We went to a cocktail making class, late Saturday arvo, for a friend’s birthday party. It was a fun way to celebrate and it made me try a few drinks I wouldn't normally come at. We all met up in the piano bar of the Emporium Hotel - a relatively new place in Southbank. Very swish, and nicely air conditioned on a sweltering sub tropical afternoon with storms building up out to the west.
Jane and I threw down a couple of big homemade hamburgers before we arrived, not really trusting in the proffered antipasto plates to lay a foundation. The little plates of meat and pickled veggies and breadsticks were very nice, but no, they were not to be relied upon when it came to soaking up the three cocktails we were learning to make.
I say ‘learning’, but really, we just stood at the bar while the guy put them together and explained each step. Our contribution involved either shaking or stirring at the end.
First up was a spicy Asian tequila thingy. (Sorry, I didn't take notes. I am a very poor student.) It had tequila, obviously. And lemon grass, and kaffir lime leaves, and maybe some gin, and some mystery liquor, and long shot of coconut milk. Oh, and green chilli. Sounds confronting, but it all came together nicely. Like a Thai vegetable curry prepared by a degenerate wino.
I could easily imagine sipping two or three on a sultry Brisbane afternoon.
The second drink was a cousin of the Negroni, with Campari stepping forward as the main element. I paid very little heed to this drink as I don't much care for the bitterness of Italy's red devil. One tweak the bartender did suggest was a fat twist of orange peel which cut through the bitter notes, a little. It was a sipping drink.
We'd rolled in at four o'clock for our class, and found the bar reasonably quiet. A piano player, a young woman in a striking red full length dress, started tinkling the ivories at five and the punters began to show themselves. It was a mixed crowd with couples in black tie and sparkly formal gowns, mixed in with tourists and locals in shorts and tee shirts.
Seriously people. Dress for the occasion.
The highlight of our particular occasion was the 'Mediterranean' Martini at the end. 45ml of rosemary infused gin, 15ml of Lillet, and another mystery liqueur. Also, a slice of cucumber.
While the barkeep was taking us through the construction, I asked him about his preferred method for making a Vesper Martini. It matched my own, so once we'd necked the first martini, I went back for a second. This time, courtesy of Ian Fleming.
After that, I hit the water pretty hard. I had the gym in the morning and a couple of thousand empty calories to burn off.
because of lockdown and not spending much money on petrol i invested in good bottles and started experimenting. I had never had a whiskey sour for example. Man, that was a revelation. And my local distiller StonePine Distillery makes the best black spiced rum i have ever had in my life (called Dead Mans Drop). Making a mexican mule with my homemade alcoholic ginger wine was also fantastic. But seeing the ginger wine comes in at 11% and i used good tequila 1800 Anejo you can really only have one . . or two. The temps are only just rising here (think just making 20deg) i am looking forward to a nice afternoon to sit back and watch/listen to the birds on one of those.
What a delightful way to spend an afternoon.
Beats my Zoom magic party with a bunch of 5 and 6 year olds.
I stayed at the Emporium a number of times as my employer owned and then sold a business walking distance from there. Really enjoyed it, especially for the cocktail bar.
I have discovered a trick. Go down there when it is quiet, order a cocktail and then get chatting with the bartender about cocktails. Once you have established that you appreciate cocktails but have no cocktail creative abilities, drop the key question "do you have any of your own that you are working on?". They will absolutely want to show off and will make you one for free and if it's a good day, you could easily turn that into 3 or 4 free cocktails.
Worked for me on a few different visits and I like to think it also helped the bartenders night go a bit quicker.