Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The PrePay Cocktail

What's old mate Nosferatu doing here? Read on...
If you've met me then you know I'm fairly easily impassioned about any cause high or low (especially after a couple of my high proof concoctions). Whilst this particular blog isn't meant to be the poster board for my ravings some things just can't be ignored. Inefficiency and illogicality have to be two of my pet hates and both these abhorrent traits can be found in the dastardly Sydney Buses PrePay system.

For those of blissfully unaware of the workings of inner-city Sydney public transport I'll quickly explain the ins and the outs. On weekdays would-be passengers catching a bus in the CBD between 7am and 7pm must purchase their tickets before boarding a bus. This ruling is employed apparently for the benefit of the commuter with savings, and efficiency promoted as the key motivators.

Whilst it is true that buying a 'Travel Ten' is cheaper than buying tickets individually, the cost of taking the bus in Sydney has gone up 15% since the scheme was introduced. Efficiency is the also the exact opposite of what has been created too. Drivers with a till and ticket machine in front of them will march you off the bus if you don't have a ticket despite them being perfectly able to sell you one on the spot. This often means you will be forced to miss your bus and queue in the rain with other scorned and weary travelers at a ticket booth operated by one surly, arithmetically challenged, retailer during peak hour.

I ask you who the prepay system benefits? Sydney Buses and their employees? Most definitely. Tourists, infrequent service users and commuters? Most definitely not!

My last horrific bus ordeal on a stormy autumnal Sydney evening saw me not only miss my bus and get drenched whilst waiting to buy a ticket, but also took 1 hour and 15 minutes to get from Circular Quay to Pyrmont - on the other side of Darling Harbour! Understandably by the time I got home I was in need of a drink. I felt I had earned one.

Being in the middle of my Parched March charity bar odyssey, I ended up going to a few bars. My 'excessive brand loyalty' to the Parched March cause did cost me the morning after. I was in need of a remedy for last night's indulgence and it was with this in mind that I created the PrePay Cocktail - available only on weekdays between 7am and 7pm. And only to those who have paid for their efforts from the night before the morning after. 

Admittedly The PrePay Cocktail is a simplified adaptation of the Bax Beet Pinot. Individually bottled and served in a Burgundy glass, Tippling Club's (Singapore) creation is an earthy mix of fresh beetroot juice, the indomitable hangover cure Fernet Branca, Antica Formula vermouth and lime juice. 

The PrePay Cocktail, deliciously sanguineness, is served in a rather Gothic over sized chalice representing the the life sucked out of us all by the vampirishness of bureaucracy that has us following rules, regulations and codes as opposed to common sense.

The sanguineness PrePay Cocktail
The PrePay Cocktail
45ml Fernet Branca
90ml Biotta Organic Beetroot Juice
30ml Gently hand-squeezed pink grapefruit juice (to avoid bitterness)

Stir as best one can whilst bleary eyed. Strain the blood red mix into a chalice. A few of these in quick succession will revive the corpse, dust the brain and open the eyes.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Tea Time Tipple

"The importance of jam and cream in bonding a community should not be underestimated." - Dulce May Booker
It's absolutely no secret that I'm a bit of a nanna. I'm not sure what gives it away though. Perhaps it's my predilection for gardening, baking scones, and enjoying a nice cup of Earl Grey - no gumboot tea for me thank you very much! I have also been known to order the odd Dubonnet Cocktail - the Queen Mum's favourite tipple - simply equal parts Dubonnet and gin served over ice with a lemon twist.

This weekend past, however, called for a new potion to go with my afternoon repast of scones, jam and cream (don't they look good - thanks mum for your swell recipe!). Hence the Tea Time Tipple was born. After finishing a hot cuppa, I put the kettle back on so I could allow my creation to brew.

I've recently developed an obsession for home-made soda. It's a quick and easy way to develop a tasty beverage at home for me and my lady without having spend too much time in the kitchen fiddling around with shakers, strainers and other cocktail apparatus every time someone goes dry. Prepared ahead of time you can simply pour your favourite poison into an ice filled glass and top with your bespoke soda to order. Voila! An instant praiseworthy potable.

Tea Time Tipple
120ml home-made earl grey soda*
45ml gin (Tanqueray works a treat) or un-peated Scotch
Lemon twist for garnish

Add your preferred tipple to a high-ball glass. Add ice cubes and top with your home-made soda. garnish with a lemon twist.


*Earl Grey Soda
550ml strong, cooled earl grey tea
100ml sugar syrup or honey water
60- 100ml lemon juice to taste

Combine ingredients in a large measuring jug and adjust lemon juice to taste. Funnel into your siphon ensuring that the mix is well strained. Charge with one soda bulb and chill.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I'm Parched Az Bro

No, before you ask, it's not another clich├ęd sobriety month, in fact, Parched March is quite the opposite. That's right, Sydney's only month long celebration of bars and drinks is back and this year it's shaping up to be bigger than ever.

This hair brained scheme was dreamed up Amy Cooper a couple of weeks before March 2010. The idea was to create some positive press for bars in a media landscape that was otherwise pretty negative - after all Sydney has a dynamic and colourful bar scene that should be celebrated not deplored. Copper approached Bartender magazine and 4bars and the idea to visit 30 bars in 30 days was born.

In 2010, I joined Amy in her charity bar odyssey and found the task of visiting bars day after day enlightening. 30 bars within the time frame is totally achievable - even with a full time job to hold down. And whilst even the most sensible of drinkers is prone to over indulge in beverage alcohol upon occasion we found that for the most part the month could be tackled responsibly. The key was to enjoy a venue's bar food offerings, meet up with people and converse instead of antisocially imbibing and visit bars during the quieter periods week. If you haven't indulged in social drinking during the earlier part of the week it's definitely to be encouraged - I've long be a proponent of the fact that going out of Friday and Saturday night is quite possibly the worst time you could choose.

Last year we raised money for our two animal charities using a sponsorship like scheme. Whilst this was effective we did realise that it was a bit rich to ask for money from people to  donate to charity when we were spending our own money in bars. This year we came up with an eloquent solution that spread the burden over as many people as possible. Participating venues have agreed to offer special drinks for the month (often with the help of suppliers in terms of bonus stock) from which a percentage of their profits for that drink will be donated to our charities - SDCH and AWL Queensland.

If you haven't done so already head along to www.parchedmarch.com to check out all the cool bars we've got signed-up and perhaps even consider setting up your own team to participate in this year's cause. At the very least come and join me over the month - I'm already feeling a little parched az and so will be kicking the month off in a couple of bars tonight!