I like this time of year where you get a chance to catch your breath before it all starts again in a flurry of activity and goal setting. It’s good to stop for a moment and reflect on what’s been achieved and what you can build on.
But firstly, let me thank you for following my adventures this year, either through this website or my daily social media updates. I try and keep it fresh and interesting for you and have had a lot of fun along the way too.
I’d also like to thank my guest contributors, Jens, Chris, Gavin, James and Simon for their fine work and enthusiasm for sharing their insights into craft spirits from around the world.
So, here’s some of the highlights for me this year.
I was fortunate this year to be invited by lots of local media for interviews and guest appearances, starting with getting on the front cover of the City News! Mind, it is a bit funny seeing my face everywhere around town for a few weeks!
I’ve been fortunate to be interviewed frequently on the national broadcaster ABC and local radio and TV.
A fun day at the office. For the past few years I’ve been the guest judge for the Canberra heat of Burlesque Idol which is staged at the Canberra Theatre in front of a few thousand people.
A really fun and supportive night for emerging and established performers and it’s tradition for the judges to perform too (I kept my clothes on you’ll be reassured to know) and I’m back again in 2019.
The biggest gig of the year in terms of scope and drama was my being part of a one-night-only Masquerade Ball in an exclusive part of Australia’s Parliament House as part of the Enlighten Festival. I was commissioned to create a Martini for the occasion and create a range of cocktails for some 300+ guests. Working with a crack team from the Parliament’s catering team, we worked hard for hours cranking out some 800 Martinis of various types, including a bespoke creation.
This year also saw me expand my popular series of classes at Pialligo Estate, introducing an Australian Whisky appreciation experience to compliment my Martini Masterclasses. With over a dozen held this year -all of which sold out- I’m now booked out to June next year! Limited to 20 participants, these two hour sessions go into the making of the spirits, their stories and I feature some hard to get releases. I love being able to share my insights into the talented distillers Australia has now.
I did lots of travel around Australia this year to stay in touch with distillers and the bar ecosystem in each city. It was fun to return to Adelaide which is really buzzing with great small bars, and a world class distilling scene.
I did one of my Cocktail Hour Live broadcasts which I aim to do monthly via my Facebook page to showcase a range of places to get a great cocktail there – check out the videos there to watch the fun.
A first for me- Martinis in the Australian Alps. Invited by the Eiger Chalet in Perisher Valley, I presented a Martini Masterclass for locals and guests.
With a blizzard outside, we made an afternoon and evening of it in fine apres ski style, and ensuring our Martinis were perfectly chilled wasn’t a problem!
I was honoured to be featured in Canberra’s leading lifestyle magazine, HerCanberra, in their seasonal hardcopy edition.
Some gorgeous images were taken in my home for me to treasure. You can see the magazine online here.
My special neon sign (a gift from my wife for my Birthday) arrived the morning of the shoot!
When I’m not mixing Martinis, I’m something of a professional judge, being engaged by several peak organisations, such as the Australian Hotel Association or other bodies.
In August I toured around reviewing in secret entrants for an awards program, and I made sure I packed a travel kit for my daily Martini, just in case. The places I was going were such that a decent cocktail in a small town might be a bit much to expect. I’m glad I did, and in some instances, the view was much improved by one of my Martinis! 😉
This month saw my adding bespoke private functions to my mix of public events. Working with corporate and other organisations, such as exclusive members clubs, I had the pleasure of showcasing Australian craft spirits over several months.
Whether it was single malts, gins or other spirits, the interest shown by people about the process of making them, the passion and craft that’s required and the sheer hard graft that’s required was also high. I see it as my privilege to be able to be an advocate and educator on behalf of the industry.
Speaking of advocacy. October saw me being part of a delegation of distillers from the Australian Distillers Association.
With a meeting arranged with the Commonwealth Treasurer by Sullivan’s Cove founder, Patrick Stewart, there was also representatives from Starward Whisky and Big River Distillery. I lent my consulting and pubic sector strategy experience to the way we approached the meeting to lobby for a change to the way distillers at taxed (Federal Excise is 33% it’s one of the highest in the world) and it’s part of a larger push by the industry to get a more equitable tax regime.
This month I expanded my team to be able to scale up the range of events I’m being asked to be part of. My new team debuted in fine style at a special event at Winning Appliance’s store in Canberra as part of the Canberra Design Festival. I was engaged by Zip Water to use their range of products to create a range of bespoke cocktails which went down very well!
I was able to spend a week in Tasmania visiting a range of distilleries and bars (stay tuned for an article about this in the near future), including dinner with Abel Gin, Lawrenny, Sullivan’s Cove, Shene Estate, meeting new distiller’s Taylor + Smith, plus attend a gin festival in Hobart to meet another dozen or so! But getting to legendary distiller, Peter Bignall’s Belgrove Distillery in all it’s rustic genius was a day to remember!
The Wrap + What’s Next
There’s much more of course, but I wanted to give a flavour of some of the fun.
Thanks to you, the website saw a 30% growth on last year of readership and the most popular articles for the year were:
- the Espresso Martini
- Australian Gin makers list
- Martini Garnishes
- Botanist Gin (yay Jens!)
- Archie Rose Gin review
- Applewood Gin review
- Kyoto Kinobi Gin review (yay Simon!)
- Tasting notes for 2017 Aussie Gin advent calendar
- Tonic Water!
Look out for new events around Australia, not least a tour in September to Japan led by myself to experience some of the finest cult cocktail bars in Tokyo and Kyoto, plus some great distillers- not to be missed! Details will be released in the new year.
I’m also visiting Palm Springs, Calif. in February for their wonderful Modernism Week Festival, so look out for some fun broadcasts via my Facebook and Instagram from that natural Martini habitat.
My TV series project (which I mention from time to time via my social media) is getting closer to fruition, so I hope to have good news in the coming months about that.
I’m also expanding the range of spirits we’ll be looking at to include Australian and other craft rums. I’ll keep the lists of Australian distillers up to date each month, and locally I plan to launch a sort of Martini club for fabulous experiences around Australia.
So thanks again for your support and good vibes. It’s wonderful to know there are kindred spirits like you out there.
Wishing you a wonderful Festive Season, may your cocktails be perfect in 2019 and the company even better.