ signature flair and attention to detail, naturally. b&c

“We didn’t want to be a themed bar and that be the end of the line; it was about building a model that would have longevity”

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Creating theatre around the rum category can take the drinking experience to a whole new level. Sarah Rees explains how.


f we don’t offer an experience, we may as well be a vending machine.” So says James Connolly, the self-titled Booze Boss at Perth’s The Angel’s Cut, a new and successful rum bar that stocks the largest and most eclectic range of rum in the city. Connolly places as much emphasis on the design and layout of his bar as he does his menu; prizing staff knowledge and ambience alongside equipping the bar with a range of good drinks. He recognises that consumers want bars to offer more than just a place to drink. Today’s customers want to have fun, escape

or immerse themselves in a different world. They want to be surprised and increasingly they want to learn. In short, they want a place that more fully engages their senses – not just their taste-buds. Connolly’s approach is echoed by the team at Sydney’s Lobo Plantation, a basement bar that channels the spirit of the Caribbean in the 1950s. For Jared Merlino, general manager and co-owner of the bar, opening Lobo was an opportunity to meet a demand that he felt was unmet in the market. “There were bars with rum and tiki bars had been done to death,” he says. “But

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no one had really captured and celebrated that fun and theatre of the Caribbean rum experience.” By offering drinkers an appropriate experience to suit the product, Lobo’s customers would be able to enjoy rum in the spirit (no pun intended) in which it was created, and originally savoured. So how does Lobo create its experience?

CREATING A LOOK Nailing a rum experience starts with creating a look that attracts and yet fully adheres to the overall concept of the establishment. A solid conceptual anchor helps ensure the bar is convincing, and the team at Lobo Plantation used the historical figure Julio Lobo – a Cuban sugar baron – to help focus their design and décor on an era, a feeling of opulence, and a location: pre-revolution Cuba. “Lobo and the era gave us a grounding to give people an understanding but we didn’t want to

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be a themed bar and that be the end of the line; it was about building a model that would have longevity,” Merlino explains. With a concept hinged in time and place, everything placed within the bar needed to meet this brief. This was achieved at Lobo by sourcing vintage wicker chairs – which the team re-upholstered – incorporating Chesterfieldbacked booths, and gathering pictures from books or from peoples’ private collections to hang on the walls. Glassware was also a key consideration but the team had to adjust their initially high ambitions, as Merlino explains: “We wanted crystal glassware, as that is what they used to use at the time, but it turned out to be prohibitively expensive. In the end, we got glasses made specifically for us by a company in China.” The glasses are varied – drinks are served in the appropriate vessel to ensure the experience continues to meet its mark – and customer reaction has been encouraging. “A few customers have said the glasses remind them of their grandma,” Merlino says. “That’s exactly what we want. We want to take people back to a specific era.”

THE ALL-IMPORTANT COCKTAIL LIST No rum bar is complete without a strong cocktail list that capitalises on the spirit’s distinctive, versatile flavour. A cocktail list that balances intrigue with reliability is crucial to keeping drinkers comfortable with, yet stimulated by, the range on offer. Cocktails are king at Lobo Plantation, accounting for 60-70 per cent of revenue. The bar team creates a list of 15 cocktails that changes on a quarterly basis and aims to meet customer interest as well as showcase some of their top products. “The main portion of our cocktail list is rum cocktails but we always have a gin cocktail, a vodka cocktail and a tequila cocktail to keep everyone happy,” says Merlino. “On each new list we keep some of our top sellers and create some new things.”


The effort invested into the creation of a cocktail list is time well spent, and Lobo’s whole bar team takes part in three months of work – testing, experimenting and tasting drinks until the new list is tweaked to perfection. The most popular cocktail on the current list is the Old Grogham (see recipe over leaf), a fun twist on a navy grog that pairs El Dorado Spiced with a rich homemade stout vermouth, finished with a flamed cinnamon stick for added aroma and theatre. “We discovered that flaming a cinnamon stick really brings out a wonderful smoky smell,” bar manager Dre Walters explains, as he flames the stick with a wicked grin. “And it’s always fun to use fire.” The carefully constructed cocktails are lightened with splashes of fun – shaken up by dapper bartenders with braces and effusive moustaches – and drinkers return for that balance of quality with quirk. Similar methods are employed at The Angel’s Cut to add glamour to the drinks, with its Cold Drip Rumhattan one of the most eye-catching cocktails on its list. “At the end of the day, the product has to be good,” stresses Merlino. And he should know – 18 months in and Lobo is packed every night of the week.

Spence chained the barrels to the floor of the distillery in her fear that these valuable casks would be stolen before their half century was up. “We do get some takers,” says Merlino as he unlocks the bottle to offer a smell of the glorious liquid. “Some people will come and sit at the bar and work their way through the Journal.”


RUM RANGE Fire and fun aside, the product is the bar’s raison d'être and should remain at the forefront when creating an authentic rum experience. Variety is key – Lobo stocks 230 rums on the back bar while The Angel’s Cut has over 100 – and the balance of crowd-pleasers with more interesting tipples will help to bring in the customers and allow for exploration of the range. The prices reflect the broadness of the choice – Lobo’s rums range from $8.50 to $350 per shot – and make the rum experience accessible, encouraging the curious to try something new. Top sellers remain fairly consistent across the market – Connolly notes Bacardi and Angostura have “a solid offering” while in the spiced category he predicts “Kraken and Sailor Jerry will have another big year with the rest trying to keep up”. At Lobo, Merlino lists the top sellers as Chairman Spiced, Old J, Cargo Cult, El Dorado and Sailor Jerry, with both bar managers noting the explosion of interest in spiced rum. “Spiced rum is going nuts at the moment,” says Connolly. While Merlino affirms that “people are going crazy for it”. “Spiced rum is effectively enhanced rum so it’s more palatable to people to start off with,” says Merlino. In other words, spiced rum serves as a good entry point for those interested in exploring rum. With range, exclusivity is always a powerful tool – at Lobo there is a locked cabinet within which their most expensive and intriguing rums reside. A highlight is one of the last bottles of Navy-issued rum, Black Tot: offering a taste of what sailors would get as their pay for those willing to spend $132 a shot. The star of the cabinet – and most expensive rum on the bar at $350 per shot – is Appleton 50, one of only 800 bottles in existence. Blended with rums that are at least 50 years old, this rum’s story goes that Master Blender Joy

“Before we made the Journal, people simply had a list of rums with prices, with nothing to distinguish them but the dollar”

Lobo’s Rum Journal is one of the bar’s strongest assets in crafting the rum experience, serving as a directory of the hundreds of rums currently stocked behind the bar. These neat books, available to peruse at Lobo (or buy), are mocked up to look like authentic journals, complete with typewriter type face and suggested cocktail recipes. Rums are divided into regions and each is given a description, a back story, and fun tasting notes from the team – Dos Maderas ($18 a shot) tastes of ‘Grandma’s cooking’ while the $14 per shot Wray & Nephew ‘smells like rum and banana heaven and tastes like a good night out’. Creation of the Journal was a labour of love by the whole team, a process that took a year to complete but now serves as a huge asset to the overall experience of drinking at Lobo. “Before we made the Journal, people simply had a list of rums with prices, with nothing to distinguish them but the dollar,” explains Merlino. “We wanted to create a guide to help customers explore the range and find what they’re looking for. Of course the staff can help them do that, but it’s nice to have it all in a book.” To further enhance the experience, Lobo offers rum flights to take customers on

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an hour’s tour of a region via six different rums – with a break for some Caribbean tapas that serve as the bar’s food offering – before concluding with a cocktail inspired by the tastes of the area. “We had so many people asking to book Lobo for events or parties and we were very resistant – we didn’t want to create a feeling of exclusivity for anyone,” says Merlino. “We developed the rum flights as a compromise, as a way for people to have a booked experience without alienating our other customers.” Various flights are listed in the Journal but can be personalised to cater to a customer’s interests. Prices start at $60 per person and are dependent on the chosen tipples. For those with the cash to spend, the top end ‘High Roller’s Private Jet’ flight ($399) is a journey encompassing six rums from the exclusive cabinet, including the Appleton 50. Fork out $1,599 and the rums can be followed by a Daiquiri shaken up with a shot from one of the few remaining bottles of rum from the original Bacardi distillery in the 1930s. “You get to taste it just how Lobo would’ve done,” says Merlino. Rum flights are on the radar of James Connolly at The Angel’s Cut too, and he plans to introduce them in the coming year to supplement the ‘rum of the month’ promotion that flags interesting drinks and softly encourages customers to taste something different without being overbearing. “We are in the CBD of Perth so it can be quite corporate, but we tried to create an environment

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where all are welcome,” explains Connolly. “We also try not to take ourselves too seriously and let the rum do the talking.”

STAFF AND KNOWLEDGE That said, today’s customers are demanding more information, so staff must be in the know if the whole project is to be delivered to its full potential. “At interviews our first question is always, ‘Do you like rum?’ If not, there is just no point,” says Merlino with a shrug. “We have a great team in place now – everyone is so excited by rum and they are all so knowledgeable. Customers can ask anyone about any rum and they will be able to tell them about it.” As interest grows around drinks and their back stories, a bar that fails to deliver a firm knowledge base will flounder. “Staff education is a big thing” stresses Connolly at The Angel’s Cut. “All team members get to taste any new products that come in or that we are currently featuring and when any brand ambassadors are in town we always get them to swing by and talk rum for an hour.” Merlino also places importance on visiting the suppliers and the distillers in the Caribbean to remind himself, as co-owner, of the environment Lobo seeks to evoke, and to seek out new drinks to further enhance the collection. “There is nothing like drinking rum in the Caribbean,” he says. “And it’s a pretty good place for a holiday.”

KEEP PUSHING ON When crafting a rum experience, it is easy to get lost in décor and glassware, choosing style over substance and becoming complacent once the place looks and feels as it should – with staff, product and gimmicks in place. However, stagnation is the small, immersive bar’s biggest enemy. While the chosen era for the rum experience is likely to be locked in the past, a bar needs to be pushing on and evolving, expanding the rum range, exploring new ideas and providing customers with a reason to return for more than just a cool environment and a changing cocktail menu. “We are always expanding our rum range,” says Connolly of The Angel’s Cut. “Especially when we find something good.” The bar also runs regular promotions and pairs different drinks with food options to attract return visits. Many other establishments are jumping on Lobo’s bandwagon and crafting journals of their own, with tasting sessions or ‘flights’ becoming the next big thing. At Lobo, Merlino and co-owners Eddie Levy and Michael Hwang will be developing the experience further in the coming year, riding the interesting changes the industry is currently weathering and taking Lobo’s successful formula out to other locations. “We have loads of ideas,” says Merlino. “But at the end of the day it comes back to the customer. We are trying to see what works, what they like, and keep doing that.” b&c

SUGAR AND SPICE Lobo Plantation’s bar manager Dre Walters picks four of his favourite drinks from his cocktail list.

SHIPWRECK Invented by Julius Yates from Lobo Plantation. Glass: Pilsner Ingredients: • 30ml Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum • 45ml pineapple and grapefruit juice • 20ml spiced pineapple syrup • 15ml passion fruit puree • 30ml fresh lemon juice • 15ml float Old J Tiki Fire Spiced Rum Method: Add all the ingredients (except the Old J) to a shaker and shake well with ice. Serve strained over fresh ice, with a drizzle of Old J on the top. Garnish: Pirate flag skewering a cherry and a slice of orange, topped with pineapple leaves. Comment: A fresh, vibrant, and very approachable tiki drink. If the classic Zombie cocktail had a child, this would probably be it.


BANANA COLADA OLD FASHIONED A twist on a Pina Colada and an Old Fashioned. Glass: Rocks Ingredients: • 60ml Lobo’s fat-washed coconut rum • 30ml Lobo’s house-made banana vermouth • Dash of pimento bitters • Dash of fig and cinnamon bitters Method: Add all the ingredients together in a glass. Garnish: Twist of lime Comment: Twisting two classic drinks together and turning them on their head.


A twist on a Navy Grog. Glass: Rocks Ingredients: • 45ml El Dorado Spiced Rum • 15ml fresh lemon juice • 15ml Gomme • 30ml Lobo’s house made stout vermouth Method: Add all the ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain and serve with fresh ice. Garnish: Lemon twist and flamed cinnamon stick. Comment: The key to this drink is the stout vermouth and the flamed cinnamon stick – the vermouth makes the drink and the cinnamon provides an outstanding ‘nose’.


CABLE CAR Created in 1996 by Tony Abou-Gamin in San Francisco. Glass: Coupe Ingredients: • 45ml Old J Spiced Rum • 15ml Cointreau • 30ml fresh lemon juice • 10ml Gomme • Dash of egg white Method: Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake hard with ice. Double strain to serve. Garnish: A twist of lemon. Comment: A great adaptation of a modern classic, using a spiced rum to completely change the drink. It tastes like an unadulterated donut. Old J is completely different to any other spiced rum and reminds us of the old recipe for Sailor Jerry’s.


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d e c i p s r u Know yo

RUMS The popularity of and interest in spiced rums is rising – but do you know what your customers are looking for? Here are eight of the top brands to have on the bar and on your radar.


hile rum as a category continues to enjoy buoyancy and attract customers, the hot area is spiced rum and the statistics are staggering: a 378 per cent rise in spiced rum sales in the two years from March 2012-14, albeit from a low starting point (Aztec; Total Australian OffPremise; MAT to 6.4.14). Top bartenders put the spike in popularity down to the accessibility of spiced rums. They are, essentially, a rum enhanced with flavourings such as cinnamon, vanilla and ginger to make the drink more palatable and are, as such, seen as an entry point into the diverse selection found in the nonspiced range. There is much to be enjoyed in the spiced rum category and the rise in popularity has served to attract more unusual and interesting spiced concoctions to Australian shores. One such provider of a noteworthy rum range – and indeed the owner of the country’s largest rum bar – is Mark ‘Dr Rum’ Wyatt, a Brit who offers 450 rums at the Fish D’Vine Cafe and Rum Bar in Airlie Beach. As one of the country’s leading authorities on rum, we invited Dr. Rum to help craft our list of the top spiced rums to watch out for in 2015. “Spiced rums have a broad spectrum appeal and are a great introduction to the rum category as, essentially, they magnify

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the subtleties already present in good quality rum,” Mark says. “In the past, most people's introduction to rum was either light white or a much heavier style, while now the trend is the more accessible profile of spiced. With more great quality spiced available it is by no means limited to rookies – even the most seasoned among us have a bottle in the house.” Name: The Kraken Black Spiced Rum ABV: 40% Origin: USA/Caribbean Supplier: Think Spirits The story: This drink takes its name from the mysterious sea beastie that haunted nightmares of sailors, with the rum credited as being “dark and mysterious like the beast itself”. The flavour: Expect a bold combination of liquorice, cinnamon and black cherry lurking within the molasses-type richness of the rum. Perfect for: While the producers suggest ginger ale or cola to lighten the rum, be bold and mix the spicy dark stuff with some hot apple cider and sticks of cinnamon. Dr Rum says: Good packaging and a bold move to introduce an older-syle dark rum to the market at the time. Can be used in a twist on the original Dark and Stormy. We have also had some success with it in flips: one recipe with eggs, cream and stout worked well.


Name: Stolen Spiced ABV: 37.5% Origin: Trinidad and Tobago Supplier: Stolen Rum The story: This NZ-produced rum was inspired by Coffee and Cigarettes, a series of short films by Jim Jarmusch. It is the first product to blend Caribbean rum with roasted coffee beans and tobacco flavours. The flavour: While the smell is of toffee, the taste is a darker, richer combination of smoke, coffee and butterscotch. Perfect for: A splash of lemonade and a wedge of lemon, as the complexity of the blend needs little adornment. Dr Rum says: An unusual mix of flavours for a modern palate. Strong coffee and tobacco smoke remind me of a morning fix on a rainy day in a Roman transport cafe. Patrons have a love-it or hate-it relationship with this interesting rum. Don't muck about and go neat, with an espresso sweetened with orgeat. Name: Barcardi Oakheart ABV: 35% Origin: Puerto Rico Supplier: Bacardi The story: Launched in 2011, the name is linked to the oak barrels used to age some of the blended rums and was picked in a two-year process that involved thousands of consumers’ and bartenders’ input. The flavour: Heavily charred oak barrels give this rum its intense smoky flavour, with a sweetness courtesy of vanilla and caramel. Perfect for: Make a dessert and a drink all in one by adding chocolate milk and Chambord to this spicy spirit. Dr Rum says: A well-flavoured spirit and popular mixer. With the well-heeled, professional team at Bacardi behind it, this rum is doing very well. The nutmeg works when mixed in cream of coconut drinks, and when it comes to the festive season we use it in our eggnog. Name: El Dorado Spiced ABV: 40% Origin: Guyana Supplier: Quittin' Time The story: This spiced version of ‘The Golden One’ (El Dorado) is made from a unique blend of Demerara rums enhanced with spices such as cinnamon, vanilla and citrus. The flavour: A mellow, smooth taste with the brown sugar melting into flavours of

cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and orange peel with a strong note of vanilla. Perfect for: Drink it neat to enjoy a lingering spicy kick or calm it down with cola. Dr Rum says: Demerara distillers in Guyana do a wonderful job of making rum and this is no exception. The rum is first aged for a minimum of five years – unusual for spiced rum – and then the spices are added to complement the notes from barrel age. It has an integrity that facilitates enjoyment drunk neat or on the rocks, but also offers great versatility as a mixer. We recommend it for a rum twist on the Espresso Martini. Name: Lamb’s Spiced ABV: 30% Origin: Jamaica Supplier: Think Spirits The story: This rum blend was inspired by a recipe recorded in a journal of British adventurer Alfred Lamb from his ‘lost years’ in the Caribbean and was dedicated to a mysterious woman. The flavour: Sweetly spiced and smooth, this drink leaves hints of caramel and cinnamon on the tongue as it passes over and is a ‘softer’ rum taste than others on the market. Perfect for: Due to its subtlety, Lamb’s Rum is best as a long drink, with the signature Chilled Gecko (Lamb’s Spiced, apple juice, lemon wedges) a refreshing concoction. Dr Rum says: Like a ginger snap biscuit, sweet with a low ABV. The flavour is not what I had expected from the traditional navy rum company in the UK. It has a use as a sweetener in cocktails, with a little heat from the ginger. When the nights turn in and the wind blows cold here in the tropics, a rum twist on the hot toddy is the go, or a hot buttered rum. Name: Ron de Jeremy Spiced ABV: 35% Origin: Panama Supplier: Challenger Beverages The story: Named after Ron ‘the Hedgehog’ Jeremy, one of the world’s most famous porn stars, the spiced version of the classic rum is made by legendary rum maker Don Pancho Fernandez. The flavour: This rum unloads rich spicy smells and an intense buttery taste with a spicy mix of cloves, allspice, nutmeg and vanilla. Perfect for: With its mild spiciness, this rum works well with cola or over coconut drinks, but is more interesting when dashed with a twist of orange and iced up.

Dr Rum says: This offering is well-suited to the modern Australian marketplace. With upfront vanilla and popular spice such as cinnamon softened by sweet caramel, it is very palatable. Couple this with 35% ABV and this spirit is easy on the tongue when on the rocks or neat. Although the spice is very prevalent, you can still detect the quality Panama rum. With a very distinct, popular marketing campaign and Ron Jeremy behind it, I am sure it will perform well. Use it in a classic Navy Grog. Name: Brinley Gold Shipwreck ABV: 36% Origin: St Kitts Supplier: Quittin' Time The story: The Brinley family have been making rum in St Kitts since 2002, with their spiced version launched three years ago and dedicated to a British troop ship that sank off the coast of the Brinley’s island home in 1782. The flavour: A sip will deliver a big kick of flavour, the smooth rum hinting at notes of cinnamon, sweet vanilla and orange with a sweetness that will linger. Perfect for: Avoid drowning the flavour with cola – enjoy over ice or bring out its assorted flavours with lime or lemon sours or fruit juice. Dr Rum says: The building blocks of this Spiced Rum are from a great house (Demerara distillers, Guyana) and then Brinley Gold go on to do an even better job of adding spices. The sweeter note is just right and all the spices are in balance. This really is an all-round crowd pleaser. It can be drunk neat or on the rocks, but also stands its ground in any mixer or cocktail. Name: Cubaney Spiced ABV: 34% Origin: Dominican Republic Supplier: La Rumbla The story: Originally produced by one of the most renowned rum-making families in Cuba, production dating back to 1868 was halted when the family fled during the revolution. In the 1980s, the grandson rediscovered the recipe and rum-making recommenced. The flavour: This light Spanish-style rum – and a soft hand with cinnamon, clove, vanilla, anise and pepper – produce a mature and sophisticated spiced beverage. Perfect for: Lends itself to cocktails but is equally tasty neat. If mixing, try a classic Daiquiri. Dr Rum says: Justin ‘The Baron’ Boseley, working closely with Oliver and Oliver Rums, developed this blend of 3, 8 and 15-year Cubaney Solera Rums, from the Dominican Republic, specifically for the Australian bar scene; I even got my 10 cents in!

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The United States is recognised as the modern spiritual home of craft brewing, and home to more than a few cracking breweries. Time Out Australia’s Travel Editor and craft beer enthusiast James Wilkinson delves into 12 of the best.



Juneau, Alaska Keep an eye out for the big white bear beer tap – that’s one of the six regular beers produced by the team at the Alaskan Brewing Company. The Alaskan White is perhaps one of the finest American witbiers produced and stands tall alongside the flagship Amber, dry hopped India Pale Ale, rich Stout and green American Pale ale. Also look out for the Hypothermia a double IPA styled brew the brewers say is “like a massive grizzly bear in winter”. And expect 18 further seasonal and limited edition drops. Ones to watch for include a Double Black IPA, Alaskan Birch Bock, Alaskan Imperial Red Ale, Pumpkin Porter, Troppelbock and the fiery Jalapeno Imperial IPA. The annual spring release is another one to keep on the radar – this year it was a cracker of an Extra Special Bitter.

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Portland, Maine Any half decent craft beer bar in America is going to have the Allagash White on tap, or, at very the least, in a bottle. This brilliant Maine version of a Belgian Wheat is loaded with a refined blend of coriander and curacao orange peel that goes down incredibly smoothly. It’s not the only standout this East Coast producer cooks up though; also try and get your hands on their fullbodied saison crafted with Tettnang, Bravo and Cascade hops; and their speciality beers, including the Grand Cru, a full-blown winter beer that features peated malt and spiced up with coriander, sweet orange peel and anise. The limited edition range is also worth a look.



Kansas City, Missouri Perhaps the biggest star right now in the US craft beer scene, Boulevard has been cranking out top quality brews since 1989. The Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale carries legendary status across the United States, thanks to its grapefruit-led fruit nose and its spicy, yet dry finish. The seasonal Irish Ale, with six roasted barley and pale malts, is also a star when you can find it, while the 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat, a hybrid IPA and Wheat Beer, is great in a bottle, but is best when found on draught. Other drops in the range include the full-bodied and bittersweet Long Strange Tripel, the KC Pils and the Bully Porter.



Breckenridge, Colorado They call them mainline beers, but there’s something not quite mainstream about Breckenridge’s regular line-up. There’s an Agave Wheat, Vanilla Porter, Oatmeal Stout, a Lucky-U-IPA and an Avalanche Ale. If you happen to be in Breckenridge skiing and uncover this gem of a producer, start with the Avalanche, brewed to be Amber Ale-style with a fresh bittersweet flavour, and then go straight for the Agave Wheat, a brilliant infusion of agave nectar into an unfiltered wheat ale. The seasonal brews are also stand-outs, especially the Ophelia Hoppy Wheat and the Christmas Ale, a full-bodied strong ale that oozes chocolate and caramel notes. Also expect some barrel-aged gems.



San Diego, California A familiar ‘fish’ on Australian shores, Ballast Point’s Big Eye IPA can be found in bottle shops nationwide – but it’s not the big kahuna from this brilliant San Diego brewery. The classic Longfin Lager is a popular California favourite, as is the Wahoo White and the original Pale Ale that kick-started the company in 1996. However, it’s their seasonal brews – especially the Habanero Sculpin IPA that packs a big peppery punch, the big hoppy Dorado Double IPA and the Madras curry-boosted Indra Kunindra Curry Export Stout – that create the most growler attention at the brewery. Also, don’t skip past the Piper Down Scottish Ale or the Tongue Buckler Imperial Red Ale as these are two of the top reds in the USA. In recent years, Ballast Point has been distilling some top shelf spirits and they also make a kick-ass Bloody Mary mix.



Bend, Oregon We’ve been teased with the best of Deschutes on Australian shores thanks to the team at the Local Taphouse who’ve had special events in their pubs. And if you missed them, you missed an opportunity to knock back some of the finest Ales, Pilsners, Stouts, Sours and Porters available in the Pacific Northwest. They have nine year-round beers – highlighted by the Chainbreaker White IPA, Cinder Cone Red, Deschutes River Ale and Pine Mountain Pilsner – alongside a range of seasonal ales, reserves and collaborations. It’s the latter that you want to get your hands on. A recent collaboration was with the team from Goose Island, where a Class of ’88 Belgian style Ale was created. The beer featured Michigan Riesling and Oregon Pinot Noir grapes aged, with whole cone hops and Pilsner malt, in muscat casks.

ALSO KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR… • Avery (Colorado) • Bear Republic (California) • Cigar City (Florida) • Elevation (Colorado) • Fountain Square (Indiana) • Karl Strauss (California) • Martin House (Texas) • Mission (California) • Modern Times (California) • Prairie (Oklahoma) • Russian River (California) • Societe (California) • Stone (California) • Unita (Utah)

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Brooklyn, New York The good folk at Brooklyn Brewery have been sending their infamous Lager down to Australian shores, including bottles, cans and more recently on draught. That was followed by their Sorachi Ace strong Farmhouse Saison, which has been standing tall on draught at a range of craft pubs, including Melbourne’s Gertrude Hotel. What we need more of in Australia is their other drops, including the East IPA, Pilsner and 1/2 Ale from their perennial range, and seasonals, particularly their Winter Ale, Summer Ale and Black Chocolate Stout. When you visit the brewery in hip Williamsburg, make a beeline for the Brewmaster’s Reserve range and if it’s available (they change every four months), sneak a taste of the Cuvée La Boîte.




Chicago, Illinois Wind the clock back to 1992 and Goose Island started producing bourbon-aged beer – but only in barrels that had whiskey in them for an average of eight years – and it’s something the company still does today, best seen in its Bourbon County Stout and Bourbon County Vanilla Rye. Their 312 Urban Wheat Ale and 312 Urban Pale Ale honour the brewery’s roots in Chicago (312 is the city’s area code) and feature an old-school telephone handle as its tap. The Sophie is a Belgian-style Farmhouse Ale that’s been wine barrel aged and is one of seven brilliant vintage ales Goose Island produces. All-up, expect around 54 beers annually.



Fort Worth, Texas A rising star in Texas and the American Midwest, Martin House’s dozen annual beers (six regular and six seasonal) have been creating significant attention over the last couple of years for fresh, full-flavoured brews that are refreshing to drink and don’t top the alcohol scales. Right now, Texans are taking to Martin House’s River House Saison, a brew that’s well-balanced with floral and citrus notes. Also look out for Day Break, a “four grain breakfast beer that was modelled after a bowl of cereal”, according to brewer Cody Martin. “It’s made with barley, wheat, oats and rye, and is finished with local honey and milk sugar,” he says. “The large quantities of honey and specialty grains enable this low-alcohol refresher to provide a unique taste that’s like a sunrise in your mouth.” The Pretzel Stout and Cellarman’s Reserve IPA are also worth seeking out.


Cooperstown, New York The Ommegang Hennepin Farmhouse Saison is a prime example of how American craft brewers continue to produce their own unique takes on classic beer styles without destroying the heritage from which they were built. This beer is full-bodied yet crisp, and spicy yet refreshing. Other standouts include the Gnomegang Blonde Ale (a collaboration with the Belgian Brasserie D’Achouffe, brewers of the famed La Chouffe Biere Blonde), the Rare Vos Amber Ale, the Witte Wheat Ale, Three Philosophers Quadrupel Ale and the Hope House Belgian-style Pale Ale. Annually, expect a few limited edition brews from this New York state brewery that continues to attract attention for good reason.



Fort Worth, Texas Rarely will you see Rahr’s beers outside the state of Texas. This brewery’s popularity has been skyrocketing over the last four years and unfortunately for Australia, it’s showing no signs of abating. Each year expect around 20 brews from Rahr, including the ever-popular Texas Red, Ugly Pug Dark Lager, Buffalo Butt Amber Lager, Stormcloud IPA and Rahr’s Blonde. In the seasonal range, the Snowmageddon Oatmeal Stout pays tribute to the great brewery roof collapse of 2010 (as depicted on the label), while the La Grange Farmhouse Ale – with Saaz-hop driven aromas of toasted fruit – is an exceptional example of the American Saison-style that’s roaring across the country. The Pecker Wrecker Imperial Pilsner is also a winner.

This article was originally published in Beer & Brewer Magazine.



Indianapolis, Indiana The Sun King team says they have produced 173 different beers in their history, which isn’t bad at all for a small Indianapolis producer. Their three regular beers – Sunlight Cream Ale, Wee Mac Scottish-style Ale and Osiris Pale Ale – introduced many Midwest drinkers to their brewery and once they got a taste, they uncovered top reserve, seasonal and speciality drops. On the seasonal list, things get quirky, with releases like the Popcorn Pilsner, which has Indiana-grown Riehle’s Select Popcorn added to their Germanstyle Pilsner recipe. Then there’s the Cream Dream Series, a range of large, hop-centric American IPAs based on the malt profile of their Cream Ale.

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White Oak is a single cask whisky matured in a virgin 50 litre American oak cask. The result has all the hallmarks of the premium single cask Nant Highland Single Malts but with an added oak-inspired boldness, enabling an extra layer of balanced creamy sweetness not yet seen in the classic Nant range. Layered with complexity, on the nose White Oak is sweet with a strong essence of oak, finishing with a touch of leather and polish. Distributed by: Nant Distillery 1800 SINGLE MALT (746 453)

since the early 1900s. Each bottle remains hand filled and sealed on site, ensuring a single-estate process from potato to bottle. To make Marmalade Vodka, the spirit is marinated with a bespoke Seville orange fine marmalade in the Chase alembic copper pot still; Ginny. The resultant spirit is then further distilled in the world’s tallest rectification column with the vapours passing through fresh Valencian and Sevillian orange peel, creating a beautifully bittersweet orange experience. Distributed by: Red Island Group 1300 673 362

MARMALADE 2CHASE VODKA 3F.A.Q LEMON Based in rural Herefordshire, Chase Vodka is the world's first super premium English potato vodka (World’s Best Vodka at the 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition), distilled using organically grown potatoes. These are mashed, fermented, stripped and distilled, using traditional methods not changed

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A fruit driven, clean and refreshing liqueur, F.A.Q has the distinct taste of freshly squeezed lemons. Containing a minimum of 45 per cent lemon juice and at only 9.6% ABV, F.A.Q Lemon is made entirely from natural ingredients with no preservatives, no artificial colours and no artificial flavours. F.A.Q Lemon also matures very gently – this maturing

process displays via slight darkening of the colour over time, as well as the fruit acids mellowing slightly as it ages. F.A.Q Lemon represents a new generation of alcoholic beverages with its low-alcohol, fruit juice based, allnatural philosophy. The liqueur works well as both a palate cleanser and a mixer, or simply enjoyed on its own. Distributed by: Kestrel Industries 0425 422 754



The first release from the West Australian-based Hippocampus Metropolitan Distillery is a locally produced vodka. Passionate about small batch or craft spirits made using Australian-sourced ingredients, the distillery has used local biodynamic farmed wheat. Fermented in small tanks using an organic yeast and then distilled in a custom-made copper pot still, the result is a clean and textured vodka. Flavours of vanilla and fruit shine through with a super smooth mouthfeel from distilling a

select number of times – enough to ensure the soft sweet flavour of the wheat is embraced but not so much that it strips away texture. Hippocampus Vodka is made to be enjoyed neat, as a base in cocktails or as an accompaniment to your favourite mixer. Distributed by: Memorable Drinks 0418 456 926


Celebrating its 153rd anniversary, Bacardí rum is releasing the first packaging update in more than a decade. Heavily influenced by the Art Deco style, the new bottle design reflects the brand’s heritage and provenance. Designed in consultation with some of the world’s leading bartenders, it has been created to ensure the bottle is well-balanced in order to produce the perfect pour. The label features hand-cut fonts inspired by those adorning the Art Deco El Edificio Bacardí, the brand’s former sales office and iconic bar in Havana, Cuba, and all the paper labels are



made from recycled cane fibre, a byproduct of rum making. The new pack will hit Australian bars in time for the Global Legacy Final in May 2015. Distributed by: Bacardi Lion 13 15 13

6ANGOSTURA NO.1 RUM Voted the Caribbean’s best rum,

Angostura Rum No.1 is now available across Australia. Out of the 180 rums tasted, Angostura No.1 was named Rum of the Year for 2014 by the Rum Journal Awards, now in its third year. Part of a release of just 9,600 bottles, this is a Trinidadian rum finished exclusively in first-fill American bourbon casks. Angostura No.1 is the first rum in a new limited-edition premium range aged in special casks, aptly named, The Cask Collection. Bottled at 40%, No. 1 is smooth and well-rounded with a lasting array of woody notes reminiscent of dry, warm nights in the Caribbean islands. Distributed by: island2island (02) 9672 6440


8 STOCKMAN’S RIDGE 7 RIDER SAVAGNIN (2013) In the last two years, Stockman’s Ridge has successfully completed a move from the slopes of Bathurst to the growing cool climate region of Orange. With eight further hectares of vines and three hectares of orchard, the brand is certainly expanding. The 2013 Savagnin is from the Bathurst vineyard, which is situated at an elevation of 900 metres. Light yellow in colour, the nose has honeydew and citrus with hints of kiwi and blood orange, while the palate is rich and buttery. It won Gold at the Rutherglen Wine Show in 2014. Distributed by: Stockman’s Ridge (02) 6365 6212


Alaskan Rock Vodka is a Sydneybased artisan vodka, handcrafted at Lark Distillery in Tasmania. Alaskan Rock has been created using maltedbarley, delivering a perfectly crisp


neutral spirit flavour, designed for sipping. Every detail has been planned, from the distilling process to the bottle itself. Every bottle is hand numbered, and none of the two kilogram bottles are ever exactly alike. Alaskan Rock is only new onto the market but has already won the inaugural Australian Distilled Spirits competition in 2014 for best plain vodka. As sipping vodka, it is recommended that Alaskan Rock is enjoyed straight from the freezer, cold and neat. Distributed by: Alaskan Rock


The grapes picked for this Touriga were chosen from one of the older vine blocks of Hanwood Estate. Traditionally the fruit has been used for the production of fortified wines – for which McWilliam’s Wines has always been known. This is the first time the vines have been used to create a dry red table wine, delivering a naturally low crop of small, intensely

flavoured berries. The wine has a dominating juicy berry flavour, which gives freshness and a supple, Pinot-like mid-palate. A mediumbodied wine that is savoury and long supported by well-rounded tannins. Partners well with food. Distributed by: McWilliam’s Wines (02) 9722 1200


The history of Bols Genevers dates back to 1575, the year in which the Bols family established its distillery in Amsterdam. Bols distilled a variety of liqueurs while the first Bols Genever was produced in 1664. Bols Genever is a perfect cocktail mixer with its blend of more than 50 per cent maltwine, redistilled botanicals, and an alcohol content of 42 per cent. Botanicals include juniper berry, angelica, ginger and coriander; while genever is required to contain juniper berry, Bols does not have a dominant juniper taste. Distributed by: CCA 132 653

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DAINTON BREWING & THE EVERLEIGH BAR MANHATTAN ALE – 6.9% ABV Melbourne cocktail bar, The Everleigh, has collaborated with Dainton Brewing to launch Manhattan Ale, a beer that bridges the gap between classic cocktails and craft beer. A rich ale of malted rye and spicy Noble hops, Manhattan Ale is aged in Tasmanian whisky barrels and French oak Shiraz casks. The beer is directly inspired by the classic Manhattan cocktail and is the first in a planned series of cocktail inspired beers. Distributed by: Northdown Craft Beer Movement 0432 829 921

STRANGELOVE ORGANIC ELIXIR SMOKED COLA Back when backwoods were backwoods – and dental hygiene was a thing of the future – the humble cola reigned supreme. In tribute, StrangeLove muddled Madagascan vanilla pods, nutmeg and cinnamon quills to create a cola worthy of any dusty lab this side of Tennessee. And then they smoked it. Because anything in life worth doing, is worth doing smoked. Also available in the range: Ginger Beer, Blood Orange & Chilli, and Bitter Grapefruit. Distributed By: StrangeLove Vitamin Co 0431 050 114

4 PINES KELLER DOOR CITRUS IPA – 7.0% ABV After a slight break in its limited release program 4 Pines is back on deck with a highly hopped IPA as its new offering, extending the limit-pushing that began with the Imperial India Brown Ale. With an aggressive but balanced bitterness and a mouthpuckering hint of citrus zestiness, the full-body and hop aromas are enhanced by the subtle addition of fresh, in-season blood orange, grapefruit and lime. Available in 500mL bottles. Distributed by: 4 Pines Brewing

EPIC IMP SESSION IPA – 4.7% ABV Well-known for its Kiwi spin on hugely hoppy beers, Epic has brewed a session IPA. The IMP has a low alcohol level for the style but is generously dry hopped like a traditional IPA. The beer has an aroma of ripe summer stone fruit and citrus, with a palate of fruity citrus that is backed up by a solid malty body and finishes with a sharp, brief bitterness. Distributed by: Better Beer Imports 0421 203 386

JIM BEAM DEVIL’S CUT & COLA – 9.0% ABV When bourbon is taken from the barrel, a certain amount is left trapped within the wood. It’s this liquid, and the rich flavours derived from the charred oak of the barrel that become the “Devil’s Cut”. This new RTD is the only premium brand offering in the super high ABV category. Packaged in a 250ml can, with 1.8 standard drinks per serve, it has well-rounded vanillas and a dry finish. Distributed by: Beam Suntory

MURRAY’S CRAFT BREWING CO FRED IPA – 5.6% ABV Available in long neck bottles, Fred IPA is aggressively late hopped with a house blend of hops from the US Pacific Northwest. It has the classic USA IPA hop aroma and flavour of big citrus, tropical fruit and pine notes throughout. An assertive bitterness is balanced by the sweetness of the pale crystal and wheat malt additions. A hopped up brew to be best enjoyed with smoky and spicy southern US-style Mexican food. Distributed by: Murray’s Craft Brewing Co (02) 4982 6411

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Empire of Dreams


Created by: Fred Siggins, Black Pearl

Glass: Vintage Coupe Ingredients: • 50mL Bacardi Superior rum • 30mL fresh pineapple juice • 10mL apricot brandy • 10mL fresh lime juice • 5mL orgeat (almond syrup) • 15mL whole espresso beans Method: Shake hard and strain finely. Serve straight-up Garnish: A big twist of lime peel Comment: The Empire of Dreams won Australia’s Bacardi Legacy 2014 competition. Bacardi Legacy sets out to discover the next Legacy Cocktail – in other words, a drink destined to become a classic. Fred says, “I just set out to make drinks that will represent myself, my bar and my city well. If it stands the test of time, that’s a massive bonus. We’d all love our drinks to end up as classics but I think it’s a very hard thing to predict.”


he Bacardí Legacy Cocktail Competition has quickly established itself as one of the most important cocktail competitions in the world. In September 2014, in recognition of the increasing influence of the Australian bar scene on a global scale, it was announced that the next Bacardí Legacy Global Final is to be held in Sydney in May 2015. With nearly 40 countries competing, it will be the biggest Legacy event yet. Before that, five Australian bartenders will compete in the national final, which takes place in Melbourne in March. The five ‘Most Promising’ finalists are: Christian Blair from Rockpool Bar and Grill, Sydney, NSW; James Connolly from The Angels Cut, Perth, WA; Joe Sinagra from Bobeche, Perth, WA; Sarah Fulford from Lily Blacks, Melbourne, VIC; and Alissa Gabriel from The Press Club, Brisbane, QLD.

bars&clubs 43


Bars & Clubs January - February 2015  

Now in its 12th year of publication, Bars & Clubs has become a showcase of what the industry has to offer, covering the current trends, idea...

Bars & Clubs January - February 2015  

Now in its 12th year of publication, Bars & Clubs has become a showcase of what the industry has to offer, covering the current trends, idea...