Shaky Pete's Ginger Brew at the Beaufort in Melbourne. Photo: Eddie Jim
Even those with only the most sluggish aspirations towards finger-on-pulse status cannot have avoided the lava flow of Americana making its way into the nooks and crannies of the country's hospitality scene.
America is, after all, if not the actual birthplace of the cocktail, at least the place that treats cocktail making and quality liquor with the respect they deserve. Even better, this respect does not necessarily have to translate to po-faced seriousness.
It can actually mean fun, which is where the Beaufort comes in.
Formerly Melbourne's Clare Castle Hotel, the Beaufort has kept the excellent black-flecked, terrazzo floor of its predecessor but ditched the banks of blinding fluorescent lights to create a dim, blue-neon-lit dive bar (emulating classic American neighbourhood bars) that channels both salty old sea dog and bearded Brooklyn hipster.
The drinks list underlines the dive-bar theme, offering a series of high and low choices, all made with quality ingredients and plenty of experienced bartenderly know-how.
It starts with a list of mixed drinks that includes both South America's favourite party starter, Fernet Branca and cola, and root beer and rye alongside a couple of versions of the rum/lime/ginger beer fave the Dark and Stormy (here made with added bitters).
It's all good sloshing-back party fun that moves to another level with the "Stiff Drinks" section that's big on good, strong, classic combinations that pack a smooth but pleasantly devastating punch, such as the Boulevardier (rye, Campari and vermouth).
Beaufort owner Dave Kerr is pleased with the way locals have adopted the neighbourhood dive bar.
"We've already gathered some regulars that like to come in for a chat about their day," he says. "And then the other the day we had a girl in who sat at the bar and told me all about breaking up with her boyfriend and that was the moment when I thought we'd really made it."
Kerr believes the drink that best "captures the dream" of the Beaufort is Shaky Pete's Ginger Brew with a pickleback chaser. "We're pushing so many of them we're experimenting with kegging it on the weekends," says Kerr.
Shaky Pete's Ginger Brew
50ml ginger syrup (equal parts ginger juice and sugar)
50ml fresh lemon juice
Beer to top up (along the lines of Holgate ESB)
Shake the ginger syrup, lemon juice and gin with ice and strain into a chilled pot glass. Top up with the beer.
For the pickleback chaser: one shot of Old Crow Rye Whiskey, followed by a shot of pickle brine.
Source: Epicure, September 18, 2012