Bar Week, traditionally a trade and industry event, opened to the public for the first time this year with a Drinks Fest, seminars, bar tours, a sailing event and a rooftop BBQ followed by a trade day.
This article presents the highlights from both consumer and trade days which Gourmantic attended.
The Kraken Rum stand with giant tentacles had you stopping in awe. Kraken Rum is a two year old spiced rum from Trinidad with vanilla and cloves as the main spices. It’s very dark in colour which comes from the use of heavily charred barrels and spice. The rum is good in Espresso Martinis which brings out the sweetness, in Mai Tai or even sipped neat.
Havana Club Embassy
Arguably the most social stand was the amazing Havana Club Embassy where the energy was incredible. The design of the stand used natural timbers, with real mint leaves and Cuban style corrugated roofing.
There were Mojitos, Daiquiris and Cuban Libre, a lime squeezing competition and authentic Cuban music that drew the crowds.
“A classic Cuban cocktail deserves a classic Cuban rum,” Karel Papi Reyes Brand Ambassador for Havana Club explained.
We had a taste of the Havana Club Selection de Maestro, 45% ABV, aged for 10 to 14 years and blended in white American oak – a sipping rum to be savoured on its own.
Bulleit Bourbon was started by Augustus Bulleit in the 1880s and is now made by his descendant. It has a unique high proportion of rye, along with special strains of yeast, which give it a bold and spicy character with a smooth, clean finish. The bourbon starts sweet then finishes dry. Good on its own or in a mixed drink or cocktail.
Bulleit 95 Rye is made from 95% rye and 5% malted barley, aged and matured in charred American oak barrels for a minimum of 4 years. The rye whiskey is spicy, dry and complex, with a long smooth finish. Good in an old fashioned cocktail or a Dry Manhattan.
Bulleit also have specialty pickles to be enjoyed with the whiskey. Bulleit Bourbon and Bullei Rye were by far the standout products of the show.
Vanguard Luxury Brands
Vanguard General Store
You could easily lose yourself at Vanguard with their range of spirits. From the Parisian elegance of the St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur stand to the Vanguard General Store showcasing several of their brands.
St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Calle 23 Tequila is a highland tequila from Jalisco created by French-born biochemist Sophie Decobecq who was present at the show. She makes three type of Tequila: Blanco, unaged with agave notes and ripe fruit character, Reposado, rested for 8 months in ex Jack Daniels barrels, slightly oaky but retains the agave character and Anejo, aged for 16 months in ex Jack Daniels barrels, with more wood character and a silky smooth finish.
Sophie Decobecq and Calle 23 Tequila
Their Aviation Gin is lavender driven, with floral and citrus notes. It is made with rye and has a creamy mouthfeel. Campo de Encanto Pisco is a new product in the range, distilled only once with nothing added, not even water.
Aviation Gin is featured in our Top 10 Gins article.
Manuel Terron, Midori
Midori’s signature green colour could be spotted from anywhere. Over at their large stand, cocktails were shaken and stirred. We had the pleasure of having Manuel Terron, Global Brand Ambassador make his Midori Midriff. Dubbed as the “anti Bloody Mary”, it is a breakfast/brunch style cocktail made with Midori, vodka, vanilla liqueur, orange juice and natural yoghurt which gives it a little sourness that cuts through the sweetness. Delicious.
Gin Mare is an unusual gin from Barcelona. It is distilled with olives, thyme, rosemary and basil. The distillation takes place separately then the spirits are blended together to create a Mediterranean style gin that is good in a Dirty Martini with picked green tomatoes.
Gin Mare is featured in our Top 10 Gins article.
Jared Plummer, Jim Beam
The Jim Beam stand had beautiful women with Jared Plummer, Brand Ambassador, luring visitors away from the traditional Jim Beam and Cola and into the taste of Jim Beam Cherry and Jim Beam Honey. Jim Beam Cherry is made with the 4 yo Jim Beam expression with a black cherry infusion and is surprisingly sweeter than the Jim Beam Honey which is defined as a Bourbon liqueur. Both are suitable in cocktails and mixed drinks.
Ketel One Bar Tours
Simon McGoram and Alex Adams
You may know them as Booze Braggart (Simon McGoram) and Ms Darlinghurst (Alex Adams) on Twitter. The dynamic duo are the expert hosts of Ketel One Bar Tours, educating people about Sydney’s bar scene.
At the stand, they had bartenders on rotation from several bars where their tours are held. John Toubia from Grasshopper prepared No 9 cocktail, Andres Walters from Grandma’s mixed a healthy 1976 Martini with beetroot juice, Jonothan Carr from the Wild Rover had the Polynesian Punch, and Harriet Leigh from the Hazy Rose was serving up DIY Bloody Mary’s on the trade day.
With Bob Nolet (right)
If your timing was right on the general Public Day, you may have spotted Bob Nolet, 11th generation of the Nolet family (Ketel One Vodka) at the stand.
Schweppe:s L Platonic Tonic, R Blood Orange and coriander Collins
Over at the Schweppes stand, it was new and colourful packaging for the 200ml bottles. Designed for one drink and for making cocktails at home, the team including Dr Phil (Phil Gandevia of the Roosevelt) was busy with cocktails such as the Platonic Tonic and Blood Orange and Coriander Collins.
The new packaging is certainly eye catching, and with 200ml there is no wastage when it comes to mixing drinks at home.
Campari were serving up Americano Campari and Cinzano Rosso, Espresso Martini with Skyy Vodka and demystifying the Aperol Spritz with the ratio 3 Parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, 1 part Soda Water. Campari is launching a cocktail studio online which is an on premise initiative.
Marie Brizzard range
Marie Brizzard is a renowned for liqueurs dating back to 1755. The company is based in Bordeaux and through Fine Wine Partners in Australia, they showcased the range including the 3 latino range (Manzanita, Watermelon, Coconut) which have lower ABV at 17% alcohol. The Watermelon Mojito is sure to be popular this summer, so keep an eye out for the brand.
Thiago Santos at Funkin stand
The Funkin stand was promoting a range of all natural, preservative free fruit puree with a long shelf life. New to Australia, it has been available in the UK for 12 years.
666 Butter Vodka
The butter and vodka are heated together, then chilled to zero degrees to remove the solids. Then it is sterilised, clarified, flitered and cut with Cape Grim Water before it is bottled. The vodka has a butter aftertaste and a lingering mouthfeel and can be used in a Martini, 2 parts vodka to 1 part Noilly Prat, served with olives.
Compañía Pisquera de Chile
Pisco Sours were the go at the Compañía Pisquera de Chile stand with Pisco Mistral, Pisco Control C and Pisco Moai Tres Erres Reservado, presented in a fantastic bottle that replicates the Rapa Nui sculptures in the Pacific Islands.
Aged Pisco, aged in barrels for a minimum of 6 months is a little like Cognac and best suited for sipping.
Monkey Shoulder blended whiskyoffered5 minute massages but it was the dapper gentlemen working the stand in their Monkey Shoulder vests that stole the show.
Rekorderlig Cider had just released an orange and ginger flavour, not as sweet as other ciders in the rangeas the ginger cuts through the sweetness.
Perrier & Monin
Over at the Perrier stand, it was a Nitro punch with Bulleit Bourbon, Monin pomegranate, passionfruit, lemon juice topped with Perrier.
West Winds Gin
West Winds Gin Dirty Harry (not on taste) is an export strength gin (44%ABV) which comes in a magnum, hence the name, the Dirty Harry. West Winds Gin produce the Cutlass Gin and Sabre gin.
Kunstmann is a beer brewed in Valdivia, Chile by descendants of German immigrants strictly according to the 1516 German purity law: absolutely natural, with prime quality and very important, with fresh and crystalline water coming from the mountains of the region. They produce Cerveza Lager, a lighter and easy drinking style and the Torobayo Ale.
Meukow Cognac was recently introduced to the Australian market, a spirit that was developed by 2 Russian brothers in Cognac. They had a vanilla infused cognac and Xpresso, which can be sipped on ice or used in an Espresso Martini.
Last but not least, you would have seen the Bundaberg Distillatorium as you stepped throughthe entrance to Bar Week at the OPT in Circular Quay. The interior is a veritable tribute to Australia’s iconic rum.
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There were several seminars and masterclasses on both days, and our top two picks were the Sensational Single Malts with Dan Woolley and the Tequila session with Phil Bayly on the general public day.
Sensational Single Malts with Dan Woolley
Dan Woolley, World of Whisky Ambassador, presented a seminar which included a tasting of three single malt whiskies from the Lowlands, Highlands and Islay.
Auchentoshan 12 yo is a lowlands whisky known as the Glasgow Malt, or the spirit of Glasgow. It means corner of the field in Gaelic. Triple Distilled (not twice), the whisky is aged in ex Bourbon casks and ex oloroso sherry casks. Whisky gets 100% of its colour and 75% of its flavour from the oak barrel, which highlights the importance of oak in whisky making. Auchentoshan 12 yo has a little spice, vanilla, cinnamon and dried fruit on the nose. It is a little sweet, very smooth and soft on the palate.
From the Highlands comes the Dalmore Cigar Malt, asingle malt with a red hue due to being aged in ex Matusalem sherry casks and premier cru cabernet sauvignon. It has liquid toffee on the nose, with vanilla and cinnamon and dried fruit. At 44% ABV, it is velvety smooth and reflective of a Highland style: sweet, dried fruit, prunes dry finish from the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Laphroaig Quarter Cask isan Islay whisky aged using ex Makers Mark bourbon casks which have the best quality oak. Islay has 8 distilleries, and the whisky produced there is known to be smoky, spicy and muscular type of whisky. After ageing for 7 to 8 years, they break the barrel down, remove 5 staves and rebuild it into a smaller size which gives more surface contact. It is further aged for 7 months then bottled at 48% non-chill filtered. On the nose and palate, it has loads of character with smoke, iodine and salt, the latter due to the location of the distillery near the water.
Why Everyone Should Love Tequila with Phil Bayly
Phil Bayly of Café Pacifico in Sydney is a renowned expert in Tequila and in this seminar, he presented an introduction to tequila with a tasting of three different styles, Blanco, Reposado and Añejo.
Some highlights of the presentation included some facts about the agave plant which takes 8 years to grow and is an indigenous plant to Mexico. Pulque, which may have been the predecessor to tequila, is the fermented juice of the agave plant and was used for religious purposes.
The valley of tequila lies 1500m above sea, and higher temperatures increase the starch in the plant and yield a sweeter, more fruity and floral tequila vs the more earthy, vegetal and dry style of the lowlands.
The piñas, from which tequila is made, are about 35 to 40 kilos in weight but their content and starch are more important than their weight. They ripen when they’re ready and they’re a clone of the mother plant with no sexual reproduction.
A tasting of Blanco Tequila followed, unaged, unwooded, a spirit that is a great expression of the agave. Reposado Tequila has wood elements, notes of vanilla, nut, chocolate, with a pale golden colour that comes from ageing in wood. Añejo Tequila is aged in ex bourbon barrels whereas Extra Añejo is aged for a minimum of 3 years in oak, and with a longer exposure yields, deep, softer and richer flavours.
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This concludes the highlights of the Drinks Fest days. The rest of the story is told through a photo gallery on the Gourmantic Facebook page.
More to come in the Bar Week Review 2012.
Gourmantic attended Bar Week Drinks Fest as media guests.
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