Over the past few months two prominent Melbourne bars have reached noteworthy milestones and I wanted to take a few minutes to congratulate them on their achievements. First up ,we see one of Australia’s founding modern-day cocktail bars, The Gin Palace, celebrate an amazing 15 years of operation. Most people should be well aware of this Melbourne institution and the man behind it Mr. Vernon Chalker.
In 1682, rum was big business in the American colonies. So much so that, when faced with the imminent arrival of a “hundred or more” heretic Quakers, Puritan clergyman Cotton Mather thought he could sell them for rum. “Much spoil can be made by selling the whole lot to Barbadoes [sic],” he wrote, “where slaves fetch good prices in rum and sugar”. Such was the appeal of rum – the New England colonists were crazy for it.
Aromatic bitters: it is a trickier category for tastings than most, and requires a little more experience as bartender than do other drinks categories. Just as well we were at the Hazy Rose, in Darlinghurst. We sourced a surprise for this the issue, with the Hazy Rose crew among the first bartenders in Australia to get their hands on the Dale DeGroff Pimento Bitters.
This guy was nominated for Rookie of the Year at the Bar Awards this year and has a damn impressive resume for someone with less than two years ‘tending stick. Introducing, Samuel Ng.
The Australian Bartender magazine Bartender of the Year Competition, sponsored by Ketel One, is a bartending challenge that always throws up a few surprises. 2012 proved to be no exception with the calibre of bartenders involved proving to be outstandingly high.
In 1920’s Sydney, if you drank at a pub and hurt yourself it was you’re your own fault. One Christmas Eve morning in 1927, a naval petty officer fell 25 feet from the second floor of the Brooklyn Hotel, suffering “a probable fracture of the spine, fractured skull, and fractured jaw”. Today that might spark a media and public outcry. Instead, the Sydney Morning Herald at the time pithily reported that “it is believed he overbalanced on the railing.” Things, of course, have changed.
It used to be, only a few years ago, that a night out in Manly, home of the silvertails, sandy beaches and surfers, involved heading down to the Corso and into a big ol’ beer barn. There’d you’d order beer, if you were a guy (it’s a beer barn, after all), and you were likely wearing a T-shirt.
Which is not to say that is bad, because there is a time and a place for that. But that was all there was. And it couldn’t be further from the truth today.
It’s probably one of the most common ingredients in classic cocktails, however vermouth is most likely the stuff that you end up cleaning of your bar mats! It hasn’t always been this way, with the Vermouth Cocktail considered quite a hit back in the late 1800s, but sadly today you’ll not often hear, “Barkeep – a wine glass of dry vermouth, chilled and garnished with lemon. Up.” Hopefully however after reading this month’s Trend piece you’ll be more inspired, confident and determined to offer up a vermouth focused cocktail – or tasting flight – to your bar’s tipplers.
Never been to Tales of the Cocktail? Then you have to put it in your bucket list. Having celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, Tales has become the most happening event on the planet.