Monday, 22 November 2010

Forgotten ?

Forgotten cocktails, the latest Mixology Monday offering, set by rock & rye 

I have apparently forgotten to include this in an earlier blog post which is a massive oversight on my part. The Claridge from the Savoy Cocktail book is practically the house cocktail. We found it after being presented with a bottle of apricot brandy. I've shown it to a couple of bartenders who haven't seen it before, so I think it counts as forgotten.

So what is it beside apricot brandy ?

2 pts Gin
2 pts Dry vermouth
1 pt   Triple sec
1 pt   Apricot brandy

Stir it down over ice & pour into a well chilled glass.

The apricot, orange & vermouth work really well together, the gin provides punch and the apricot lingers nicely. I don't normally garnish it, but a twist of orange or lemon won't hurt. Its pretty versatile, you can twiddle the proportions to make it drier or sweeter depending if you are serving before or after food.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Eau de Vie Sydney

The recommendation for Eau de Vie came from the guys at 1806. It's not the easiest bar in the world to find being hidden at the back of the Kirketon, a boutique hotel in Darlinghurst.

Go in, cross the foyer ignoring the bar to your left, pass through the forbidding black doors with nothing on them,  show no interest in the toilets and head through more anonymous doors to find a cosy low lit bar. Alternatively stroll up to the desk and ask for Eau de Vie, brooking no refusal.

The trouble is absolutely worth it. These guys know their stuff and have a very well stocked bar. We had a quick look at the menu & then callously discarded it, after all competent bar staff had recommended it. That and we were ordering classics, if they weren't good we would be leaving.

A gimlet, A Manhattan & A Gibson. The Manhattan was of course to the same exacting specifications as ever. The Gimlet provoked discussion, this one was made with Rose's cordial& lime juice and proportions were discussed. The Gibson was served on the side, some thing I wholly approve of, it keeps the gin cold but doesn't dilute it.

From there things got pretty technical, Old fashioneds were talked about & made, and we dived into the odder areas of some old books which led to me drinking a Hanky Panky. An all but forgotten variant on a perfect Martini that requires the addition of Fernet Branca. Its a damn fine drink and if you can get Fernet or have a friendly bar that has it give this a go (I'll be talking about another forgotten drink tomorrow).

What can I say, its a comfortable, well stocked bar staffed by people that know their drink.  The prices are what you'd expect, some of the top shelf additions will push the cost over $50 (aus) per drink, but you don't have to go there. Oh the desk staff ? They are really friendly & told us where to get some great seafood.

Friday, 5 November 2010

1806 Melbourne

Now with photo.

A quick trawl of the internet suggested that 1806 was the place for drinks in Melbourne. So we went along.
The main drinks list is here but you know how it goes with a decent bar, the menu is just a guideline in order to put them to the test I unleashed my secret weapon, a drink companion who is very particular about the way their Manhattan gets made. This got us a lot of bartender attention straight away. The house rye and the antica formula vermouth are both known to us but they swap orange bitters for a more usual bitters, they garnish with orange peel too. The verdict was a very nice drink but not what we were looking for in a Manhattan. The first round down we decided to ditch the menu entirely and have a go on our house cocktail "the Claridge" (which I need to post about soon as I can't believe I've missed it out) . This seemed to be a bit of a revelation to the bar staff, who were quite taken with it.

I bravely asked where to drink in Sydney (there is apparently a bit of rivalry between the 2 cities, but it seemed pretty insignificant compared to the Manchester/Liverpool one) and they recommended "Eau de vie" which gets a post of its own. Of course it would be rude not to make a return visit to tell them how we got on.

This time we went straight for the menu  I had there back to back Martini which is really 2 drinks a vodka Martini & a gin one. They come ungarnished but with a tray of garnishes for you to add your own. I had to ask for onions though. Also they had the soup dumplings from their food menu, what can be better than a comfortable bar an ice cold Gibson & a plate of soup dumplings ?

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Scoff a Cephalopod (*)

Well I'm back from my journeying and its time to get things rolling again.

Recently I've been in Australia, mainly Victoria but a couple of side trips out of state. Part of the reason was to go & see the MotoGP at Phillip Island, and that unlikely place is where I'm going to start.

Anyone who has been to a major sporting event will know the disappointment of high price low quality food, and the guilty pleasure it can bring. Phillip Island turned that on its head, yes it was mainly fried and grilled stuff prepared in a van, but the prices weren't the expected gouge. Risking life & limb in the pursuit of taste I found a fish & chip van doing salt & pepper squid. I bravely plunged in. Salt & pepper squid is one of those things, if done right its truly delicious, if not pretty repellent. The first bite proved they knew what they were doing.The squid was al dente and the batter a lovely soft salt & pepper coating. I was pretty surprised, but very pleasantly so.

Later on in town I saw a sign to gladden the heart
"Grilled baby octopus on a stick". I had to have some (and who wouldn't ?). Unfortunately they'd sold out so instead I got a $6(aus) bag of fried octopus.

That's it just there. Quite a substantial portion, for what was meant to be a pre-lunch snack. In fact it tided us over till an earlyish tea. Once again the octopus was well cooked, the seasoned spicy batter adding its own crunch.

Two happy seafood experiences from places I'd not normally expect to be pulling off some of the trickier seafoods quite so well.

(*)Sorry about the title, what can I say, I had a misspent youth.