7 years. What’s that in dog years? Or internet years? “Longevity”, “endurance”, “how do you do it” are words that are often thrown around but the reality is that there’s a lot of hard work behind the façade of going out every night and being spoilt with delicious food and drink.
On June 26, 2009 when I pressed the magic button and Gourmantic went live, I had no idea that it would come this far. Little did I imagine we would be privy to some incredible invitations, media travel opportunities and meeting (and interviewing) some luminaries in the fields of food, wine and spirits. And most of all, we would become part of this amazing hospitality family.
Having an anniversary gives you the opportunity to look back and you realise how a lot has changed over 7 years. The food scene has experienced some significant shifts with the decline of degustation and fine dining, share plates replacing three course menus and the overall casualisation of dining. Someone asked me last week what was the first restaurant review we published. It was Marque in Surry Hills, soon to be bidding farewell after 17 years. These days, I am inundated with media releases touting restaurants serving burgers.
On the bar scene – an industry close to our hearts – we always look back with fondness. Gourmantic was one of the first websites among a handful of others who wrote about the emerging Sydney bar scene. Our association with bars goes a long way back, always promoting, always supporting new bars, bartenders, operators and the spirit industry. We’ve certainly seen a lot of changes, from the excitement of the flourishing small bar scene where a new bar was opening every 2-3 weeks to watching this beautiful tall poppy cut down by lockout laws.
The online media scene has also changed significantly. When we launched Gourmantic in 2009, we called it a magazine-based website before it became an online magazine. It covered (and still does) three key areas: food, drink and travel with events later coming on the scene when we emerged from behind the veil of anonymity. At the time, and for nearly 4 years, it remained unique in its format and content before clones started to pop up everywhere.
These days, it’s the age of insta-fake self-proclaimed
influencers celebrities, where anyone with a few dollars can buy a swag of fake followers, pay to get fake likes per post then claim to be an influencer overnight. Sadly, many PR firms are fuelling this trend by inviting insta-fakes who just post 1 photo while expecting (in some cases demanding) others to write full articles along with all the social media shares and newsletter inclusions. It can be disheartening at times, but seriously, who remembers a photo an hour after it’s been posted?
Change can also be good for the soul. From the four key areas of food, drink, travel and events we’ve expanded into in-depth articles on Spirits, Distilleries, Breweries and regular News updates just to name a few. In 2014, we had the pleasure of sponsoring and presenting the Best Bar Food Award at the Australian Bartender Magazine Bar Awards. In 2015, we launched Cocktails & Bars, a niche website dedicated to cocktail culture that has since been flying high. Also in 2015, we changed our logo to the current design. We were published in Executive Style by Fairfax and listed in the biannual Top 100 Most Influential by Australian Bartender in 2013 and 2015.
How We Celebrated: The G7 Cocktails
For Gourmantic’s 7th Birthday, we decided to spread the celebrations over 7 days at 7 bars. We asked 7 of our favourite Sydney bars if they could kindly create a unique G7 cocktail for the occasion featuring a specific spirit category. Choosing 7 was the most difficult part and we were delighted when everyone agreed to be part of our celebrations.
Here are the G7 Cocktails in the order that we visited the bars. The full cocktail recipes will be published individually on Cocktails & Bars starting this week. We will update this post with the links as they happen.
1. Burrow Bar Sydney
Our first G7 Cocktail was at Burrow Bar in Sydney where the team greeted us with G7 balloons. Bryce McDonough‘s mezcal cocktail “In the Family” refers to the base ingredients being from the same family and a conversation where we shared what we love about the hospitality industry, and that is the sense of family.
The cocktail features Mezcal that has been fat-washed in coconut oil, aloe vera syrup and vermouth, garnished with Chartreuse-infused sugar cane “candle” and kissed with a flame. The combination of grassy notes along with a little sweetness and herbal notes work well with the beautifully lingering mezcal smoke.
The recipe for “In the Family” is now published on Cocktails & Bars.
2. Button Bar Surry Hills
At Button Bar in Surry Hills, James Tristan Snelgrove created a cocktail featuring Australian Gin. “Here’s Looking at You” has Hobart no 4 Gin, Cocchi Americano, a pinch of salt, lemon myrtle and a special ingredient: house-made Vegemite bitters! The yeasty character from the gin and the Vegemite made one heck of a ballsy Martini style cocktail, savoury and umami, with a gentle citrus note from the lemon myrtle. In case you’re wondering, we love Vegemite and Martinis so the drink hit the perfect notes.
The name “Here’s Looking at You” is based on how Kevin and I met. At the time, I was an Optometrist and Kevin was my patient, and as they say, the rest became history.
The recipe for “Here’s Looking at You” is now published on Cocktails & Bars.
3. The Wild Rover Surry Hills
For us, The Wild Rover is synonymous with whisky and good craic. The “7 Point Star” was created by Freddy Rayfield with Jameson Select Reserve, mulled wine syrup, lemon juice, shaken with egg white and garnished with a star anise. 7 spices went into making the delicious mulled wine syrup – a perfect celebratory drink and a winter cocktail to enjoy over and over again.
The recipe for the 7 Point Star is now published on Cocktails & Bars.
4. Vasco Surry Hills
Over at Vasco, it was all rock and roll and a tequila-based cocktail, “CK7 On the Road” by Max Greco. Max could not be there on the night, something to do with a certain “origin” event so we had to improvise. We took a cardboard cutout of Max’s face with us!
Antonello Arzedy prepared the drink, with tequila blanco, Monin yuzu puree, St Germain Elderflower liqueur, lychee water, pink grapefruit juice garnished with an edible flower. Bright, zesty, elegant and lingering with agave notes – the only problem is stopping at one.
The recipe for “CK7 On the Road” is now published on Cocktails & Bars.
5. The Barber Shop Sydney
At the Barber Shop in Sydney CBD, David Nguyen-Luu created a Japanese-influenced cocktail that ticks all the boxes of lucky number 7. He explained that the Japanese wisdoms believe the number seven is a lucky number, and the lucky cat figurine (named “Maneki-Neko”) also features seven cats which is believed to bring good fortune.
“The Maneki-Neko Cocktail” is made with Japanese Gin, St Germain Elderflower, cucumber juice, yuzu juice, egg white, shaken, topped with champagne and garnished with cucumber and black sesame seeds – presented with the cat figurine. The cocktail highlights the delicacies of the Japanese gin which has cucumber, sesame seeds, shiso leaf and Sanshō as botanicals and made for fine sipping. Bright, refreshing with subtle nuances of the botanicals – a perfect drink for an afternoon, early evening and the morning after.
The recipe for “The Maneki-Neko Cocktail” is now published on Cocktails & Bars.
6. Archie Rose Rosebery
Over at Archie Rose bar and distillery, Patrick Tully created a most unusual take on the Old Fashioned with Archie Rose White Rye, smoked and spiced maple syrup and bitters, garnished with crispy maple-smoked bacon from LP Meats. The White Rye plays beautifully well with the sweet and smoky flavours and made one heck of an unforgettable Old-Fashioned. The cocktail is named “Old Fashioned in Rye No 3” because “a twist on a classic deserves a classic name”.
The recipe for “Old Fashioned in Rye No 3” is now published on Cocktails & Bars.
7. Maybe Frank Surry Hills
Our last destination was on Sunday June 26, which fell on the actual 7th birthday of Gourmantic and we chose to celebrate it with food and drink at Maybe Frank in Surry Hills.
Andrea Gualdi, whom I interviewed on Cocktails & Bars in 2015 created the Gourmaybe Baby, an aperitivo/amaro cocktail served on hand-chipped ice. Cocchi Americano with a touch of Branca Menta and Fords Gin made for a complex and beautifully balanced drink that starts with the elegance of an aperitivo before the Branca Menta kicks in and gives the drink a fresh and herbal lingering note. The cocktail was delivered under dimmed lighting, a shiny disco ball and sparklers so make sure you check out the Facebook page for the photos.
Maybe Frank is also a restaurant so we enjoyed a relaxed and delicious dinner while taking a few moments to reflect on the events of the past week. But not long before we were given a bell to ring while Andrea prepared a dessert style cocktail served on the plate below while Dean Martin serenaded through the speakers. El la madonna!
The recipe for “Gourmaybe Baby” is now published on Cocktails & Bars.
7 years, 7 bars, 7 cocktails, 7 days – it’s been an epic celebration!
We’d like to thank the teams and individuals at all the bars – Burrow Bar, Button Bar, The Wild Rover, Vasco, The Barber Shop, Archie Rose and Maybe Frank – who have helped us celebrate this milestone and made Gourmantic’s 7th birthday unforgettable. We appreciate not only the effort but the thought that went into each and every cocktail, the welcome, the hospitality and the friendships. We chose 7 bars to represent with the 7th anniversary, but our gratitude and friendship also extends to all the individuals in our wonderful and embracing hospitality family.
We’d also like to thank you, our readers and supporters, for being part of the Gourmantic family. Your support and feedback over the years means a lot to us and we look forward to sharing more food, drink and travel adventures with you.
But Wait… There’s More!
Celebrating over 7 days didn’t stop us from attending events throughout the week. On the actual birthday on Sunday, the Plantation Pineapple Party was held at PS40. Prior to the event, we were given a pineapple to be named and returned. Our GourmanTiki pineapple was set alight by none other than Tiki Tom Bulmer and Mitch Wilson while people sang Happy Birthday. It was surreal! Thank you Mitch, Tom, the PS40 team and Plantation Rum for the awesome surprise.
The journey continues!
A photo album of the G7 Birthday is now uploaded so check out Gourmantic’s Facebook page for all the photos of the week-long celebration.