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SUPER SIPS

December 31, 2011

Memorable cocktails that rise to the top of the list
Stories curated by and photos by Jason Rowan (except where noted)

Photo by Virginia Miller

Most publications are busy prognosticating; focused on the year ahead, projecting trends and anticipating the future. But at INSIDE F&B we decided to take a moment before rushing pell-mell into 2012 and invite you to join us in relieving some stress that always comes with looking ahead. Instead, stop and smell the proverbial roses as we take a look back at some of the spirit industry’s best drinks tasted around the world.

Simon McGoram, Drinks Editor, Australian Bartender Magazine (boozebraggart.blogspot.com/)

The best drink I had all year had to come from one of the more unlikely places in Australia – Katoomba in the Blue Mountians in NSW. Once upon a time it was known as Sydney’s playground – especially during the roaring twenties with Gatsby-like characters parading around in finery. Now the place attracts only a few weekend tourists with its beautiful art deco cafes and hotels remaining for the large part empty and falling into disrepair.

I was up there with my partner for a Valentine’s Day getaway – with February being the middle of summer down under we were expecting swelter. Instead a cool mist hung eerily over the whole town as we walked up the steps of the Carrington Hotel for a pre-prandial tipple. The hotel by the way looks like something out of The Shinning and sure enough during the middle of the week the place was empty and spooky.

We were sat next to a roaring fire in an anteroom next to the grand 1930s ballroom. I was expecting that they might manage a decent G&T but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the cocktail offering. I ordered an Old Cuban – an Audrey Saunders masterpiece that had somehow found its way to this country town. My partner had a Bramble – a Dick Bradsell modern classic from London. The drinks were good. Not exceptional. bBut it was the more the fact that in rural Australia I could order drinks created by the best bartenders of London and New York whilst being transported to almost untouched art deco setting. I thought truly cocktail culture has come of age and perhaps one of America’s greatest inventions can be enjoyed at all ends of the earth.

Stephen Myers, Illegal Mezcal
(www.ilegalmezcal.com)

Drinking a Negroni at an outdoor cafe with a beautiful girl and a great friend on the Sardinian coast as the sun set over a Phoenician ruin and a lighthouse. Rather than the 1:1:1 ratio of the drink on its own it was all the elements of the time, place, people and the great drink itself that made it my best drink for 2011.

Philip Gandevia, cocktail bartender, Eau De Vie, Sydney
(eaudevie.com.au/)

We were having a meeting at Eau De Vie, going over our recipes and making sure that our techniques were uniform. We mentioned a Bijou (equal parts gin, Dolin and Chartreuse, orange twist and discard) and I made a casual statement that of course it was always stirred. One of our team, Taka Shino, demurred, saying that he always shakes his. Not only was this interesting in terms of discovering an inconsistency but it was also something I’d never entertained for this cocktail. “Well, let’s try them,” I said and we made side-by side identical Bijous, mine stirred and his shaken. When we tasted them I was fairly shocked to discover that I preferred the shaken. It was an excellent reminder that the junior bartender can show the senior bartender something Continue Reading…

Eat Here Now

EAT HERE NOW – ADELAIDE

December 22, 2011

By Jeff Miller
All photos (except where noted) courtesy of the South Australia Tourism Commission

While it may not have Sydney’s opera house or Melbourne’s stylish reputation, Adelaide, South Australia is a culinary hidden gem, thanks in no small part to its location: because of its temperate climate and seaside location, the city of 1.2 million’s bustling with fresh fish, farm-to-table veggies, and fine wine from the nearby Barossa and Clare Valleys, each of which is also blessed with a smattering of fine restaurants. Add to that a youthful population (colleges are the lifeblood of the city’s economy), and you’ve got a city that is exploding with an ever-expanding selection of dining destinations, plus a wealth of cultural worth, with museums dedicated to Australia’s unique aboriginal culture and long-standing art scene and old-school architecture that calls to mind the gorgeous facades of classic New Orleans.

Grub wise, in-town, the food scene’s dominated by the massive Central Market, a bustling mix of chef-friendly produce stalls and specialty stores, the success of which has spawned a mini-business of farmers markets selling everything from homemade spice jam to hand-caught fresh scallops.

Photo courtesy of The Grace

Restaurant-wise, modern-looking spots like the American-influenced The Grace – The Establishment (127 The Parade, Norwood; http://www.thegrace.net.au/home.html) a slick-looking tapas spot stacked with well-heeled ladies and slim-tied men, share space with more traditional dining experiences like the one at Chianti Classico (160 Hutt St; http://www.chianticlassico.com.au/), where a hearty seafood stew reigns supreme. Still, getting into the nearby wine country’s the way to be, with outdoor, among the vines-dining at Skillagolee (email for directions; http://www.skillogalee.com.au/) worth every moment of the drive there.

For even more picks in and around Adelaide and South Australia, we asked three experts:

Photo Courtesy of The Louise

The Restaurateur: Mark McNamara is one of South Australia’s most well-respected chefs; his award-winning restaurant, The Appellation, is located at the beautiful Louise Hotel in the Barossa wine region.

Ferment Asian: “Unlike most Vietnamese restaurants that have the same giant selection cookie cutter menus, “Ferment” has a tiny seasonal card and [the chef] cooks real food. For me it’s like dining with Vietnamese friends – it’s all cooked to order with passion and the flavours burst with freshness.
(90 Murray St, Tanuda) (http://www.fermentasian.com.au/)

Fino: “Simple, honest local ingredients cooked with great skill and passion and more than a little rural Italian influence with a menu that follow the season. The wine list is again short but very sharp with some amazing wines by the glass.” (8 Hill St, Willunga) (http://www.fino.net.au/)

The Wheatsheaf Hotel: “The Wheaty” has become the bar of choice for those that like to drink good beer, wine or whiskey (they have a pretty lineup in gin and rum as well) with at least 10 beers on tap including one on a hand pulled Continue Reading…