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Progressive Bar & Restaurant Tour: Gourmantic’s 5th Birthday

Last week, on Thursday 26 June, Gourmantic turned 5 years old. The team celebrated the milestone occasion with a Progressive Bar & Restaurant Tour around Sydney.

Five years, five venues, four people and an amazing night followed that will always remain an unforgettable part of Gourmantic’s journey.

1. The Dorothy Parker Experience at Eau de Vie Apothecary

Our first stop was the newly-opened Eau de Vie Apothecary. It was right next door, at Eau de Vie bar in 2011, that we had a stellar experience that sparked the passion for writing about bars and bartenders. We knew Dr Phil (Phil Gandevia) as far back as those early days and we were very excited at what the Doctor had in mind for our 5th celebration.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Our Booth at Eau de Vie Apothecary

I have always been a fan of Dr Phil’s Martinis and when we arrived at Eau de Vie Apothecary, it was a jaw-dropping moment.

“The Dorothy Parker Experience” awaited in a cosy booth that could have been taken right out of a chemistry lab. Famous for her quote, “I like to have a martini, Two at the very most. After three I’m under the table, after four I’m under my host,” the four of us eagerly awaited what was to come.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
The Dorothy Parker Experience

Dr Phil explained that is was the first time he had created it, by taking the Eau de Vie martini experience to new heights.

At the top, there were four different spirits – vodka and gin. There were four different types of vermouth, an Australian, some French and some were infused. A syringe was to be used used to draw them out. Next, there were four different type of aromatic bitters to be added to the drink at the end.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Aromatic Sprays and Garnishes

Four aromatic sprays were made. There was absinthe, a combination of pink grapefruit kaffir lime and blood orange, a smoky Scotch and rose. The garnishes were rosemary for woody and herbaceous notes, twists of orange and lemon peel, olives and pickled onions.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Dr Phil at Work

Next, we had to do all the hard work according to Dr Phil. Neither of us knew what we were about to be given. The idea was to take it and customise at the next stage.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Liquid Nitrogen

The glasses are chilled with liquid nitrogen. We added our mystery spirit and vermouth into a crystal mixing glass filled with ice and stirred.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
DIY Martini in Action

We strained the martini into each of the glasses with a vial sitting on a bed of ice then it was time to customise individual sips with sprays, bitters and garnishes.

After experimentation, the four martinis ended up as follows:

1. West Winds Cutlass Gin with pink grapefruit infused Lillet Blanc, hickory-smoked apricot bitters, smoky scotch.

2. Tanqueray gin with Causes & Cures Australian vermouth infused with nashi pears, an aromatic spray of a combination of pink grapefruit kaffir lime and blood orange, classic blend of orange bitters.

3. Beefeater gin with Pomme Vermouth (Noilly Prat with sage and green apple), absinthe spray and smoked celery bitters.

4. Wyborowa Exquisite Polish vodka, strawberry and tarragon infused vermouth, rose spray and Abbott’s bitters.

Dorothy Parker would have been proud… even if no one ended up under the host.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Rockmelon and Crispy Bacon Sorbet

After the Martini experience, Dr Phil prepared a surprise palate cleansing sorbet, made with rockmelon and crispy bacon topped with champagne, deliciously savoury and sweet with a hit of saltiness from the bacon.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Happy 5th Birthday Gourmantic

Then he lit five sparklers, one for each year of Gourmantic’s life.

Thank you Dr Phil, Sven Almenning and Eau de Vie Apothecary.

2. Dinner at Emmilou Tapas Bar in Surry Hills

The second stop was Emmilou Tapas Bar in Surry Hills. Emmilou and Gourmantic go back to our mutual early days. We’ve written several reviews, celebrated Emmilou’s birthdays over the years and attended many special events including the launch of Bar Lou Lou and the pop up, Hollywood and Vine. Gourmantic’s first interview was with Chris Cranswick-Smith, Executive Chef and Owner and we felt so much part Emmilou’s history that we once left a memento on the wall.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Gourmantic’s 5th Birthday Menu

Being our second stop with three more to go, we knew that we didn’t have the luxury of time. We ordered in advance, but little we knew that the Emmilou team had printed a special Gourmantic’s 5th Birthday Menu with our logo.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Zucchini Flowers, Goats Cheese, Truffle Honey

The first dish was a long-time favourite. We could never resist the signature zucchini flowers with goats cheese, truffle honey and a sprinkling of olive salt. Moreish as always, as it had proven over time.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Beef Short Rib with Serbal Malbec

Next was the Beef Short Rib on a bed of parsnip purée with a red wine and chocolate sauce. The meat was falling off the bone and melting in the mouth with that lovely sweetness and hint of chocolate. We chose a wine to go with dinner, 2012 Serbal Malbec from Mendoza in Argentina, a wine distributed by our friends at Exclusive Vines whom we met at the same time as Emmilou’s first event.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Paella del Dia

We finished with Paella del Dia, made with seafood, chorizo and the right balance of spice and heat. The dish was voted by the four us as the best paella this side of Spain.

Thank you Chris Cranswick-Smith, Ryan Christopherson and Emmilou.

3. The Mantic Ritual at Vasco in Surry Hills

The third venue was Vasco in Surry Hills. Since it opened a little over a year ago, Vasco has held a special place in our hearts. Vasco is Max Greco. You step inside and feel you are welcomed into his home, you feel his personality, his energy and passion.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Max Greco

Max and Gourmantic go way back to those early years at Eau de Vie bar mentioned earlier. We were also the first to review Vasco when it opened, we were part of the first birthday celebrations and have spent many evenings chilling with good cocktails, good music, good company and great bar chat.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Max Preparing the Mantic Ritual

For the occasion, Max created a special cocktail for Gourmantic’s 5th birthday, the “Mantic Ritual”. A play on the name, the drink is a take on the sour cocktail.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Gourmantic 5th Birthday Cocktail: Mantic Ritual

Max explained that he had earlier prepared a spicy plum syrup. The plums were cooked with sugar, water and a host of spices including cinnamon, cassia bark, vanilla, star anise, nutmeg and lemon zest. The cocktail was made with Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, the spicy plum syrup, fresh pineapple juice, a little honey and Cinzano Rosso with a little egg white, shaken and served in cinnamon-rimmed brand new glassware for the occasion with a block of ice.

Spicy, fruity and well-balanced with the slight bitter and herbaceous character of Cinzano Rosso cutting through any residual sweetness, the cocktail was exactly to my taste, perfect for after dinner and the cinnamon rim added another dimension to the drink. Delicious.

Thank you Max Greco and Vasco.

4. The Dom Hemingway at The Rook, Sydney

A cab ride into the city takes us to our favourite rooftop bar, The Rook, the home of the Juniper Society and the talented bar team with Cristiano Beretta, Rollo Anderson and Keystone Group Bars Manager, Jason Williams.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Cristiano Beretta

For Gourmantic’s 5th birthday, Cristiano and Rollo created a special cocktail. “We wanted to make a foodie cocktail,” Rollo explained. “We thought you’d like something savoury and approachable to everyone in your group,” Cristiano added.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Cristiano Preparing the Dom Hemingway

The “Dom Hemingway” is a twist on the Hemingway Daiquiri made with Dom Benedictine. The ingredients include gin, Dom Benedictine, grapefruit, lime, sloe gin, a little egg white to give it a silky body and hold up the garnish, and the secret ingredient which were to guess. Served in a coupe glass, the cocktail was garnished with a G made of chocolate for Gourmantic.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Gourmantic 5th Birthday Cocktail: Dom Hemingway

On first sip, the cocktail has strong herbaceous notes, a silky mouthfeel and a savoury component with a little fruitiness and gin, finishing on a short yet deliciously addictive umami note. It’s layered and complex, yet incredibly light and approachable. The special ingredient was later revealed as Worcestershire sauce, and the minute we hit that savoury note, we wanted to take another sip immediately.

Thank you Cristiano Beretta, Rollo Anderson, Jason Williams and The Rook.

5. The Baxter Inn, Sydney

Our final stop for the night was in whisky heaven, The Baxter Inn. No matter how many times we visit, no matter who is behind the bar, we always leave in awe of the experience from the stellar team.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Stuart “Chewy” Morrow at the Baxter Inn

It is no secret that we love our whisky and as a whisky writer, a visit to the Baxter Inn always feels like I’m a kid in a toy store at Christmas time.

At around 11pm, there was a queue to get in but the Baxter Inn has the friendliest door staff and the experience begins right then before you step into that underground den.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
The Gourmantic Cocktail

For the occasion,  Stuart “Chewy” Morrow, Manager at The Baxter Inn created the “Gourmantic Cocktail”, made with Caol Ila Unpeated 8 year old – with its whopping 64.9% ABV, Calvados Pays D’Auge, Galliano Vanilla, apple juice and pastis for a hint of anise. Well-balanced, the cocktail starts fruity then gets a hint of aniseed at the mid palate before finishing dry and long.

The other cocktail of the night was the “Dublin or Nothing”, a delicious mix of Jameson Irish Whiskey with Benedictine, pineapple juice balanced with the freshness of ginger.

Gourmantic's 5th Birthday
Bunnahabhain 1997

To finish, it was time for that long and lingering hit of peat and smoke with Bunnahabhain 1997 (51.3%), heavily peated and aged for 15 years. And it was at closing time that Gourmantic’s 5th Birthday Progressive Bar & Restaurant Tour came to an end.

Thank you Stuart Morrow and the Baxter Inn team.

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On behalf of the Gourmantic team, our sincere thanks and appreciation for this custom experience and for making Gourmantic’s 5th Birthday night unforgettable. Visit the Gourmantic Facebook page for more photographs of the event.

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RELATED POST: Gourmantic’s 5th Birthday Party at Hello Sailor

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.