Winter is coming, and the bar scene in Melbourne is recalibrating to cater to all sorts of cocktail drinkers – from the refreshing to the warming and the smoky. We ask some of Melbourne's top mixologists which beverages best express the traits of the drinker.
Teeling's Damn Fine Hot Whiskey
You're the classic gentlemen's club, smoking jacket original. Sophisticated and refined, you have a touch of Mad Men crossed with James Bond."You're old school? Then you're the type who orders a martini or an old-fashioned over a fleeting flavour-of-the-month, someone who likes their whiskey neat, and who would sooner drink water than anything blue or green," says 1806's Kevin Griffin. "You're a class act, and you never succumb to trends."
Neither does Teeling's Damn Fine Hot Whiskey, a soothing, warm drink that has a calming effect, says Griffin.
Griffin hails from Dublin, where long, hard winters have made the Irish whiskey a popular drink for keeping the cold at bay. His creation gives it a unique twist. "Sweetness and the spices are a great combination for a hot whiskey cocktail. It's a brilliant drink to warm you up from the cold and also works very well to soothe a cold or flu. It's essentially a modern classic."
Ingredients include Teeling Small Batch, honey, sugar, fresh lemon juice, lemon peel, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, star anise pod and sprigs of fresh rosemary.
"My inspirations usually come from locations I've visited and memories related to that occasion," says Griffin. "I like to get an idea of a person's interests and what they like to do for fun.
"The Teeling Whiskey Distillery has brought back to life a once bustling whiskey-producing region in the centre of the Dublin city called the Liberties. While staying true to the traditions of Irish whiskey they are also not afraid to challenge perceptions and innovate in terms of the styles and flavour profiles people might expect. It's fantastic to see this revival."
The Teeling Damn Fine Hot Whiskey can be tasted for free at QV Melbourne's Virtual / Chill pop-up bar, June 7 – June 10, QV Square, 4pm-7pm. 1806.com.au
All Australian Negroni
You love where you live, so supporting local communities and produce is at the top of your list. You'd prefer your ingredients to have been sourced from a 100-mile radius.
Your cocktail is the All Australian Negroni, says Joshua Opie.
"It incorporates local Four Pillars Gin, which has foraged botanicals. Four Pillars are an innovative brand doing great things on our doorstep. Locals love to support them, and for good reason."
Opie's cocktail is 20 millilitres Okar Amaro, 30 millilitres Maidenii Sweet, stirred down in a mixing glass, then served over ice in a double rocks glass, with an orange twist garnish.
"Whether creating original cocktails or modifying classics, my approach is a lot of trial and error," says Opie, who started in hospitality as a bussie clearing glasses and now manages the bar at Collins Quarter. "I try different combinations of products and flavours until something sticks.
"I prefer not to read too much into existing combinations; this knowledge can cause you to restrict yourself. It's all about breaking down walls, it's more fun that way."
Collins Quarter, 86 Collins Street, Melbourne, 9650 8500, collinsquarter.com
Matcha Made in Heaven
The next big thing? You're onto it like nobody's business. No media invite list is complete without you. You know where the vibe is, and people come to you to validate the hype.
Enter Matcha Made in Heaven.
"I think of this as a drink for the young and trendy," says Georgia Poliwondzinski, who co-founded Mr and Mrs P with husband Greg. "Little girls who do pilates or the Brighton mums – and they come and drink it. It's a little bit LA lifestyle but it's people who like the illusion of a health treat."
The couple used to own Treehouse Lounge in Balaclava, where they noticed that there was a shift towards the health-conscious and the trend for matcha just took off, especially as an alternative to coffee. "It had exploded everywhere; everyone was conscious of it."
They realised that there was a space to include it in cocktails, although they don't know of anyone else who has done the same. The couple are also keeping an eye on turmeric, which is emerging as the next big spice.
Matcha Made in Heaven – with Belvedere vodka, lychee, elderflower, lime, basil, mint, ginger and Matcha Maiden – is a great fit in the cocktails menu at the bayside bar, where each concoction, named for a personality, is an ode to love.
Mr and Mrs P, 312 Bay Street, Brighton, 9596 4468, mrandmrsp.com.au
The Saint Cloud Collins
Sustainable cocktails are the future of bartending, and you're their biggest cheerleader. You're on the hunt for zero-waste bars, where nothing is plastic or single use, and no skin, seed or scrap goes into the bin.
"This is for a hybrid personality, that person who is slick and charismatic during the week but loves to have fun on the weekend," says Tommy Collins by Atlantic Group's director, Tommy Collins, where sustainability is the name of the game.
"Just like food, we adopt a minimal- to no-waste policy with our cocktail," says Collins. "Using in-season produce and using all of the fruit, veg or herb. Using the juice of the lime, then dehydrating the rest to garnish. Definitely no straws, unless they're stainless steel or reusable."
Collins' mixology journey started in Candy Bar, a cocktail bar on George Street in Edinburgh.
"I always link back to memories, smells and flavours, and good times in my life shared with friends. I love making drinks that take you back to a certain time that brings a very familiar, warm feeling."
The best drinks are a balance of sweet and sour, texture and depth, he says.
"The Saint Cloud Collins is a twist on a classic, our own Mr Collins Gin: citric acids, agave sugar, little splash of cloudy apple juice, with a lemon sorbet float and neutral popping candy to garnish."
You're into wellness in a big way, so you indulge in cocktails sparingly. Even then you'd want to know exactly what's in it, how it might derail your health program, and whether there's aloe or gingko or ginger in it.
"While most will enjoy this cocktail, the typical drinker can be described as self-aware, conscientious, curious and ethical," says Speakeasy's bartender Nick Timms, who designed the beverage with chef Jerome Vitolin. "They are mindful of their well-being, the environment and are open to trying new things."
"Winter is coming … so I wanted something warming without having too much sugar in it. A lot of winter cocktails tend to be very high in sugar and we would like our customers to indulge without the extra guilt."
Timms, who says he "usually just makes it up as he goes along", drew on flavours inspired by some of the Asian dessert ingredients and wintry spices to create the Ronald Ryan: Jameson, organic coconut milk, organic coconut cream, organic maple syrup, taro, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise and vanilla.
"My grandad would make his own Baileys when I was growing up and always tried to replicate it with no success. So I thought I could make my own version."
Speakeasy, 359 Chapel Street, South Yarra, 9824 0770, speakeasybar.com.au
Aunty Faye's Cure No. 23
You're on the lookout for the New Science that will transform the future of drinks. Today it's all about blending high-tech equipment with Michelin-starred techniques. Mixologists are trying out centrifuges, refractometers, dehydrators, carbonation tanks and other laboratory-grade tools.Yet experimental can derive from homespun. "Auntie Faye's Cure No. 23 is based on my childhood, and heading around to my auntie's house where she would always have a rhubarb and apple crumble with custard ready for us," says Waterslide's Liam Watt.
"My auntie loves a drink and, if you were ever sick, she would not hesitate with a little whiskey to cure you. So I have combined these two things, which is a fantastic winter cocktail," says Watt, who holds the Bacardi Speed Daiquiri Competition title with a record time of 9.23 seconds. He also won the Pablo Honey Miami Vice Cocktail competition in 2017.
His cocktail, served hot, contains Buffalo Trace bourbon, rhubarb syrup and still mineral water, topped off by cold homemade custard foam float.
"It is quite unique, as we have created a spiced rhubarb and apple syrup to make sure that the flavour is intense enough [it takes a minimum 24 hours to be ready]," says Watt. "We add bourbon and still mineral water and bottle them individually so that we can put them in a hot water bath, keeping them at ideal temperature. We then add our custard foam on top, which is shaken so it will float on the surface."
Waterslide, shop MR3, Southgate Centre, Southbank waterslidebar.com.au
Dry July. Abstinence. On a diet. For whatever reason, alcohol doesn't agree with you, but you still love to spend time with your tribe at the bar.
"Simple, stylish yet bubbly, the teetotaller likes to socialise, but also stays in control," says former Age Good Food Guide Bartender of the Year Thomas Kilthorp of Batch & Co.
The Swedish-born, Melbourne-based mixologist has gone from bartending at London's top cocktail bars in early 2000, to Bacardi brand ambassador, to Melbourne bar owner (Collection Bar, du Nord) to now product and brand creator of Batch & Co's non-alcoholic mixers, bottled in Australia.
"Flavours, balance and simplicity is key to creating and matching the perfect mocktail for the individual," says Kilthorp.
Batch & Co's Spiced Pear and Fig sparkling mix has a hint of cardamom, vanilla cinnamon and cloves. "This takes me back to my childhood in Sweden when all of these flavours often oozed from my grandmother's kitchen.
"The non-alcoholic spritz is perfect for the winter months. The fig, pear and spices warm the soul," says Kilthorp.
As a cocktail, "this drink becomes the ultimate 'spritz' when 60 millilitres of riesling is added."
Batch & Co, $14.95 per 500ml bottle, batchandco.com.au and Dan Murphy's
Sand Hill Road's bottled negroni. Photo: Supplied
You're constantly on the move, whether with a backpack or a business case. Your nomadic instincts and world-weary sophistication have led you to most far-flung parts of the globe, where you've sampled the best cuisines and drink concoctions. You've got a good sense of multicultural flavours.
The drink that best expresses you? The Bottled Negroni, says Kevin Peters, Group Bar Manager for Sand Hill Road, which owns eight venues across Melbourne, including Garden State Hotel and Richmond Club Hotel.
"No matter where you are in the world you can always walk into a bar and order a negroni. While I was working in NYC at Bathtub Gin, I fell in love with enjoying a negroni as my knock-off drink at the end of my shift," says Peters.
"When I travel, I will always seek out new bars around the world. If I see a negroni on their menu, whether the classic or a house twist, I just have to try it. On my travels there has been negroni-voids periods, and feeling the need to fill these voids we have developed a Bottled Negroni for any time."
Smoking Marshmallow Colada
Smoke and mirrors are your bag. You love showmanship because it's about the performance as well as the flavours. You want the mixologist to create the drink in front of you, complete with fire, ice and fog.
"In designing a cocktail for the theatrical type, it's important the traits are highly visible – even a little exaggerated – so the unique personality shines through," says Grant Collins.
Collins, an award-winning UK bar manager of the year and UK bar of the year (Zander) who now runs Gin Lane Sydney, Zephyr Bar and Hyatt Regency, created the cocktails at Adelphi's Om Nom Kitchen.
The stunning list is as Instagram-showy as it is heady – from the Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired Nitro Tea Party, to the popcorn-and-striped topped Netflix and Chill to the Champagne Bubble Bath, served in a bathtub with bobbing mini ducks.
But it's the Smoking Marshmallow Colada that gets Collins' vote as the ultimate theatrical drink. "The recipe was based off a classic colada, but with a unique twist: marshmallow-infused rum is the base as per the classic. But then we add Madagascar vanilla bean syrup-toasted marshmallow syrup and, of course, coconut."
The performance comes in the next step: smoking it in a cloche with a toasted marshmallow hickory haze.
"With this drink the inspiration was originally historical, using the 1954 Ramon Marrero classic as a reference," Collins says. "This is an all-time hotel classic, created in the classic five-star Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico. It made sense to recreate it with a modern and funky twist that engaged all the senses at the Adelphi Hotel, a hotel with a great deal of personality."
Om Nom Kitchen, Adelphi Hotel, 187 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 8080 8827, omnom.kitchen