Chad Hanson goes back to the future and makes a hover board for his drink

Chad Hanson with his drink, The Sapphire Serve.

Last July, as part of the Bombay Sapphire Glasshouse Project, 60 of Australia’s most creative bartenders from around Australia competed for their chance to win the $20,000 Bombay Sapphire Creator Grant. Bartenders were challenged to invent a concept either for themselves, their customers, venue or the industry, whilst showcasing Bombay Sapphire Gin. They had to focus on the themes of sustainability, liquid, design and overall experience.

Chad Hanson — pictured above — was one of those who attended the inaugural Australian  staging of the Bombay Sapphire Glasshouse Project. They were treated to a couple of stirring creative sessions, hosted by a couple of special guests from the creative community: Maximillian Malone, a mosaic and collage artist who creates awe-inspiring compositions, and Sarah Rowan, who captivates audiences with her speed painting ability.

With their amazing artistic abilities, Malone and Rowan shared their inspirations and influences with the 60 next generation bartenders to spark their creative energy.

This year, the first ever Creator Grant winner is Chad Hanson, owner and operator of Electra House in Adelaide.  As part of the winning prize, Chad’s idea has been brought from concept to reality, launching at Electra House in a world-first.

Chad’s idea takes inspiration from old western movies, looking to bring the iconic ‘drink sliding down the bar’ move into the 21st century by using quantum levitation.

Here, we hear from Hanson himself about what the experience was like and where his inspiration came from.

Where did the inspiration come from?
It’s definitely my old boy’s love for western movies — like the old surly dude walks into the bar, just before picking who he’s going to kill and he looks at the bartender who slides this brown liquor from one end of the bar into his hands. There’s that, and being an 80s kid and growing up with Back to the Future and everybody’s obsession with the hoverboard.

Tell us about quantum levitation?
I first came across quantum levitation randomly probably six years ago, just through bored Google searching — you know what it’s like, you sit there for five minutes and then the next thing you know it’s an hour and a half later, and you’ve got no idea how you got there.

So you know how two magnets repel against each other? This is some very, very strong magnets, which are about an inch by an inch [in size], and can pull weight of about 25 kilograms each. To put that into perspective if you put them 30 centimetres apart they are going to collide at such force that it shatters them into a million pieces. It’s intense.

The guys creating it went through 40 of them accidentally trying to put them into place.

So you start with the magnetic track and then you’ve got what’s called a super conductor — the easiest way to explain it is just to call it a superconductor and you can look it up. It’s really complicated. But basically what this does is that once it is cooled down to below minus 200 degrees, it then enables the magnetic field to penetrate through it rather than bounce off it and literally traps it in space and time.

It’s a real life hoverboard.

As soon as I saw it I thought how cool it would be to levitate a drink around a customer, this coaster with a beverage on it — tap it and you watch this drink just float by. How cool? It’s the most technically advanced lazy susan on the planet!

Then this initiative was launched by Bombay — the Bombay Sapphire Creators Grant — which as soon as I heard of it, and was invited to be a part of it, I thought that this idea that is in the back of my head was perfect for it.

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What has the experience been like pulling this together?
It has been really cool. It has been very exciting to see something that is just an idea come to fruition. We get to levitate a drink down a bar, which is cool! If we could make the magnetic strip the length of the bar, we could actually get it going the whole way.

What were the Stir Creativity sessions like?
It was definitely eye opening. Personally I had this in my mind for a while, and it made sense and just came together, but the Bombay Stir Creativity lunch was amazing. Seeing that level of gastronomy when you’re talking about creating cocktails, and seeing the artistry in a different form to what you’ve ever seen, it was definitely inspiring.

It was a pretty quick turnaround, right?
Yeah, the guys only had a few months of R&D. They had to build everything from scratch and to see what they’ve come up with in a really short period of time is pretty cool. But with a little more time for R&D? The original concept was to recess the magnets into the bar so that it is completely hidden, and you come up with this coaster and drop the drink on there and slide it along and just blow people’s minds. Either way, though, it’s a step in the right direction.

Tell us about the drink you’re serving.
It’s called the Sapphire Serve. It’s very much in line with our cocktail and sustainability ethos. We’ve used some leftover pineapple fronds and we’ve sous-vide that into Bombay Sapphire; we’ve got butterfly pea flower tea — there’s no acid in this drink, because it would change the colour of the butterfly pea from blue to purple and I wanted the Bombay blue; it’s got some dry curacao, a local fig aperitif, a quick absinthe rinse, and garnished with chervil so that it’s really herbaceous and bright blue. 

Because blue drinks should be back!

The unveiling of Chad Hanson’s winning entry was held at Electra House in Adelaide last February.

And for those who haven’t been here, tell us a bit about Electra House here in Adelaide.
What do we do? We’re a large, multi-story complex, we like to consider ourselves like a mini-Ivy of Adelaide. We have the bar, beer garden, and a new lounge on the ground floor, followed by an award-winning modern asian restaurant and a function space on level two. It’s an old, beautiful building, originally built in 1902 — it’s been known as Electra House for the last five years.  

Bombay Sapphire Glasshouse Project returns in 2020

The Bombay Sapphire Glasshouse Project will bring together bartenders for a series of midyear workshops designed to push the boundaries of cocktail creativity.
In order to win the Bombay Sapphire Creator Grant, the bartenders will be challenged to invent a concept either for themselves, their customers, venue or the industry, with the only requirement being the inclusion of a Bombay Sapphire cocktail.

For more details and to get involved, register your interest with Peter Hollands at