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SUMMER 2018/19



Pirate or premium?


Get your guests ‘gramming


The question of Seedlip

WHISKY Innovation vs tradition: where do you stand?

P L U S : A L I A 2 0 1 8 – N E I PA : W H AT ’ S T H E H Y P E A L L A B O U T ? – W H I T E S P I R I T S

Becherovka Liqueur ~

first drinks


“Awards are always contentious, but whether you agree with the final selection of winners this year or not, what’s important is that it

sparks a discussion” @BARSANDCLUBSMAGAZINE



As I write this, the dust has well and truly settled on another spectacular ALIA. Awards are always contentious, and whether you agree with the final selection of winners this year or not, what’s important is that it sparks a discussion. From the east coast to west, the newest bar to the usual suspects, we like to think that our process is a rigorous one, revealing a deserving list of winners voted on by the industry, for the industry. To all the winners, congratulations! Few would argue that you don’t deserve the praise; from the Best New Bar to the Bartender of the Year, this year’s honour roll is a glittering one. And if you haven’t been before, I strongly suggest attending the liquor industry’s night of nights next year. It’s not to be missed. Now, on to the mag – hopefully you find the time to sit down with this issue before the silly season ramps up. If you can squeeze it in, I promise that you’ll be rewarded – there’s plenty to sink your teeth into, from whisky to rum, no-alcohol drinks to juicy IPAs, and more. Either way, fingers crossed you all get the chance to spend at least a little bit of downtime with your family and friends once it all quietens down again in January. Finally, please keep the feedback flowing. As we look toward 2019, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the year that’s been – what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what you’d like to see more of. After all, this is your mag, so make it work for you. See you next year! Tam Allenby Editor





Jacqui Cooper

Shane T Williams

PUBLISHED BY The Intermedia Group Pty Ltd


ABN 940 025 83 682

EDITOR Tam Allenby

Andrea Diaz

41 Bridge Road, GLEBE,

NSW Australia, 2037

PHOTOGRAPHER Reece McMillan: White Spirits

Ryan Vizcarra




Telephone: (02) 9660 2113 Fax: (02) 9660 1883


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SUMMER 2018 Features 20 ALIA All the action from the party of the year: the Australia Liquor Industry Awards 2018.

24 WHISK(E)Y Sophie Smith investigates the tension between tradition and innovation in the category.



Charlie Whitting chats to some of the country’s top bartenders about their exciting summer menus.

32 RUM Rum expert Tom Bulmer addresses the growing premiumisation of liquor’s most laidback segment.

36 SEEDLIP Kit Kriewaldt reveals how bartenders are taking to the non-alcohol spirit in surprising, innovative ways.

40 NEW ENGLAND IPA What’s all the fuss about this hazy, juicy beer? Luke Robertson finds out.

Regulars 6 NEWS




What you need to know.

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

11 NEW FACES Keep an eye on these up-and-comers.

12 INSPIRATION Inside the beating heart of Australian distilling, a chat with Jacob Briars, and some insights from two of the Japanese bar scene’s leading lights.


18 CATEGORY SPOTLIGHT This time, it’s all about white spirits.




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) 2018 - THE INTERMEDIA GROUP PTY LTD.

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Australia’s very own Orlando Marzo, from acclaimed Melbourne restaurant Lûmé, was recently named the world’s best bartender at Diageo World Class in Berlin – the biggest bartending competition on the planet. Marzo beat more than 10,000 bartenders from every corner of the globe in a competition that spanned five continents, six months, hundreds of challenges and countless cocktails to be crowned World Class Global Bartender of the Year 2018. Marzo is only the second Australian to triumph in the competition, following in the footsteps of Bulletin Place’s Tim Philips who won in 2012. “I can’t believe it!” Marzo said upon winning. “Just being here, competing alongside the best bartenders in the world, judged by some of the most iconic names in the business was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but to actually win? I’m still in shock. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my amazing team back home – they’ve cheered me on every step of the way!” The World Class judges were blown away by Marzo’s winning cocktails. Armed with Diageo’s Reserve brands, Marzo took sustainable bartending further than ever before in the Ketel One ‘Better Drinking’ challenge, and reigned supreme in the ‘Flavours of a Nation’ round with his innovative twist on the classic Johnnie Walker Black Label Highball. He sealed the deal in the Grand Finale, bringing the house down with one show-stopping creation after another. “All the finalists brought their A game, but Orlando really was on another level,” said Diageo ‘Global Cocktailian’ and judge Lauren Mote.

STARWARD TWO-FOLD Starward has released its newest whisky, TwoFold, entirely matured in Australian wine barrels and made using Australian wheat and malted barley. The result is an approachable, every-day whisky, providing bartenders the means to affordably mix and create premium cocktails using an Australian product.

6 BARS&clubs

FAIR’S FAIR Vincent Valliere, from Pelicano in Sydney, recently took out the Australian leg of the FAIR. Global Ethical Cocktail Competition with his cocktail ‘Bananodrama’. Valliere won a trip to Bolivia, where he will be joined by the other international winners for a once-in-a-lifetime, off the beaten track experience.

ALIA 2018 WINNERS REVEALED The 25th annual Australian Liquor Industry Awards (ALIA) were held at Randwick Racecourse in late October, celebrating the high achievers from both the on- and off-premise liquor industry. The major award winners on the night from the bar world were Natalie Ng, who took home Bartender of the Year; The Barber Shop, which was named Bar of the Year; Speakeasy Group, which was named Bar Group Operator of the Year, and Vanguard Luxury Brands, the OnPremise Supplier of the Year. Other on-premise awards included Best New Bar – which went to Tiny’s in Perth – Best New Venue or Concept, taken home by the Duke of Clarence, Bar Team of the Year, which went to The Gresham, and Bar Manager of the Year to Stuart Morrow. A massive congratulations to all the winners from the team here at BARS&clubs! Turn to p.20 for a full wrap-up of the industry’s night of nights.

LARK: THE WOLF Lark Distillery and Victorian-based brewery Wolf of the Willows launched a limitededition single malt whisky in October. Called ‘The Wolf Release’, it was produced via a back-and-forth process of cask ageing with beer and whisky fills and refills. Only 382 bottles of the unique whisky were released.

news BACARDI REVEALS LEGACY TOP FOUR After battling it out in the semi-final in Brisbane in late October, Will Krepop (Jungle Boy), David Robinson (Snapper Rocks) and Millie Tang (The Gresham) were revealed as the three finalists in the 2018/19 Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition – joining ‘wild card’ Jenna Hemsworth (Hubert) as this year’s Four Most Promising. The group will now enter the next stage of the competition, which will see them mentored by dedicated brand ambassadors in the lead up to February’s Australian Grand Final.


It’s safe to say that Diageo’s National Gin and World Class Ambassador, Krystal Hart, knows a thing or two about all things juniper. BARS&clubs decided to pick her brain.

AUSSIE DISTILLERS DEMAND TAX CUT At the Australian Distillers Association (ADA) annual conference in Adelaide in November, delegates were united and vocal in their demands for a decrease in excise duty on spirits, labelling the current regime a ‘spirits super tax’. Under Australian law, distilleries are beholden to an $84.51 excise duty per litre of alcohol sold. The tax raised from a single nip of gin in Australia is $1.06, which is around 10 times the amount levied in the US, and more than twice as much as packaged beer and four times higher than commercial cider.

COCKTAIL SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE LAUNCHES Cocktail Porter, Australia’s first premium online cocktail subscription service, was unveiled in October – offering bartender-designed cocktail kits delivered directly to customers’ front doors. Behind the service is Cameron Northway, founder and managing director of Sweet&Chilli. With a different cocktail delivered monthly, each kit contains the latest trends in cocktails from bars around the world, along with easy-to-follow recipes, premeasured spirits, tailored mixers and quality ingredients to create simple but delicious tipples.

SHOULD A GIN THAT HIGHLIGHTS OTHER BOTANICALS OVER JUNIPER STILL BE CALLED A GIN? No, it should not be called gin. EU labelling laws clearly state that “Only flavouring substances or flavouring preparations or both shall be used for the production of gin so that the taste is predominantly that of juniper.” The category is quite flexible as it stands, allowing for difference of production and geography to not affect its classification. Juniper is the beating heart that allows the category to propel forward. Without the noticeably alpine and floral notes that juniper provides, the spirit is not identifiably gin.

According to a recent national survey from American Express*, 42% of small businesses in the food and beverage industry currently have job vacancies, with 33% saying it’s harder than ever to find staff. As a result, 34% of business owners work longer hours than intended. *The Economy of Shopping Small: Back Your Backyard


All the latest industry news, along with features, tips and tutorials.

WHERE DO YOU THINK THE GIN CATEGORY IS HEADED OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS? I think you’ll see the category explode with even more dynamic expressions of spirits that continue to challenge the understanding of what a gin should be. We’re seeing more and more botanical spirits exploding into the market that aren’t quite ‘gin’ and from a taste perspective don’t quite fit into the flavoured vodka category. The category of No/Low Spirits is also on the rise, and with that incredibly intelligent marketing plans that appeal to the lifestyle of gin drinking without the fear of the next day hangover. BARS&clubs 7



mployees Only, the world-renowned New York City bar, has opened a Sydney outpost in a heritage-listed basement on Barrack Street in the CBD. The Sydney speakeasy – which follows the opening of Employees Only bars in Hong Kong, Singapore and Miami – is spearheaded by cofounder Dushan Zaric and Robert Krueger from EO New York (pictured above centre), along with Sydney-native Anna Fang who has been brought on as bar manager. Krueger, who has worked for EO since December 2004, told BARS&clubs the plan for the bar has been in the works for about three years. “I signed on to the project last July, and the space has been secured since about that time – since then it’s just been moving forward on all fronts: negotiating with council, the heritage building, and getting our hours of operation set up with the powers that be,” he said. Given the well-documented regulatory challenges of opening a bar in Sydney, BARS&clubs asked Krueger why the harbour city was chosen as the location for the Australian Employees Only outpost. 8 BARS&clubs

“I think that Sydney is the more connected city internationally [versus Melbourne],” he explained. “In New York we meet people from Australia all the time, because Australians travel so much, and in Singapore too. But there’s a little more traffic between New York, Sydney, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and that’s part of what we are – a place that has global regulars. “Also, Employees Only is a prohibition-themed concept, and Sydney has been undergoing its prohibition fight in the form of lockout for five or six years now. The space we’ve got has a licence that we’re able to extend to 3am, so we’ll be able to do what we always have done, which is be the last guys open, and be there for when people get out of work.” The cocktail list for the venue includes a number of classics that made the original New York bar famous, along with bespoke drinks designed especially for Sydney – with alterations to the menu occurring “roughly seasonally”. Unlike many of the bars in the Sydney CBD, which do not have dedicated, full-service kitchens, Employees Only will be a place where food and drink go hand in hand. The bistro menu

is led by head chef Aurelien Girault and will feature new dishes with a wide-reaching range of flavours, ingredients, cuisines and cultures to cater to the Sydney palate. As well as the fact that it’s a restaurant, serving an all-night menu from 5pm-3am, Krueger also points out another point of difference at EO, compared to other speakeasies in the nearby area. “The music gets a little more party level at EO,” he explains. “We don’t have a dancefloor, but people like to boogie together and the place is designed so people bump into each other.” And of course, at the heart of it all are the same ideals that EO was founded on – caring for people in the service industry as well as ‘regular’ guests. “We want people to be hurrying in the closeout of their bars so that they can come and take care of themselves, and so we can take care of them on their way home,” said Krueger. “That’s what Employees Only was founded for and there’s definitely a need for it in the CBD.” Address: 9a Barrack St, Sydney NSW

openings Locura

The Three Blue Ducks team has launched their fifth venue, opening Locura – a late night bar offering – in Byron Bay. The six-man team of chefs and co-owners recently visited LA and Mexico for inspiration on vibrant and flavoursome Latin American cuisine, informing the dining menu. On the drinks front, award-winning bartender Tim Philips (Dead Ringer and Bulletin Place) has joined forces with Locura to create an ecletcitc cocktail list to complement the food offering, described as “simple, fun, fresh and flavoursome”. Drinks included mezcal-based mules with kombucha, a take on the classic Mexican favourite michelada, and homemade tepache – a fermented pineapple beverage made using the leftover pineapple skins. The wine list features a compact selection of international organic and natural wines, with a smattering of South American options. A combination of local and international beers are available by the bottle, while the tap list rotates regularly to showcase a selection of some of Australia’s best craft beers and ciders.

Matteo Downtown

Matteo Downtown, the brainchild of hospitality team The Adored Group, is inspired by the all-day dining restaurants of Milan and Rome and has a foot firmly planted in Italian aperitivo culture. Made up of Adam Abrams, Orazio D’Elia and Eddie Levy, the trio – which, individually, have launched some of Sydney’s top drinking and dining destinations (Kittyhawk, Lobo Plantation) – joined forces to open Matteo Double Bay in 2017. In addition to the all-day dining options offered by the restaurant, significant attention has been paid to building the bar as a destination in its own right, with its own menu and experience. Bar manager Maurizio Furiani serves up an innovative drinks list, focused on uncomplicated, classic Italian flavours built around spritzes, negronis and Italian classics. Also, five days a week from 4pm-6pm, guests can gather at the bar and sip on a selection of wine, beer, and cocktails – accompanied by complimentary snacks, as per the Italian evening tradition.

Beirne Lane

Fortitude Valley’s newest drinking hole, Beirne Lane, threw open its doors in early November. Located inside the heritage-listed T.C. Beirne Building, the new venue offers an all-day, all-night drinking, dining and dancing hub for Brisbane’s punters. The gastropub-style space – developed by Brisbane hospitality group Celissa – bridges the gap between bar and restaurant, with quality drinks and affordable dining options in abundance. The food offering is an interesting blend of Irish and Japanese, with the ‘katsu sando’ menu said to be a crowd pleaser. The bar menu is similarly offbeat; a signature cocktail is the ’Oh Boys! We Must Have Another!’, Beirne Lane’s take on a fog cutter, while the beer selection includes a few old favourites as well as a constantly-rotating selection of craft. With design work completed by AZB Creative, the space includes a mix of indoor and outdoor, upper and lower dining spaces, and casual bar-style seating areas.

Bopp & Tone

Sydney hospitality group Applejack opened its first Sydney CBD location in mid-November, adding to a growing portfolio of restaurants and bars. Its latest venue Bopp & Tone is a tribute to the Applejack founders’ grandfathers, Keith ‘Bopp’ Evans and Anthony ‘Tone’ Adams. The venue reflects the nostalgic and post WWII era they lived in; design features include heavy marbles, classic tiles and textures, dark and moody timber furnishings, along with an alfresco dining terrace, private dining room and Applejack’s signature love of greenery. The food menu centers around generous share food with Mediterranean influences and is predominantly cooked on the in-house wood grill or charcoal oven. Following the same ethos as the food, the concise cocktail list has been developed by group bars manager Lachy Sturrock and bar manager Craig Kerrison, featuring popular classic cocktails tailored with Australian ingredients and Mediterranean charm.

Address: 6 Lawson St, Byron Bay NSW

Address: 20 Bond St, Sydney NSW

Address: T11-14/315 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley QLD

Address: 60 Carrington St, Sydney NSW

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2 01










new faces

Mark White, Mechanics Institute (WA)

I became a bartender because... I was looking at studying brewing and started working in a bar to make connections while I waited for semester to start. One shift in and I knew the bar was where I wanted to be. My service weapon is… My attention to detail. The best part of the industry is... Whether it’s surviving a savage service or pouring a round of shots (“staff meeting!”), the relationships forged by our experiences in the bar are the greatest gift this industry has to offer. The worst part is... As long as we’re always pushing forward and bettering ourselves then we’ll be alright. Big changes happen with small steps. The international bar I want to visit is... Dandelyan. If I could serve someone famous it would be... Tom Kearney. The cocktail I would make cool again is... There are no uncool cocktails man! But everybody should try a Trinidad Sour at least once and experience their palates explode! Drinkers are paying attention to... The customer has already taken in the vibe of the venue, long before you can even put a drink in front of them. If you can’t get that right, the battle is already lost. If I ruled the world, I would make everyone... Relax a little?

Ben Whelan, Stanton & Co (NSW)

I became a bartender because… Simply put, I love slinging booze and creating a customer’s experience – showing a punter a new style of beer or a classic cocktail and them loving it is the best feeling. My service weapon is… My trusty bar blade and the team behind the bar. The best part of the industry is…The wide range of people working in the industry, I’ve found hospitality is the most open and accepting industry to be a part of. Anyone willing to work hard will be given a fair crack. The worst part is… People forgetting their roots. Simply put, as bartenders we are here to serve. The international bar I want to visit is… It’s all Aussie baby, support your local bar. Australia has some seriously underrated bars. If I could serve someone famous it would be… Nick Offerman, can’t beat Parks and Recreation. The cocktail I would make cool again is… Boulevardier. Drinkers are paying attention to… New products; drinkers are becoming more willing to try new things.

Julia Major, Old Mate’s Place (NSW)

I became a bartender because… I love to cook, and bartending is like cheffing with drinks with tasty, tasty results. My service weapon is… Some jive and a smile. The best part of the industry is… The little communities full of like-minded individuals only wanting the best for one another, offering constant support and appreciation. The worst part is... Any crumbums that are rude, especially straight off the bat and for no particular reason. You better believe I’m shaking my fist in my head at them. The international bar I want to visit is… I’d like to just roam around New Orleans and stumble across a little, unsuspecting watering hole. If I could serve someone famous it would be… Del Kathryn Barton. She’s my absolute favourite illustrator, I’d be curious to hear more of her story. The cocktail I would make cool again is… A single plum, floating in perfume, served in a man’s hat. Drinkers are paying attention to… How shiny my forehead gets. If I ruled the world, I would make everyone… Very anxious with all my anxiousness and we’d all then be in a very anxious bubble and probably implode.

Jess ‘Lady of Botanicals’ Clayfield, Gin Palace (VIC)

I became a bartender because… I tried the chef thing but didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t talk to customers and see their reactions. Bartending was the next choice, and my obsession with Australian botanicals pairs with my long-term love affair with gin. My service weapon is… My winning smile, the ability to always tell a story and a trusty old bar spoon, the longer the better. The best part of the industry is… Being able to spend time with guests where you can really work out what drinks they like and make them something really special. The worst part is... Definitely doing the dishes! The international bar I want to visit is… I might cry for joy if I ever go to Atlas Bar in Singapore. If I could serve someone famous it would be… My go to answer would be Tom Hardy, but I don’t think I could actually speak to him. The cocktail I would make cool again is… The Blue Lagoon – with gin of course! Drinkers are paying attention to… There’s a massive shift to terroir and local ingredients. Especially in Australia, now that our native ingredients are becoming more available to the everyday market. If I ruled the world, I would make everyone… Drink Champagne at lunch time. BARS&clubs 11


AUSSIE DISTILLERS DESCEND ON ADELAIDE The burgeoning craft spirits industry was in top form at this year’s Australian Distillers Association (ADA) conference in Adelaide, and Bellr’s Mitchell Stapleton-Coory was there to cover all the action.

Inside the brand-new Lot 100 facility


epresentatives from Australia’s finest and most innovative distilleries all convened in the South Australian capital for a mammoth two day and threenight event, spanning dinner at the prestigious Sean’s Kitchen, a full day of keynote addresses and industry discussions at the Adelaide Convention Centre, and a curated distillery tour of the Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills – all capped off in style with cocktails at Prohibition Liquor Co. Chaired by the charismatic ADA president and Four Pillars co-founder Stuart Gregor, the event exceeded expectations with a record turnout for 2018. “The turnout was great, the calibre of speakers was excellent, and I think there is a real sense of camaraderie and buoyancy in the craft spirits industry at the moment – a 12 BARS&clubs

sense that people are in for something interesting and exciting”, said Gregor. The conference spanned a wide range of interesting topics, and at many points drew impassioned conversation from the crowd as the delegation presented a united front on issues such as excise reform, and the importance of including distilleries as an integral part of the Australian culinary experience. During a presentation by Tourism Australia’s Joleen Booth on ‘Distilleries as tourist destinations’, the crowd was informed of the evolving strategic focus in presenting Australia’s offerings to the tourism market. “International tourists currently think of Australia as being simply a ‘food and wine’ destination. However,

The new Seppeltsfield Road Distillery


Sampling the Seppeltsfield Road range

moving forward, the marketing message will be re-framed around ‘food and drink’, so as to broaden the depth of our offering and ensure our international reputation extends beyond just wine”. Many of the delegates echoed this sentiment, with a key trend for 2019 revolving around the need for distilleries to incorporate a tasting room or ‘distillery door’ within their facility, as this opens up the retail channel and places them on the map for tourist traffic. IN THE FLESH Two superb examples of this were on full display during the distillery tour on day two. Following an in-depth tour of Tarac Technologies’ major processing facility in Nuriootpa, two full charter buses packed with Australian craft spirits VIPs descended on the newly minted Seppeltsfield Road Distillery for morning tea, and to experience a calibre of hospitality that continues to put the Barossa Valley on the map. Delegates enjoyed an outstanding selection of fine local produce, a full gin tasting, and were some of the first guests ever to experience the breathtaking aesthetics of the new facility – providing a perfect example of how a distillery can seamlessly incorporate a functional venue and thus capture the tourist market as well. Co-founder of Seppeltsfield Road Distillers, Nicole Durdin, spoke passionately about the years of hard work and determination that are needed to thrive in this industry, and urged the delegates to take care of themselves.

“We work so hard for our businesses, our customers, and because we love what we do. Just always be aware of burnout. Talk to your family and friends – make sure you are looking after yourself”, said Durdin. Many in the crowd were moved to tears, as her words appeared to strike a chord with the delegation, highlighting the pressures that are involved in operating a small business within a highly regulated and competitive market. Following Seppeltsfield, the delegation was treated to an

exclusive ‘first look’ at ‘Lot 100’, a brand-new facility incorporating Adelaide Hills Distillery, Mismatch Brewing Co, Hills Cider Co and Vinterloper Winery. An open bar and gourmet lunch ensued, as delegates marvelled at the impressive scale and refinement of what is sure to quickly become an iconic ‘must see’ destination in the Adelaide Hills. Again, the delegates were reminded of the capacity to beautify their facilities and create a truly wholesome and immersive experience, showcasing the provenance of their craft, and elevating the standard upon which we enjoy fine food and drink in Australia. This year’s conference was a reminder to all of the vast potential within the Australian spirits market. All attendees were gracious and united on many fronts, as they seek to expand and refine the quality of craft produce in this country. With the exponential growth of the ADA in recent years, one gets the feeling that this is just the beginning.

The new Seppeltsfield Road facility is truly stunning

Delegates at the ADA conference 2018

BARS&clubs 13

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THE PROFESSOR: JACOB BRIARS Global Advocacy Director at Bacardi, Jacob Briars, has probably led more training sessions on spirits education and bartender skills than just about anyone in the industry. BARS&clubs caught up with Briars when he was in Australia recently to talk shop.

DO YOU SEE ANY TRENDS IN COCKTAIL CULTURE THAT ARE CUTTING ACROSS THE WORLD AT THE MOMENT? Things move so fast now. Once upon a time, you had a pretty good business model if you were from Australia or NZ, and once a year you got on a plane and went to New York or London, worked out what the hottest bar was and copied it. Nowadays, you could rip an idea off and people would notice straight away. In terms of general trends, we’re seeing an amazing resurgence and interest in rum – we’re seeing the daquiri become the bartender’s favourite cocktail, and an enthusiasm and knowledge about rum that wasn’t there before. Low ABV drinks, aperitivo and vermouth is coming back too – as chefs have always understood, whenever you need a new signature thing, choose something that’s cheap, and vermouth is still so cheap. ARE THERE ANY DRINKS OR TRENDS YOU HAPPILY TAKE CREDIT FOR? With 42Below, we ran one of the first global cocktail competitions. It seems redundant now in the age of Facebook, but at that time there was no way for bartenders around the world to meet each other or share

ideas, apart from maybe a trade show or two. We took 42 bartenders from all over the world down to NZ for a week, and I like to think we helped build connections between people all over the world, which I don’t think anyone else was doing at the time. I also think I helped bring blue drinks back – but I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing! WHAT MAKES A GOOD BARTENDER A GREAT ONE? A lot of what happens in our industry is people wanting to look like they don’t have a care in the world – but the people who are really brilliant at it are the ones who are, behind the scenes, working really hard and improving themselves, and constantly tweaking their drinks. Sam Ross didn’t just come up with the Penicillin on the fly – he played around with all of the elements to make sure they were exactly right. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR BARTENDERS LOOKING TO GET INTO THE BRAND SIDE? Lots of bartenders ask me, “should I get on a plane and move to New York?” And I often say no, the opposite: move to the smallest town possible and work hard to raise the standards there. Don’t be one of 1000 bartenders competing

to be famous in London, get on a plane and do the opposite. There’s never been a time in history with so many good bartenders out there, but generally they’re all doing the same thing – so it’s not that hard to differentiate yourself, by doing a few things differently and digging a little bit deeper. WHERE DO YOU SEE BAR CULTURE HEADED IN THE NEXT 5 YEARS? I think we’ll have cocktails, spirits and just generally bars available for more people than they ever have been before. Spirits and cocktails started as something people drank because they thought they were stronger, then they turned into a bit of a craft – and you ended up with the speakeasy – but eventually they’ll end up everywhere. There will still be a difference between a good bartender and a great bartender, and a role for both higher-end and more casual bars, but I’d be bullish about the fact there will be a cocktail bar in every suburb. ONE COCKTAIL FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE – WHAT IS IT? I do love a daiquiri, but I’d have to choose a Martini. In terms of its ability to make you feel civilised and grown up – it’s one of life’s great pleasures. BARS&clubs 15



Rogerio Igarashi


Hisatsugu Saito

16 BARS&clubs

wo of Asia’s best bartenders, Rogerio Igarashi (Bar Trench, Tokyo) and Hisatsugu Saito (Ars & Delecto, Shanghai) were the stars of two Aussie bar takeovers hosted by Nikka in late September. For one night only, at Door Knock in Sydney and 1806 in Melbourne, Igarashi and Saito served up five delicious, bespoke cocktails – including the Trench 75, a take on the French 75 especially for the Aussie market – all mixed with Nikka products, including the newly released gin and vodka. Nursing somewhat of a headache, BARS&clubs caught up with the duo the following day to get know them a little better.


IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR YOU’VE NOTICED ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN SCENE WHILE YOU’VE BEEN HERE? Rogerio Igarashi: One thing I would say about the Australian customer – we have a lot of Australians coming to our bar in Tokyo too – is that they are quite conscious about what they want to have and what they want to drink. If they order a G&T or a gimlet, they’ll point to that gin, or that gin. So flavourwise they’re quite knowledgeable about what they want. Also, you guys drink really fast! Saito & Igarashi with the team from 1806

HOW WOULD YOU GUYS DEFINE ‘JAPANESE BARTENDING’? Hisatsugu Saito: For me, Japanese bartending is welcoming people with hospitality from the beginning to the end. It’s focusing on the small details, with lots of preparation, and providing an all-round experience. It’s all about balance. RI: If I could choose a word to explain a Japanese bartender I would say ‘soundless’. Even in service, we talk less, we try to realise things before we talk. All of the time we are respecting the other person; even when making cocktails, we try to respect the customer having a conversation – when I open and close a fridge door, and when I walk I try to not make noise, because their conversation is more important than me making noise. The bar could be loud, but there’s always the feeling from the bartender of trying to make less sound. HOW DID YOU EACH GET INTO BARTENDING? HS: I started bartending years ago, because I like to make things. Sometimes when you make things, you don’t get to see a reaction, but with cocktails, the reaction of the guest is obvious. RI: I was working as a photographer’s assistant and also doing two or three shifts a week at Bar Tram. At first I really didn’t want to work as a bartender, because I like going to sleep early and waking up early – but there was something I couldn’t run away from! When I had to make a decision between photography

and bartending, I chose food and beverage and still haven’t given up. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE OR LEAST FAVOURITE THING ABOUT BEING A BARTENDER? RI: I’ve been bartending for 18 years, but still my weak point is between 11 and midnight – I still get so sleepy. On my days off, I’m often asleep by 9pm. I still don’t like the late nights. HS: Bartending is super hard, and the work never seems to end, but I love being lots of things at once: a chef, a host, and everything else – so many things in one role. WHY DO YOU THINK THERE ARE SO MANY GOOD BARS (AND BARTENDERS) COMING OUT OF ASIA AT THE MOMENT? RI: I’m not sure, I would ask the same question myself! Especially Singapore and Hong Kong – all the guys are amazing bartenders, who

Silver Dog

have worked all over the world. Both cities are very cosmopolitan, with guests that travel a lot. Amazing bartenders from all around the world, including Japan, are moving there too, to open a venue or manage a venue. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE NEW NIKKA GIN AND VODKA? RI: The Nikka Gin is peppery, but not black pepper – a wet, green pepper. But how do you describe a gin that is peppery and wet in words? But once you taste it, you can understand the freshness – it’s not a dry citrus, it’s more wet. The vodka also has that oily nature too. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR BARTENDERS LOOKING FOR LONGEVITY IN THIS INDUSTRY? RI: I think every bartender when they start, they think that to be a good bartender is to make delicious cocktails, or know techniques – but over the years I’ve realised the delicious cocktail is only five or ten percent of the whole experience. You end up learning that the interaction with people, the giving and receiving from customers is the most important thing. If you focus too much on the drinks, you might forget that the person over there just wants a gin and tonic. But it’s a balance – you need to study too. WHAT’S YOUR DESERT ISLAND COCKTAIL? HS: Blood and Sand. RI: Brooklyn. BARS&clubs 17

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GREY GOOSE – SPECIAL EDITION RIVIERA BOTTLE The Grey Goose Limited Edition Riviera bottle has the same exceptional vodka as Grey Goose Original, made from the finest French wheat and pure spring water. The bottle is designed by illustrator Quentin Monge to celebrate summer and is inspired by the luxurious French seaside. Bacardi-Martini Australia

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PRESENT BROOKIE’S BYRON DRY GIN Distilled with native botanicals foraged from the heart of the rainforest, and handcrafted on the Cape Byron Distillery farm in the hinterland of Byron Bay. Brookie’s is a beautifully balanced combination of the finest regional botanicals in a truly classic gin. Cape Byron Distillery

WHITE LIGHT BARREL AGED AUSTRALIAN VODKA Not content to rest on their laurels after winning Champion Vodka at this year’s Australian Distilled Spirits Awards, the White Light Vodka team have taken their triple distilled spirit and aged it in new Hungarian Oak barrels, imparting a light straw colour and silky creaminess with a rich full bodied mouthfeel. Savoury hints of nutty malt lead to fresh vanilla and citrus making this perfect over ice with a twist of orange, or sublime in a Manhattan. White Light Vodka

ELEPHANT GIN Drink delicious gin. Help save African Elephants. Name a better combination! Elephant Gin is distilled in Germany with 14 botanicals, five of which are rare African botanicals. Bottled at 45% it’s a bold, citrusy, earthy gin. 15% of their profits go towards African Elephant conservation by way of supporting three conservation and antipoaching charities. Luxe Wine + Spirits

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The best dressed award was one of the most hotly contested of the night

The room was aw

ash with colour

suitably Tim Philips was n by buoyed his wi

The Drinks Trolley was a hit on the night

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ALIA 2018



urs were The whiskey so ter-party af e th at ng wi flo

Awards Sponsors:

he 2018 Australian Liquor Industry Awards (ALIA) took place at Randwick Racecourse on 31 October, as around 600 members of the industry gathered to celebrate another big year. Once again, it lived up to its billing as the industry’s night of nights. Every year ALIA has a theme and with this year’s event falling on 31 October, it was only ever going to be Halloween and it brought out the creative spirit in so many people from across the industry. From killer brides to zombies and from vampires to the Day of the Dead, Royal Randwick was awash with colour – and blood! 2018 saw 54 awards presented to the industry’s best people, products, venues and brands across the on- and off-premise, including 12 major awards. The first of the major awards to be presented was the hotly-contested Bartender of the Year, which this year went to Natalie Ng from Door Knock. “I’m humbled to win this award, especially when so many of my favourite bartenders were also nominated – definitely a career highlight,” she told BARS&clubs. “A big thank you goes to all the people I worked for and beside behind the stick with… I’ve learnt so much from them.” “My team at Door Knock are the best and I thank them for being the heart and soul of the venue,” Ng added. “To all the bartenders that welcomed me whilst I’ve sat at your

bar on my lonesome, every tiny interaction has inspired me in one way, shape or form.” Another popular win was Bar of the Year, which was awarded to The Barber Shop. “We are all over the moon about the recognition to be honest,” said Julian Train. “We have worked hard over the last five years to make sure The Barber Shop remains at the front of the Australian cocktail scene, and with our big focus on all things gin it’s nice to be acknowledged that we are still on the right track!” Bar Group Operator of the Year went to Speakeasy Group, while Vanguard Luxury Brands was named the On-premise Supplier of the Year for the third time. “The ALIAs are the industry’s most respected awards and to win this ALIA means an enormous amount to everyone at Vanguard,” said owner and founder James France. The night kicked off with predrinks sponsored by Coopers, and throughout the night guests were treated to networking bars from Vonu and Rum Co of Fiji, T’Gallant and Squealing Pig, Pimm’s and The Australian Brewery. In addition, there was a spooky drinks trolley from Vodka O and Untold Spiced Rum, as well as a photobooth from Good Drinks. The night was then topped off with after-party drinks sponsored by Mister Mixer. If you haven’t been to ALIA before, put it in your diary for next year – it’s a night not to be missed. BACARDI-MARTINI AUSTRALIA PTY LIMITED



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ALIA 2018

On-Premise Awards BEST NEW VENUE OR CONCEPT WINNER: The Duke of Clarence HIGHLY COMMENDED: Barangaroo House BEST NEW BAR WINNER: Tiny’s HIGHLY COMMENDED: Jacoby’s Tiki Bar

The team from SouthTrad e/Fever-T ree

BEST FOOD MENU WINNER: The Dolphin Hotel HIGHLY COMMENDED: The Duke of Clarence BEST MUSIC VENUE WINNER: The Lansdowne HIGHLY COMMENDED: Frankie’s BAR MANAGER OF THE YEAR WINNER: Stuart Morrow, The Baxter Inn HIGHLY COMMENDED: James Connolly, Long Chim

Stuart Morrow and Josh Reynolds

(Tiny’s) and Brett Robinson anguard) (V ce an James Fr


Martin Barrett (Time Out), Tim Philips-Johansson and Rob Sloan (Bulletin Place)

Josh Reynolds, Kylie Farquh ar (TWE), Stuart Morrow


Steve Tam Allenby (BARS&clubs), -Luu yen Ngu id Dav McDermott and ce) ren Cla of e Duk e (Th


22 BARS&clubs

e Lane (Th and Ryan n (Bacardi) re o o M l Ka Brow ), Dennis Gresham Luke Trimboli, Pa ul Oscar (Stone & Wood) and Paul Wootto n (Intermedia)


Major Awards BARTENDER OF THE YEAR WINNER: Natalie Ng, Door Knock HIGHLY COMMENDED: Matt Linklater, Black Pearl BAR OF THE YEAR WINNER: The Barber Shop HIGHLY COMMENDED: The Baxter Inn

Alexandra Dahle nburg and Aliss a Gabriel (Speakea sy Group)


and Brendan Coogan, Kieran Lee ber Shop) Bar e (Th u -Lu yen Ngu id Dav

Starward Two-Fold Double Grain is the whisky we’ve always wanted to make. An ambitious offering destined to redefine what it means to be an Australian whisky. It marries two quintessential Australian grains – wheat and barley, with our signature red wine barrels sourced from iconic Australian wineries, and elementally matures them in Vanguard Luxury Brands with the Inter

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WHISKY: TRADITION VS INNOVATION A debate about tradition versus innovation has consumed whisk(e)y experts as a new generation moves to revolutionise without blaspheming the old guard, writes Sophie Smith.

24 BARS&clubs



his almost religious routine that goes with whisky - it’s got to be this, it’s got to be that – why? Why does it have to be?” asks Melbourne bartender Jacob Flynn. Flynn is head of whisky at Beneath Driver Lane in Melbourne and one of a growing number of 20 to 40-somethings advocating for innovation. “I would like to see an opening up of what the base of the whisky would be,” he says. “There’s a wonderful Chicago distillery named KOVAL and they make a millet whiskey, an oat whiskey. I’ve heard of quinoa whiskies coming on the market, if you want to drink that out of an avocado.” The perceived need doesn’t stem from a struggling market. There’s been an explosion of whisky bars and distilleries across Australia, with imports also estimated to be three to four times greater than that 10 years ago. The resale market is so lucrative it’s now contentious and likened to Wall

St. Bartenders are traversing the globe to find bottles that aren’t widely available. Some producers are experimenting with casks and age, rejuvenated venues fashioned as American saloons offer a roaring good time and restaurants are as hungry to buy Japanese whisky as the consumer. “People are looking to push the boundaries, break tradition and do things that talk to the new whisky drinker. They’re dusting off the preconception of it being a 50-to-dead person sitting on a Chesterfield in front of a fire, which is typically male dominated. It’s opening up to a broader range of drinkers including young females,” says Glenfiddich brand ambassador Luke Sanderson, currently promoting the Experimental Series. “Within the industry, you’ve got a lot more of the next generation that is coming through, myself included in that. The stereotype of an old Scottish man telling you a story about whisky, it’s not necessarily what people need anymore.”

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THE NEXT BIG THING? A number of Australian distilleries will mark first releases in 2019, but not everyone is excited. “The industry picked up and they’re now releasing two or three years later,” says Speakeasy Group’s Geoff Fewell. “I’m not a great fan of most first releases from anyone. I’ve tried Lark’s and Sullivan Cove’s first release, and they’re not good. They admit it. “The guys that are really good now have taught themselves over 10 years. A lot of these new Australian releases are focusing on the cask too much [that] I don’t find them to be complete. The industry in Australia, it’s great to see it growing but I’d like to see more longterm planning.”

BUCKING THE TREND The old guard has made a biblical impression on the industry that even the passionate, well-read disruptors pay homage to. Some bartenders still consider it sacrilege to challenge the notion of Scotch and whisk(e)y as only a reserved, special occasion drink. 26 BARS&clubs

Glenfiddich’s Luke Sanderson

“It needs to be a fine balance. Innovation is very good, but you don’t want to be chucking spirit in anything and selling it to people for the sake of it,” Speakeasy Group whisky acquisitions Geoff Fewell reasons. “The reliance on the traditional oak cask is a Scottish thing and in Scotland they are suffering from too much tradition. I’ve got a red gum whisky from Tassie on the backbar, but I would not seek it out. It’s good from that experimental side but part of the reason of the tradition of the Scottish guys is it works. “What I’m looking for now is the opposite to the trend,” Fewell continues. “I call sherry [cask] the sauvignon blanc of the whisky world. It’s got very big flavours that are easily identifiable and get boring. If I wanted Christmas cake, I would eat some. I’m getting into the more intricate and nuanced whiskies that are a little bit lighter, they’re a lot more delicate but showing flavours you have to look for and find.” APPROACHABILITY Demand has also contributed to the debate, with some distilleries working to fill the gap between age statements.



FOR: “It’s like Wall St. If you buy a bottle for $600 now and hold onto it for two or three years, it’s probably going to be $3000, so we’re doing that as well.” – Carsten Belger, Beneath Driver Lane AGAINST: “I hope the secondary market and the resell prices start to come down. The Yamazaki sherry cask release, we could have literally sold it the next day and tripled our money on what we paid for it because it’s so limited. I find that ridiculous. What it means is there is a lot of great whisky that is being bought and put in a cupboard, never to be opened. That’s a shame.” – Geoff Fewell, Speakeasy Group

Beneath Driver Lane’s Carsten Belger and Jacob Flynn (left and centre)

How bartenders inform their customers has even modernised. Fewell’s Boilermaker House has launched an app that divides whisky foremost by flavour, then by region, price, brand and cask. It removes the possibility of consumers being overwhelmed by a 900-plus bottle list and caters for the beginner to the enthusiast willing to spend $500 a shot of Talisker 40-year-old. “The new trend is to make it more approachable for the next generation,” says Beneath Driver Lane operations manager Carsten Belger. “Brands are putting the effort in to both educate staff and consumers, and for them to see what the market wants and adjust to that.” Pop culture has also influenced a shift from the category being synonymous with tartan, mahogany and your mum’s crystal, to boozy knock-off drink. “We have a lot of lawyers come in and drink Macallan because they saw Harvey Specter drink it on Suits. That’s actually a big thing,” adds Belger. TEAR IT DOWN Central to innovation is deconstruction. “You never want to lose values that have built credentials and brand. It’s just allowing people to unlearn whisky and the assumptions they have around

it, [and] engage a different side,” says Sanderson. “Serving it neat is the way you can understand the work that has been done behind the distillery. But in this day and age when you have such access to produce, skilled bar teams and bartenders, whisky is a great platform just like any other category. You can complement with a whole range of flavours and it’s not seen to be bastardising the product.” Region doesn’t necessarily denote flavour, age doesn’t equate to taste, and blended whiskies aren’t considered “bogan” anymore. “To make Johnnie Walker Blue Label or a blended whisky like Rock Oyster you have to be taking components from everywhere that change every year and creating a consistent product. That is much harder to do than most people will give credit to,” says Fewell. So what are the whisky trends that bartenders should be aware of leading into 2019? Whisky highballs are tipped to be big this summer, while flights paired cheese and charcuterie have been successful in further “demystifying” the category. “If we keep putting everything on a pedestal and thinking it’s only something you have with a cigar when you’re wearing a suit, it’s detrimental to the industry. Producers want you to enjoy their product right now, not necessarily revere it,” says Flynn. Just hold on the avocado. BARS&clubs 27

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summer drinks menu

HAVE SUMMER THAT! Summer is a season when people call out for long, refreshing drinks, but there is plenty more experimentation and innovation for bartenders to enjoy, writes Charlie Whitting.


ut simply, the ideal summer cocktail is one that overcomes the blazing sun and the stifling heat to bring cool refreshment. Within that requirement, however, there is plenty of scope to bring twists to the table. And while there is a plethora of classic drinks that guests expect during the warmer months – and bartenders shouldn’t ignore these – a little bit of experimentation can go a long way to making that classic summer drinking experience more special, and something worthy of telling other people about. “Classic summer drinks would be your Aperol spritz, Margarita, Mojito, Caprioska etc.,” says Mitch Townsend, bar manager at Beneath Driver Lane in Melbourne. “I like to think more along the lines of a Jungle Bird, Fog Cutter, Naked and Famous, Old Cuban – slight twists on classic cocktails. It’s not hard to change a few ingredients in a classic to make it fresh and seasonal.” The first thing to get right with summer cocktails though is to make them cold. Ice is critical for most cocktails, but in summer this need is even more acute. Be prepared to go through enormous quantities of ice with long mixed drinks, tall cocktails and even soft drinks, and maybe even use your ice as another way to create a talking point among customers. “There’s a huge movement in the ice business,” says Jason Crawley, director of The Drink Cabinet. “There are quite a few start-ups now. One bar

BARS&clubs 29

summer drinks menu serves every drink with a Collins Spear – a huge rectangle block of ice they put into an undersized highball so the top sticks out on top. It’s quite a thing. Bars across the board have moved to better quality ice in their drinks.” SUMMER SEASONALITY Seasonality is an oft-cited trope within cooking and cocktail circles, and with good reason. Appropriate ingredients can speak to customers more than a clever name, eliciting Proustian responses through aromas, tastes and even colours. Australia is blessed with an array of seasonal produce, often unique to the island, and these can be used to great effect, bringing cocktails to life in totally new ways. Longer drinks are generally more desirable in summer, giving bartenders a playground where syrups and liqueurs, fruits and flowers, and smells and smoke can delight and intrigue. And while clear spirits have clear sunshine connections, there’s no need to relegate whiskies and rums to the background – indeed, a look at the cocktails of the Caribbean should provide plenty of inspiration. “We’re starting to see people are becoming more playful with single malts and blended whiskies to enjoy those longer beverages,” says Lauren Mote, Diageo Reserve global ‘cocktailian’. “The whiskies are so complex and interesting you don’t want to fiddle with them too much. But a simple highball is just excellent.” But your thinking needn’t be limited to seasonally appropriate ingredients. Why not consider every aspect of summer? Scour your mind for aromas, memories and activities that bring that season to mind, and then run with that. Getting the right ingredient is one thing,

Beneath Driver Lane’s signature Dark ‘n’ Stormy

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but what you do with it from there can add whole new dimensions to your cocktail menu. “There’s a lot of stuff I saw using unexpected aromas,” says Joe McCanta, global brand ambassador for Grey Goose. “Smoke for instance. When I think of summer, I think of barbecues or fires on the beach. Utilising that and capturing that is interesting. I know a lot of guys who were smoking teas or using ways to smoke ingredients that you wouldn’t normally think of.” CHRISTMAS DOWN UNDER The southern hemisphere has a unique approach to Christmas, with festivities taking place in the height of summer, but with those classic northern hemisphere tropes of snow and Santa still playing an important role. For bartenders, then, the challenge is to bring that classic Christmas feel to the table without descending into wintry flavours like nutmeg and cinnamon. Red and green are the traditional Christmas colours, and handily green can also be a bright summery shade. “Pine is a really Christmas flavour,” says McCanta. “It has great aroma and there are lots of ways of using pine in drinks. Lots of gins have pine as a botanical. It’s good and keeps things green as well. Herbs as well – rosemary and lavender. Capturing that is a good way of straddling the divide of wanting to be Christmas-y but also wanting that nod to summer as well.” CATCH THE EYE As well as experimenting with taste and smell, summer is also a time to dazzle the eyes. In the bright lights of summer, your drinks will have a greater opportunity to shine, so you should aim to make them as eye-

summer drinks menu


“I think we’re starting to see lots of cocktails that are utilising cold brew coffee and cold tea,” says Lauren Mote, Diageo Reserve global ‘cocktailian’. “They’re adding really interesting flavours that we haven’t considered in the past. This Must Be The Place in Sydney, they’re doing fun things with kombucha that they’re fermenting in the bar, which is giving them different options and flavour profiles to play with.”

catching and alluring as possible. Funky, even overblown garnishes and big bright colours will get people ordering what they’ve seen and sharing it on social media. “Classic mixers such as tonic and soda coupled with fresh garnishes, citrus, strawberries and mint are eye catching and cater to the refreshing moment consumers seek as the days heat up,” says Oli Dos Remedios, marketing manager at Pernod Ricard Australia, Spirits. “Driven by Instagram culture, consumers are continuing to seek visually appealing cocktails to share with friends.” “The look of it is massively important,” adds Jason Crawley, director of The Drinks Cabinet. “Look at the frosé last summer. The Grounds has built a business on visuals – it’s the fourth most Instagrammed thing in Australia. Visual sells, mate!” Summer is an evocative season with plenty of sounds, smells and tastes for bartenders to bring to life in their drinks. With a readymade list of classics, the opportunities are there to play with flavours and designs to create something truly memorable that also slakes the thirst and pacifies the heat.

Flowers: “In summer, play with flowers, elderflower and

liqueurs like crème de violet,” recommends Joe McCanta, global brand ambassador for Grey Goose. “I love using sugar snap peas in drinks. It’s so green and fresh and delicious. It’s not something you’d think about in a cocktail, but it makes great drinks.”

Pink: “Vodka and other

white spirits are in growth, driven by the rise of pink cocktails,” says Oli Dos Remedios, marketing manager at Pernod Ricard Australia. “With a variety of pink spirits and mixers available that open the door to exciting and vibrant new cocktails, the pink trend is unlikely to slow.”

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For better or worse, rum has always been a rebellious spirit. This could be how it was raised, or it could be because it never had to abide by the rules like other spirits. But, as Tom Bulmer explains, one thing is for certain: rum has plenty of room to grow.

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Harvesting sugarcane at Husk Distillery


ver the last 10 years in Australia, we’ve seen a major shift in both consumer and trade perspectives of rum, which is greatly influencing rum’s direction. Gone are the days of rum being the “bogan” spirit, with the shift in rum’s perception largely being driven by investment in consumer and cocktail education by brands like Bundaberg. As more brands start to focus on the quality of their product and educating their drinkers, we are going to see an ongoing shift towards better products and guests that are happy to try them. Of course, the word on everyone’s lips at the moment is premiumisation. However, will

SUSTAINABILITY Rum is adapting to the current market trends but it could still go further. Sustainable practices are a major issue for our industry and hopefully this won’t just be a trend. Rum is one of the only spirits that is made from a waste by-product, molasses. In fact, many of the historical pratices in rum making are aimed at minimising waste. Sustainability was engrained into rum houses, whether it was using local streams to power the crushing of the cane, capturing the CO2 and giving soda companies their fizz, or separating the raw sugar from the molasses by sugarcane husk candle light. In fact, the sheer amount of power from burning sugarcane husk into electricity could power a small town or a small bar industry. Rum has all of this in its DNA, we but to grow we have to adapt best practice and transparency in how we approach rum.

rum be able to join the ranks of single malts and cognacs? And more importantly, should it? Rum has always been part of the cocktail scene, though its ability to be seen as a premium spirit has always been a difficult stretch for this pirate. Nevertheless, rum brands have picked up on the opportunity and over the last couple of years we’ve started to see vintage, limited release, single still and even single vineyard rums enter the market – in many ways adopting the SKU structure that whisky has had for years. The fact is, consumers that order premium spirits already know this language and the idea of ordering based on these features resonates with them. THE HURDLES OF HISTORY Given that rum is moving to the premium market, there are more than a few hurdles it must overcome – mostly relating to its naughty, sugary past. I still remember a training session 10 years ago where Manuel Terron proclaimed, “The story of rum is the story of sugar”. He was right, unfortunately; the addition of sugar and caramel has always been there in the shadows. But as brands begin to position rum as a premium, ‘adult’ spirit, it’s going to have to grow up a little. Especially BARS&clubs 33


if these premiumised rums start to adapt whisky terminology, pretty bottles and go over the $100 mark. So, what does this mean for rum? Lots of debate, arguments, rebellions, and maybe even the occasional coup d’état. Without a single body or classification of rum, we may as well sit back with some popcorn and watch. The CEO of Diplomatico was recently asked what he thought about the addition of sugar to rum. “We believe transparency in the production ways is key,” he replied. “Doing so only strengthens rum’s position and credibility, not weakening it.” All of these arguments are good news, INGREDIENTS: as the airing of dirty laundry • 30ml La Mauny 55% also means the production • 30ml Ginger wine process of rum is becoming • 10ml DOM Benedictine more transparent. • 10ml Luxardo Rum will never reach • 2 dashes Angostura bitters premiumisation in the same way • 1 dash absinthe as other spirits through uniform laws that govern its production. METHOD: Nor should it – rum has no rules Served in a Nick & Nora martini glass because it has grown up in more (Recipe by Daniel Hilton, Lobo Plantation) than one nation, making it a


GOOD OLD FASHIONED JOINT INGREDIENTS: • 60ml House Barrel blended rum • 5ml Poire William pear liqueur • 1 0ml porcini mushroom & clove spice syrup • 2ml Canadian maple syrup • 2 dash Old Fashioned bitters • 1 dash Angostura bitters METHOD: Stir down in a mixing glass, strain into a double rocks over cubed ice. (Recipe by Anthony Moore, Rosie Campbell’s)

distinctly multicultural spirit. If rum were forced into a single, unified production process it’d be as one-dimensional as missionary or vodka, and would lose its most defining feature. But to be premium it will need to define itself through transparency. CELEBRATE DIFFERENCE These cultural differences are important. When choosing your back bar, remember that with so much 34 BARS&clubs

diversity you need to ensure that the rums you choose aren’t all the same. Make sure you get a light Cuban, a heavy Jamaican, an easy-going Barbadian, and yes even a delicious spiced for dessert. But also ask for transparency. When your rum rep comes in to get you to stock a new product, ask questions. Where is this actually made? How much sugar in the bottle? Is this age statement actually the youngest rum in the bottle? If they smile and answer each question promptly, then chances are it’s a great product. If they start looking for the nearest fire exit, while saying “the distillery doesn’t really give out that information”, then you have your answer. The choice of what you stock and sell in your bar is a question of quality. If you’re shooting for high quality, then you should expect nothing less from your rums. LOCAL TALENT One of the most exciting recent developments is the resurgence of Australian rum production and micro-distilling. The direct access of consumers to rum production in local neighbourhoods is going to do a lot to transform perceptions. And while we’ve seen local gin take the spotlight in Australia over the few years, rum is hot on its heels. In fact, five micro-distilleries started rum production in the last year alone – but you might not have heard, because unlike gin, you can’t just steep in botanicals and sell it straight away. Rum production requires access to sugarcane or molasses, and then the minimum age laws in Australia mean even the first attempts won’t be seen for two to three years. The good news though is that where there’s a pirate, there’s a way. Many of these distilleries and brands are releasing ‘rum’ alternatives until their rum meets the age requirement. Expect to see plenty of local “rhum”, “cane spirit”, and “cachaca” on the market in the next year. Also, while changing the minds of educated spirit drinkers is

One man who has done more than nearly any other for the rum category is Ian Burrell

CLAIRIN PRESENT DANGER INGREDIENTS: • 45ml Clairin Sajous rum • 15ml Wray and Nephew white rum • 15ml Chartreuse MOF • 2 dashes orange bitters • Plantation OFTD rinse METHOD: Serve in a Nick & Nora martini glass with a Plantation OFTD rinse, and garnish with a lime coin. (Recipe by Jet Hauge, Burrow Bar)

important for brands seeking immediate results, but there’s a much greater long-term effect for rum in the 18-25 year old market. Our ability to get the next generation drinking rum now will pay dividends for years to come. Enter rum’s naughty cousin… SOPHISTICATED SPICE Spiced rum has encapsulated rum’s growth more than anything else in the category and this is poised to continue, as uni students everywhere keep heading out to party. You might think this is terrible, but with a premiumised market on the way, today’s spiced rum drinker could be tomorrow’s vintage release, single barrel aficionado. With the new brand growth in the spiced rum market we are

also seeing more identifiable and quality driven spiced rums emerge – with single-spice or flavour rums starting to sub-divide the subcategory. I’m amazed by the efforts of local distillers: Husk Bam Bam with its locally-sourced spices, unique distillate spicing from Brix spiced, and even the sugar-free spiced Cargo Cult. But my pick for the rum that epitomises the seeping of high-end culture into the spiced and flavoured category? It has to be Pineapple rum – the hero we didn’t know we needed, but deserve. Spiced and flavoured rum will continue to have a part to play in the overall category. But the question remains, will it also premiumise as its own category, or will it remain the pirate we know and love? Time will tell. OVER TO YOU Ultimately the only way rum will spread is by bars and bartenders getting involved in rum culture. The resurgence of premium rum and Tiki bars has helped significantly in conveying what rum can be: a culture that is less speakeasy and more easy, clad in anything from a suit to a Hawaiian shirt. With any other spirit, drinking a cocktail in a pineapple that’s been set on fire wouldn’t make sense, but with rum it’s required. Rum is the social spirit. It is diverse, multicultural, sustainable, and most importantly it’ll always greet you with a smile and a hug as it takes you back to the tropics. BARS&clubs 35

CAN SEEDLIP SUSTAINÂ THE HYPE? To many, the idea of a non-alcoholic spirit seems somewhat redundant. But as Kit Kriewaldt discovers, bartenders are finding novel ways to incorporate products like Seedlip into their drinks offering.

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ustralians of a certain vintage can tell you straight away that “the drink you have when you’re not having a drink” is Clayton’s. Even many of my own generation, with no experience of the drink itself, know that if something is ‘Clayton’s’, then it is not exactly what it claims to be – whether it’s an apparently healthy meal, a legal contract, or a car salesman. Despite earning its place in Australian slang, very few people can tell you what Clayton’s is made of, or whether it tastes any good. The slogan proved more enduring than the product, which is as hard to find now as Clayton’s drinkers were back in the 1970s. Seedlip, the British pioneer of the bourgeoning nonalcoholic drinks category, launched in Australia last year with a familiar tagline: “what to drink when you’re not drinking.” No doubt the resemblance to Clayton’s is unintentional. While Clayton’s is essentially a cola-flavoured soft drink without the fizz, masquerading as whisky, Seedlip is a non-alcoholic distilled spirit – the world’s first, in fact. The idea is old, but the method is new.

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS? Seedlip sits in the lucrative $967 billion market for nonalcoholic drinks, and an increasing number of those non-alcoholic drinks are aimed at adults. It’s a category Seedlip practically originated when it launched in 2015. After just one month, the company was forced to quadruple production to keep up with demand. Since then, Seedlip’s unique characteristics have turned heads in bars and boardrooms. In 2016, Diageo invested in the company. And in 2017, Seedlip’s turnover hit the £1 million mark. A distillery may seem like the last company you’d expect to support Seedlip, but Diageo is betting on a drier future. Worldwide consumption of alcohol declined every year from 2010 to 2016. Last year, the industry managed a barely perceptible increase of 0.01%. More importantly, young people – in particular, those obsessively-quantified millennials – seem to be the ones driving that decline. In the UK alone, people aged between 16 and 24 reported drinking significantly less than 45- to 64-year-olds. In fact, the number of young people who

BARS&clubs 37


Seedlip founder Ben Branson

don’t drink at all has gone up by 32% over the past 10 years. Whether for economic, religious, or health reasons, young people today are drinking less than their parents. Diageo’s backing has helped Seedlip find its way into bars and restaurants in the UK, US, and Canada. Since coming to Australia, Seedlip has begun pushing into Asia, with a high-profile launch event at Employees Only Hong Kong in March. Seedlip’s momentum seems irresistible. But given Australia’s history with Clayton’s – not to mention our hard-drinking national image – it’s surprising Seedlip came to Australia so quickly. Australia has changed a lot since the heyday of Clayton’s in the 1970s, but are we really drinking less, just like the Brits? In short: no. According to the World Health Organisation, Australia consumes more alcohol than any other English-speaking country. Between 2015 and 2016, 38 BARS&clubs

just as Seedlip was becoming popular in the UK, Australia’s alcohol consumption increased for the first time in a decade. Australia doesn’t seem to be racing towards Diageo’s drier future. In fact, young people aren’t even leading the way. The only Australians drinking significantly less than they did three years ago are people in their 60s. Those are sobering statistics for a hip new brand based on drinking less. CARVING OUT A LANE Nevertheless, in its first year on Australian shores, Seedlip has found a niche in restaurants and bars across the country, from Melbourne’s Black Pearl, to PS40 and Charlie Parker’s in Sydney. “The response from those at the forefront of the food and drink community [in Australia] has been incredible,” says Seedlip founder Ben Branson. He partly credits the positive reception to the ingenuity

of Australian bartenders, who are “actively championing being able to offer their guests a memorable experience regardless of whether they are drinking alcohol.” For bartenders, the three available flavours of Seedlip showcase the spirit’s versatility. Seedlip Garden 108, made with peas, hay, rosemary, and thyme, is tangy and herbaceous. Or, as memorably described by a chef friend, “it tastes like the beginning of a gazpacho.” Seedlip Spice 94, on the other hand, is much woodier, with notes of allspice and oak. It smells a little like an old-fashioned aftershave. There’s also Seedlip Grove 42, described as a “celebration of the orange”, distilled with bitter orange, mandarin, lemongrass and lemon. Seedlip’s watery texture in comparison to its alcoholic cousins can make it seem like an underwhelming drink on its own. The company’s recommended serve


is to mix Seedlip with tonic. In fact, mixed drinks are a key part of Seedlip’s strategy for getting into your glass. Rather than simply aim to make it into the drinks cabinets of teetotallers, Seedlip is looking to become the backbone of modern mocktails – or rather, ‘nonalc’ cocktails. It’s a shrewd move, and one that might just help Seedlip escape the same fate as Clayton’s. As Branson says, Seedlip “provides a great base for a cocktail, be that simply mixed with tonic or in non-alc cocktails.”

Seedlip Spice with tonic

A BARTENDER’S PLAYGROUND Nothing attracts a bartender more than the chance to play with a new product. “My introduction to Seedlip was when Ben walked into our bar,” says Michael Chiem, coowner of PS40, one of the first bars in Australia to work with the product. Chiem says he was drawn to “the unique process, flavour profiles, and interesting ingredients” in Seedlip. The non-alcoholic spirit was a natural fit for PS40, which also makes its own range of adult-oriented soft drinks, PS Soda. “There are plenty of people who come in looking for something interesting to drink, with and without booze,” says Chiem. That raises an interesting point: since Seedlip is so mixable, how much of it is actually being used to create non-alcoholic cocktails? Unsurprisingly, the sodafocussed PS40 sells a lot of nonalc concoctions. But at bars with a more traditional reliance on booze, like Brisbane’s Cobbler, it’s a different story. Here, Seedlip Spice is used to add woody notes to a whisky cocktail called the Woodworking Plane. According to bartender Allison, it’s one of the most popular drinks on the

menu. As for serving Seedlip itself, though: “No one asks for it by name except bartenders and brand ambassadors,” she says. At the moment, Cobbler easily sells more Seedlip in alcoholic drinks than non-alc ones. Despite that, Allison is interested to see how far Seedlip can go. “As an alternative, Seedlip could sit alongside Fino [sherry], or other low alcohol ingredients.” James Snelgrove, Seedlip’s Australian brand ambassador, sees a similar opportunity. “The growing trend of using Seedlip as a flavour modifier in drinks with alcohol is something we wholly support,” he says. Like syrups, bitters, or juices, Seedlip lets bartenders add extra flavour “without having to add alcoholic weight.” Snelgrove believes Australians are drinking less, but spending more per drink when they do buy alcohol, which has created a gap in the market for low-alcohol drinks. “With the rise of low [ABV] spritz across the country it’s great to think that bartenders are reaching for Seedlip,” he says. And Seedlip is reaching for them, too. In July, the company sponsored Nolo, a noand low-alcohol pop-up bar, at PS40 and Black Pearl. The inclusion of alcoholic drinks on the menu, albeit with a lower ABV, suggests Seedlip has found its niche. In Australia, the fact that Seedlip plays nicely with alcohol may just be its saving grace. Unlike Clayton’s, Seedlip is a bartender’s drink, and what’s popular with bartenders has a way of catching on with the drinking public. Seedlip probably won’t convince Australians to give up their booze, but if you see more pea-flavoured G&Ts around Australia, you’ll know what started the trend. BARS&clubs 39

MUCH ADO ABOUT NEIPA The IPA was at the forefront of the craft beer revolution, embracing and driving innovation and experimentation. According to Luke Robertson, this makes it the perfect launchpad for new styles – like the trendy New England IPA, or NEIPA. 40 BARS&clubs



ook at tap lists and in fridges around the country and the influence of what’s become known as “New England” IPA is immediately evident. The style that often comes with tags like “hazy” and “juicy” is predominantly all about amping up the fruity flavours of new world hops and lowering the bitterness. In the last few years, regional New England and particularly Vermontbased breweries in the USA – like The Alchemist and Hill Farmstead – became known for their unique, low bitterness IPAs that were almost the exact opposite of the West Coast IPA style that had been dominating the hop-driven beer segment for years. It didn’t take long before they were being made here in Australia and it seems like more brewers are jumping aboard the NEIPA train daily. Ian Watson, brewer at Slipstream Brewing Co. in Queensland, has been experimenting with the style since 2016 when he made a small batch at Fortitude Brewing. He had seen the style take off in the US and wanted to have a crack at it himself. He called his The Senator, after Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been photographed proudly holding cans of the Alchemist’s flagship IPA, Heady Topper. However, Watson says low bitterness, fruity IPAs have been something he’s played with since before then. While at Murray’s Brewing, he says,

their 2010 release – Big Wednesday IPA – with its hopping schedule that was 100% flavouring hops (late in the brewing process), rather than a usual bittering addition (earlier in the brewing process), was quite close to what we consider a NEIPA now. “We got criticised,” he recalls. “The first time we released it we called it an IPA but people were saying it’s not an IPA, so the next time we released it we called it a Pale Ale. I’m not saying it broke new grounds, there was probably someone else doing something similar and experimental too.” GATEWAY IPA? One of the problems with the West Coast approach that has been dominant in the IPA world is intense bitter flavours can be a little confronting for palates. Brewers are finding the new approach in NEIPAs to be more friendly and a base for familiar flavours. In Adelaide, Big Shed Brewing Concern recently re-made their GABS 2018 beer, Boozy Fruit. It’s inspired by Frosty Fruit ice blocks that the brewers were enjoying on a hot day at a brewery. They decided it might be a fun flavour to try to recreate in a beer, and that the New England style was the perfect launching pad. Co-founder, Craig Basford, says the tropical fruit and “big juicy fruitiness” aspects of the style really appeal to him.

Big Shed’s Boozy Fruit is one of the most popular examples of the NEIPA style

BARS&clubs 41

beer “That lack of bitterness probably makes it more accessible to people who aren’t into that sort of thing,” he says. “You almost can’t get more hop aroma in them, so you button off the bitterness a bit and let that hop flavour sing. That’s why I guess people love it, and that’s why I enjoy drinking them.” From a consumer standpoint, Chris Menichelli from Melbourne’s Slowbeer bottle shop says the fruit flavours in the style really appeal to drinkers new and old. He’s been running a specialty bottle shop for over a decade and in that time has found bitterness, whether from hops or from dark malt, to be the big decider if people like or dislike a beer. “[They are] big fruit forward, creamy and rounded, and without that big bitterness of a West Coast IPA, so in that respect people love them. You get that big fruit hit, but you don’t get that dry bitterness.” Bodriggy Brewing, also in Melbourne, has recently commissioned a new brewhouse and their Cosmic Microwave NEIPA was one of the first beers they put through it. Co-owner, Peter Walsh, also thinks it’s a great gateway style for people who aren’t really familiar with big, hoppy beer. “It’s an unusual fit for a lot of people.” Walsh says. “The mellowness of the mouthfeel is more approachable for someone that

BEYOND FRUIT Adding fruit into IPAs is nothing new, and brewers have been amping up the pine and citrus flavours for years with all sorts of fruit additions. However, NEIPAs have created entirely new territory for brewers. Big Shed’s Boozy Fruit goes all in with lactose (milk sugar that increases mouthfeel) and a bit of tropical fruit essence. Basford says he wanted a big hit of almost “artificial” aroma. For GABS 2018, Slipstream did a Parfait IPA. That had lactose, unmalted grain, and a bunch of mixed fruit chucked in. They also served it on nitrogen to give it an even creamier mouthfeel. 42 BARS&clubs

Sauce’s Bubble & Squeak displays the trademark NEIPA juicy haze

hasn’t drunk a lot of craft before. It’s an unusual gateway beer for people but it seems to be working.” VOLATILITY Freshness has always been king in IPAs. While the style has its roots in Great Britain colonial exporting, where extra hops were used to provide more stability and longer lasting flavour, the modern IPA was born in the West Coast of the US, and with the amount of hops added, brewers implore that “fresh is best”. With an increased focus on ‘Best Before’ and ‘Packaged On’ dates in the industry, the fresh is best mantra is becoming key to marketing hoppy styles. The NEIPA has presented a new challenge, however. With extra volatility from not only the hops, but the increased protein and starches in the haze, some breweries have found their products may not be as shelf stable as other IPAs. At Quiet Deeds in Melbourne, co-founder Patrick Alé, says that in a recent batch of their Juice Train IPA they were getting reports of dark brown beer, rather than the bright orange haze that the beer should be. “We were surprised when we

got that feedback initially and it’s been pretty random because you’d get a four pack and you might find one of the cans was a darker colour,” he says. “Even though the flavour, interestingly enough, was pretty similar.” He believes it’s a result of dissolved oxygen. While they were already trying to get it as low as possible in the finished product, he believes they need to work harder to make sure it’s a stable product on the shelf. The other concern he has is storage once it leaves the brewery. “It needs to be cold stored as much as possible, right the way through,” he says. “It’s going to be interesting to see when we get into summer again. With some retailers, they don’t treat their beer as well as they should and I’m pretty nervous about that.” At Slowbeer, Menichelli isn’t too concerned, as the style continues to fly off the shelf. “In terms of deterioration they’re not really on the shelf that long for that to happen,” he says. And that’s something echoed by Basford at Big Shed. The first day they packaged Boozy Fruit, it was sold out within four hours.

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Romance is dead



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The man behind Tom Cruise’s moves in Cocktail




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