Trends may come and go, but qual­ity ar­ti­sanal spir­its and bou­tique pro­duc­ers are here to stay, says Mike Ben­nie.

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Mike Ben­nie pre­dicts your next tip­ple.

RO­MANO E LIDIA LEVI GRAPPA ALLA CAMOMILLA 2014, $169 A re­mark­able grappa that comes from an old fam­ily recipe, this is a wildly aro­matic, gen­tly flo­ral spirit in­fused with chamomile flow­ers. It’s a won­der­ful drink on its own, best en­joyed after din­ner. BROUHAHA RASP­BERRY SAI­SON (CAN), $7.50 Rasp­ber­ries grown near the brew­ery in Maleny, Queens­land, are used in this killer beer. Brouhaha does things just a lit­tle dif­fer­ently, and the pleas­ingly bit­ter sai­son tang here keeps the palate bright and re­fresh­ing. Such wicked drink­ing. ARGALÀ AR­TI­SANAL PASTIS, $89 Pastis is one of those re­ally quaint drinks that re­quires a lit­tle cer­e­mony to bring out its best. Serve over ice in a tall, small glass with a jug of iced wa­ter along­side to di­lute to taste. The Argalà is one of the world’s best and most anise-rich in flavour. Take it in small sips. LAU­RENT CAZOTTES GUIGNES ET GUINS (WILD CHERRY)

500ML, $95 The French master of fruit liqueurs, Lau­rent Cazottes, uses lo­cal or­chards to pro­duce ex­quis­ite dis­til­lates. This is ul­tra-fra­grant, pure-tast­ing and su­perb served solo, or blended in a de­li­cious spritz cock­tail. STONE DOG MEAD­ERY HEAD­ING TO THE COAST MEAD, $20 This clean, tra­di­tional-style mead is made with raw, un­fil­tered ma­cadamia honey and isn’t too sweet, so there’s a lot of mor­eish drink­a­bil­ity in­volved. Serve lightly chilled to savour the pure honey flavours. It’s thrilling to see this style.


FRUIT WINE, $13 Okay, so the wine purists are go­ing to have me hung, drawn and quar­tered, but this doesn’t taste bad with a good chill. In­deed, it’s fun, thirst-slak­ing and some­thing dif­fer­ent to sip on. Serve it re­ally cold over ice with a fruit plat­ter.

LIKE FASH­ION, DRINKS go through phases of pop­u­lar­ity. The ’70s gifted us sweet ries­lings and the rise of cask wine, and the ’80s meant you could dive into an ice-cold wine cooler such as West Coast.

The ’90s gave us creamy cock­tail cul­ture, where Toblerones and Mud­slides led us down the gar­den path. Then the noughties came, bring­ing pre­mium vod­kas and, more re­cently, fruit-in­fused wines and ‘frosé’, a wine/ice adult slushie.

Now we seem to be shift­ing into an era where a new ethos is in­flu­enc­ing our drinks cul­ture.

Michael Chiem is one of Aus­tralia’s lead­ing drinks peo­ple at Syd­ney’s bril­liant PS40 bar, which spe­cialises in house­made car­bon­ated drinks. “We’re try­ing to push the bound­aries, us­ing in­gre­di­ents that aren’t well used,” he says. “We’re fer­ment­ing drinks in-house and pre­par­ing cock­tails and non-al­co­holic pair­ings like chefs would. Im­por­tantly, we’re see­ing greater sus­tain­abil­ity in drinks-mak­ing and in­ven­tive ways of us­ing ‘left­overs’.”

Luke Ash­ton is the multi-award-win­ning co-pro­pri­etor of This Must be the Place in Syd­ney. He sees a greater em­pha­sis on health. “Peo­ple are look­ing for a fresher palate and lighter al­co­hol,” he says.

Ash­ton also cites in­creased in­ter­est in lo­cal prod­ucts. “It’s im­por­tant to look for ar­ti­sanal pro­duc­ers of spir­its, wine and beer to dif­fer­en­ti­ate and make our drink­ing cul­ture more po­tent.” He pre­dicts a rise in in­ter­est in fruit dis­til­lates and high­qual­ity in­fused spir­its.

An­gus Bur­ton, from Bou­tique spir­its im­porter Spirit Peo­ple, agrees. “I think the next thing is a con­tin­u­a­tion of lo­cal spir­its and wine, and more so­phis­ti­cated bench­mark­ing in terms of spiced spir­its and her­bal styles. Top-qual­ity ver­mouths, lo­cal her­bal-in­fused grap­pas – some­one has to have a good crack at a lo­cal Aperol/ Cam­pari with na­tive botan­i­cals.”

Here’s my pick of un­sung hero prod­ucts emerg­ing in our drink­ing cul­ture.

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