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GIN MARE MEDITERRANEAN GIN ($14)
The team at the bar like this gin because it’s herbal and aromatic. It can
be enjoyed with tonic, and garnished with rosemary, olives or even capsicum.
OPIHR ORIENTAL SPICED GIN ($16)
This reminds me of eating samosas as a child. Imagine your favourite Indian
curry, and all that coriander, cardamom and cumin.
DARNLEY’S VIEW SPICED GIN ($14)
There aren’t too many gins like this one. Lots of warming spices like cinnamon, cloves,
and a touch of nutmeg. It’s a spirit that makes me think of Christmas pudding.
103 Francis Street,
Once shunned as a drink of ill repute
(see also: ‘mother’s ruin’), gin is enjoying
its new life as a born-again spirit. One of the
locals leading the gin renaissance is Frisk, Michael
Cheang’s cosy Northbridge watering hole that boasts
a collection of some 250 juniper-flavoured spirits.
“Gin is versatile and nearly everyone enjoys it,” says Michael. “Before we
opened, I had noticed that, in bars with larger selections, people tended to drink
less but better. That works for us. It gives us time to serve and educate customers
instead of just pumping out drinks.”
Although London-based brands continue to dominate the gin market, new-wave
global distillers have reenergised this corner of the liquor cabinet, chief among them
the brilliant West Winds Gin from Margaret River.
While many drinkers continue to get their juniper hit via a gin and tonic,
the current interest in craft cocktails has made gin an indispensible part of the
modern bartender’s toolkit.
511 Beaufort Street, Highgate
0418 187 708, elpublico.com.au
Bartender-about-town Mitch Keane likes his tequila. So much so that he’s taken on the
bar manager gig at El Público, primarily to immerse himself – figuratively, we’re hoping
– in his favourite warm-weather tipple.
“When I think summer, it’s always been margaritas and tequila,” says Mitch. “I don’t
think there’s a better spirit to drink in the heat.”
Although tequila is the pin-up boy of the cactus-juice set, he believes the time
is right for Mexico’s other agave-based spirits to shine. Mezcal has already
started its charge – while tequila is distilled from blue agave and is only made in
selected Mexican states, mezcal comes from an agave called maguey and can be
made anywhere in Mexico. Newcomers like raicilla (rye-SEE-ya), sotol and bacanora are
preparing for their time in the sun, too.
“I always stick to the classics, so
for me, it has to be a dry martini
with olives,” Michael says.
“At the moment, I’m enjoying
Maidenii. It’s an Australian
vermouth made with 12 native
botanicals like sea parsley
and wattle seed. Each of the
company’s vermouths is made
with a different grape variety.”
“ Margaritas and palomas are
great summer drinks,” Mitch says.
“Using a big triple sec is one of
the keys to a snappy margarita.
We use Patrón Citrónge, an
agave-based orange liqueur
from Mexico. It’s not as sweet as
Cointreau so we add some agave
nectar to really give it lift.”
FORTELEZA REPOSADO ($14)
More of a sipper than a mixer, this tequila, made with stone-crushed agave, is just
delicious. Bang for buck, this really jumps out for me. Absolutely incredible.
ALIPUS SAN JUAN ($18)
Mezcal has always been explained to me as insanely smoky tequila, but this has lighter
smoke, better depth, body and a real earthiness to it, too.
LA VENENOSA SIERRA DEL TIGRE ($16)
This raicilla is like a tiger’s claw and it’s intensely graphic in the way it grabs you.
Lightly aged, without any oaky character, there’s this real juiciness from the agave,
plus all this amazing character and flavour you don’t immediately notice with
tequila. Tiny production, too.
Perth whisky drinkers are spoiled for choice. Alabama Song (232 William Street,
Northbridge) and Old Faithful (86 King Street, Perth, oldfaithfulbar.com.au)
are two of the bars hanging their flat caps on American whiskey, while Tsunami Ko
(20 Glyde Street, Mosman Park, tsunamiko.com) is home to one of the state’s
choicest Japanese whisky and shochu collections. The guys and girls at Helvetica
(Howard Lane, Perth, helveticabar.com.au), meanwhile, continue to excel at great
drinks and warm service.
So, about those rum joints we mentioned earlier. Hula Bula Bar (12 Victoria
Avenue, Perth, hulabulabar.com) remains the city’s gold standard for tiki-inspired
drinking, while the shelves at Sneaky Tony’s (101 James Street, Perth) groan under
the weight of the bar’s mighty rum stocks. Finally, gin drinkers should seek out
additional juniper-laced refreshment at the verbosely named Enrique’s School for
to Bullfighting (484 Beaufort Street, Highgate, enriques.com.au).
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