The Rook: Cocktails with Cristiano Beretta

Since The Rook opened its doors in December 2012, Sydney has been gripped with the buzzy vibe of the CBD rooftop bar that attracts a regular influx of after-work imbibers.

From a modest four cocktail list on rotation, the cocktail menu has since evolved. Favourites such as Fear and Loathing, and Florabotanica still feature but the new list is a medley of fine spirits, eclectic ingredients and unusual bitters that come together in unique and interactive creations.

The Rook
The Rook with Cristiano Beretta

Cristiano Beretta, Bar Manager at The Rook gets his inspiration from cooking. He began his bartending career in 1996 influenced by the family-owned bar in Rovato, Italy, one hour north of Milan. “I always felt comfortable behind the bar,” he says. His career took him to London where he spent 6 years on and off working in clubs and bars. After a brief return to Italy, he worked for 6 months in Sydney’s Pyrmont Bridge Hotel before he moved to Black Pearl, one of Melbourne’s top cocktail bars. In December 2012, when the rooftop bar opened, he took up the position of Bar Manager at The Rook.

The Rook
Broken n’ Beet’n

Broken n’ Beet’n ($19) is a cocktail Cristiano has been perfecting for two years. A” Cosmo for grown-ups”, he calls it, the cocktail combines Broker’s Gin (featured in our Top 10 Gins), Campari, Solerno blood orange liqueur, beetroot and lemon myrtle. Delicious, earthy and almost savoury in character, the beetroot flavour works well with the citrus from Solerno and the bitter finish of Campari. The rosemary salt rim adds a fine balance to a complex cocktail that remains easy sipping.

The Rook
Sloe Ringing Bel

The Martini-style Sloe Ringing Bel ($19) is made with Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka, Hayman’s Sloe Gin, sugar and salt. Unfiltered vodka adds more texture and flavour while the Sloe Gin gives it a hint of fruit and a saltiness balanced with the frankincense bitters.

The Rook
Werewolves of London

If the Sloe Ringing Bel doesn’t make you sing along to Ring My Bell, the Werewolves of London could have you howling in song. This cocktail is the creation of Jason Williams, Group Manager of the Keystone Group and recent winner of the Beefeater 24 Bartender Competition which will have him competing in the global finals in London this coming November.

Tanqueray No. 10 Gin, orange curacao, lemon, peach liqueur and frankincense bitters come together in delicious bursts of citrus and gin that make for easy sipping. And we mean very easy sipping. One drink is likely to lead to another and another, so be warned. The drink has a playful and flirtatious element. For a good time, dial the number on the napkin. It’s fun and we won’t spoil the surprise.

The Rook

Release your inner scribe with the Calligraphy Cocktail ($18). This creation aims to introduce drinkers to genever – a precursor to gin – a white spirit made by blending a distillate called malt wine with a secret blend of botanicals. Bols Genever, sweet vermouth, pomegranate, grapefruit and maraschino liqueur give the light and fruity drink an initial sweetness on the palate followed by a dry bitterness and hint of spice.

The Rook
Calligraphy in Action

The cocktail draws its name form the calligraphy font on the bottle of Bols Genever and it comes served with a coloured sugar syrup and a quill with which to write on the drink.

The Rook
Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air Balloon ($20) is a cocktail that Cristiano Beretta created for the the Angostura Bartender Competition. Made with Hine ‘H’ Cognac, crème de cacao, lemon and strawberry jam, it is a delicious dessert-style drink with chocolate notes. Served with a smiley face on a balloon, this cocktail is guaranteed to make you feel good.

The Rook
Smoke & Broadswords

Smoke & Broadswords ($21) is a gentle introduction to the flavours of smoky whisky. Made with Johnnie Walker Double Black Scotch, orgeat, fino ‘perdido’ sherry and ginger liqueur, the cocktail is smoked with white jasmine tea and unveiled in front of you.

It starts as smoky-sweet from the whisky and ginger liqueur before the sherry and tea gives it a dry finish. The drink is a good choice to introduce newcomers to smoky whisky and whisky cocktails but seasoned peat lovers will find more of a tea smoke on the palate. For maximum enjoyment, inhale as you sip to make the most of aroma and taste.

The Rook
That ol’ Chestnut

That ol’ Chestnut ($19) is a take on an Old Fashion cocktail with Monkey Shoulder Scotch, chestnut liqueur (Liqueur de Chataignes), and pimento bitters. Served with a dry biscuit, the drink has the perfect balance of whisky and sweetness with a spice kick at the end – a serious yet simple drink that can convert a whisky cocktail novice or satisfy a more seasoned drinker.

The Rook
Stiff Cloud

Finish with the Stiff Cloud ($21), a flavour explosion made with Ron Zacapa 23 yo rum, amontillado sherry, leatherwood honey and chocolate bitters. Pop the pearls of fig and honey in your mouth then take a sip. Sensational.

The Rook
Cristiano Beretta

The Rook’s new cocktail menu introduces an interactive element based on theatre and presentation. But it is by no means gimmicky. The cocktails are world class and each drink is meticulously crafted, balanced and presented. Whether you’re an experimental drinker or a more seasoned cocktail connoisseur, you’re set for a memorable drinking experience that will bring you back for more.

Previous Review of The Rook here.

Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved. 

The Rook
Level R (7), 56-58 York St
Sydney NSW 2000


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.