Theloft Cocktail List, Darling Harbour Sydney

Theloft at King Street Wharf in Sydney has recently launched a new cocktail list inspired by the American cocktail, the art deco and modern Americana. The 400 person stylish venue which opened in 2003 is a magnet for Sydney-siders who enjoy its waterside location, the chillout ambience on weeknights and the party vibe with funky beats on weekends.

Cocktails at theloft

Jason Williams, Group Cocktail Manager for the Keystone Group, has developed the new cocktail list with the venue’s target market in mind as well as offering elements of sensory exploration. With awards such as Australian Bartender of the Year 2010 and ALIA Bartender of the Year for 2006 and 2008 under his belt, you expect the cocktails to be nothing short of spectacular.

Drawing inspiration from the American cocktail, the menu with its art deco design and fonts offers classics, signature cocktails, and twists on classic libations. There’s a touch of Australiana with elements of theatre and interaction such as the use of perfumed mists, hand creams and flavoured fogs.

Referencing “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” (David A. Embury, 1948), Jason states that the quote below sums up theloft’s new cocktail philosophy.

“The well-made cocktail is one of the most gracious of drinks. It pleases the senses. The shared delight of those who partake in common of this refreshing nectar breaks the ice of formal reserve. Taut nerves relax; taut muscles relax; tired eyes brighten; tongues loosen; friendships deepen; the world becomes a better place in which to live.”

Classics like the Aviation (Hugo R. Ensslin, Recipes for Mixed Drinks 1916 NYC) and the Avenue  (W. G. Crompton, Cafe Royal Cocktail Book UK circa 1937) sit alongside cocktails with interactive components. Tail Feather is a twist on the Martini, with Ketel One Citroen Vodka, lychee, Lillet Blanc, ginger, rose and lemon, which guests have the option of shaking and straining using a mini cocktail shaker set.

Cocktails at theloft
Melancholy Baby prepared by Doug Beattie

Melancholy Baby ($17) cocktail includes Aviation Gin, watermelon and lemon and is an original of theloft. Aviation gin, with its notes of lavender, cardamom and sarsaparilla, is matched with the watermelon syrup, balanced with fresh lemon and slightly fizzed with Prosecco. This cocktail appeals to those who like it sweet and fruity with watermelon flavour but without a dominant taste of alcohol.

Cocktails at theloft
Soccer Mom

Soccer Mom ($18) is about perfumed aromatics, starting with Hendricks Gin as a base, with lemon verbena sorbet, cranberry bitters, lemon and apple shaken together and strained into a stemless wine glass. A fine mist of rose water ‘perfume’ is then applied to the top of the cocktail, and much like perfume, it can be reapplied.

Pretty and pink, this elegant ladylike cocktail is garnished with rosebuds and has a little kick from the double shot of gin.

Cocktails at theloft
(L to R) Hibiscus Julep and Pan American Clipper

Hibiscus Julep ($19) is an entry into the more boozy territory for those who like the taste of the spirits. Essentially an Australian twist on a classic deep south USA cocktail that has over 300 years of history, Bourbon is replaced with Queensland hibiscus liqueur from the Tamborine Mountain Distillery, Angostura 1919 Rum from Trinidad and orange bitters. Like the classic, it is served in a Pewter mug with mint to enhance the flavours.

Calvados, pomegranate and lime with a dot of absinthe make up the Pan American Clipper ($18), a classic cocktail adapted from Charles H. Baker, Jigger Beaker and Flask in 1939 that evokes the glamour of art deco Americana. Named after the commercial passenger water plane, the apple notes are matched with the pomegranate grenadine, the lime juice provides a good balance and the dash of absinthe finishes off nicely in what is arguably the favourite cocktail tasted on the night.

Cocktails at theloft
Western Expression

Part of theloft’s Reserve List, Western Expression ($26) is an interactive cocktail with a novelty factor that unleashes the guest’s creativity. Created by bartender Thiago Santos as his entry into the World Class Cocktail Competition national semi-finals, this is a simply-built cocktail with Tanqueray No. 10 gin, elderflower cordial and lemon served in a tall jam jar. Beside it, there is paint palette with a “flavour paint” or purée of strawberry/Campari, cucumber, grapefruit/blue curacao mixed with a thickening agent to make it slightly gelatinous. Guests use the paint brush to mix their preferred flavour profile then ‘rinse’ it in the cocktail.

Cocktails at theloft
Club Med

If you’ve ever had a Club Med holiday in the sun, this cocktail will evoke memories of balmy nights and crazy signs. Club Med ($22) comes served on a wooden board with a small glass of pineapple soda and a cockle shell with Body Shop Coconut Butter moisturiser. Dab a little on your hands, sip the pineapple soda then the cocktail, and you’re transported to tropical nights. But this is no gimmicky and watered down drink you find in some holiday resorts. The cocktail uses Pampero Seleccion Rum from Venezuela as a base, Nudie coconut water, lemon juice, mango purée and blue Curacao which gives the drink a rich green-turquoise colour.

One sip of this sensory cocktail, and you’ll be planning your next holiday escape in the sun.

Cocktails at theloft

Fans of smoky Islay single malts would revel in the Penicillin ($18), a modern classic cocktail created in 2005 by Melburnian Sam Ross, American Bartender of the Year, of Milk and Honey in New York.

Essentially a twist on a classic whisky sour, the Penicillin has Ballantines Scotch whisky shaken with fresh sweetened ginger juice, honey syrup and lemon, then strained over a single block of ice and floated with a layer of Laphroaig. A piece of candied ginger sits on top as a garnish. This is a serious cocktail for connoisseurs, one with which you want want to end the night. Then order another.

Theloft’s new cocktail list offers a balance between accessible fruit-flavoured cocktails and more serious libations that highlight the base spirit. The cocktails are well constructed and the sensory, interactive and theatrical elements turn every drink into a total experience you will want to repeat.

3 Lime Street
Sydney 2000

Gourmantic was invited to taste theloft’s new cocktail list.

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.