I did get about this year, and as you know, finding a good, let alone a great Martini in the wild is rare.
Which is why they should be celebrated when you come across them.
Even at home, maybe 3 in 10 I make really shine and hold my attention! After all, so many things can go wrong with the situation, making, ingredients, etc.
So I was fortunate to experience these five in my travels this year. For one reason or another, these Martinis were memorable.
#5 ALFRED’S PIZZERIA AND SMALL BAR
In downtown Perth, down a staircase, you’ll find Alfred’s
Part dive bar, part pizzeria, yep. But they have a great spirits collection and now how to use them. The Martinis are spot on. Nothing fancy in this small joint, but with great hospitality and soundtrack and a mix of locals, hospo crowd & adventurous travellers to meet too, it has a quality of it’s own..
The real deal, and they made this guy from out East very welcome in the West.
#4 BENNELONG, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
Fun fact, I was born in, and lived many years in various parts of Sydney but have a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards it for many reasons, not least how the cocktail bar scene lagged behind other cities, like Melbourne.
This has changed, and there are several excellent places for a good cocktail in Australia’s most showy-offy city.
I was doing research for my series earlier this year trying to find bars who had a good stock of Australian craft spirits, not easy actually, and was more than happy to encounter not just a good selection, but a spectacular venue for a Martini at the Sydney Opera House’s Bennelong Restaurant restaurant.
With some appropriately dramatic dry ice flourishing over the bar and some spot on mixing, Sydney redeemed itself as a Martini city. The gin was the excellent Never Never Distilling Co. gin btw.
# 3 EIGER CHALET IN PERISHER VALLEY
When I was invited to host at Martini masterclass at the Eiger Chalet & White Spider Restaurant & Bar in Perisher Valley this Winter I was super excited. Martinis in the snow!
With a full house of the local hospo and business folk who live and work in the Alps this was an afternoon to remember. Plus some brave Canberra ladies who made the trek!
With a blizzard outside, and plenty of apres ski vibes to go around, there was a fashion show following my session staged by the guests, and as the evening moved along we were all the best of pals well and truely bonded over suitably chilled Martinis for a night to remember.
Add a bit of 007 adventure with the drive there and back (plus a ride on a skidoo to get to the Lodge) and it was a classic Martini experience!
#2 BLACK MARKET, CANBERRA
But props to local Canberra bar, Black Market for a sensational Martini I enjoyed earlier this year when doing one of my ‘Cocktail Hour Live’ broadcasts.
Now, you need to know that last year I was blown away by the ingeniousness and execution of Singapore’s The Other Room where they carefully modify each spirit with tinctures and other ingredients to successfully enhance the original- a superb bar.
So the Black Martini Martini, created by the bar manager at the time of my visit, Alex, was a take on one I had in Singapore, using the same Plymouth Gin and some white wine vinegar and some excellent Italian Dry Vermouth for a cocktail that lived up to its inspiration.
Drum roll please…
#1 EVOLVE SPIRITS BAR, HOBART
So recently I visited the brand new Evolve Spirits Bar in Hobart, Tasmania. Only a few weeks old, it is setting the standard for the emerging cocktail culture in that city with not just a superb fit out and carefully curated spirits selection, but the polish of its service style. That would be like any good five start hotel bar, you might say, and then they tend to fall away when it comes to the actual drinks more often that not.
Not in this instance. The way they personally engaged with each guest, did proper handovers to staff as they come on shift, and most importantly could make a great cocktail. I found my happy place.
In fact, I came back a couple of times to put my day to rights with a perfect Martini each time. 🍸