Monday, July 4, 2011

Congratulations to an Ex-Work Accomplice

Last Monday I had the singular pleasure of attending the inaugural Time Out Shake Down – a boozey battle of bartending brawn. The five finalists had to deliver their competition drinks to a thirsty sell-out crowd of punters at King Street Wharf’s theloft. They needed to show charm, wit, deft ‘tending skill and a drink with no small amount of punch to win over the judges – which in this case was the bloodthirsty revellers themselves.

Burlesque performers, Bella Pistol and Holly J’aDoll, made for excellent ring-side entertinment 
The barkeeps were each given a station where they had to bust out drinks for the Shakedown guests who would decide their fate. As if this wasn’t enough the contenders had to enter the ring (litterally) and entertain the crowd for a round – giving them the chance to sway the audience with a knockout performance.   

Victoria Room's LPC (“yeah you know me”) had a throng five deep in front of his bar station. His drink – the Louisiana inspired, Sazerac Rye laced, Turtle Soup – was a delight. I remain unsure, however, if the rabble in front of him was dazzled by his amazing chat or in a mild state of hypnosis due to his mesmerizingly slow production of drinks. Next to him was the itinerant Irishman Mr Ben McFarlane (Rockpool B&G) who together Stitch’s Matteo Fabbris had the ladies swooning with their exotic accents and potent potables. Max Grecco, from Eau De Vie, was thankfully tucked around the corner where his sabring of Champagne bottles was least likely to take out somebody’s eye. 

A victorious Nielsen Braid
Ultimately, and surprisingly given Grecco’s charismatic on-stage performance, it was Nielsen Braid (my ex-co-worker at Gardel’s Bar at Porteño) who took home Shakedown Heavyweight belt. And he did it with a blazer no less. It's a challenging drink at the best of times and an impressive feat of ‘tending prowess to deliver it successfully to so many people. 

When asked about how sweet it was to take out the comp Braid said: "Awesome! I've never won a comp before. It's was just surreal." 

For his efforts, Braid, who can now be found tending bar at The Corner House, scored a $600 bottle of Armand de Brignac and ‘a day in the life of a rock star’, starting with a chauffeur-driven tour of Sydney in a classic Australian cruiser, the 1964 EH Holden Premier and ending with dinner-for-two at Neil Perry’s Spice Temple restaurant.

I'm proud to count Nielsen among my acquaintances
My High Tea 
(serves two)
120ml Junipero Gin
20ml Agave nectar (cut 1:1)
4 Large swathes of orange zest
Ditto of lemon
4 Cloves 
1 Cinnamon quill
1 teaspoon Earl Grey tea
6 Dashes chamomile bitters 

Add gin and agave nectar to a Blazer mug or (steel milk frothing jug in a pinch). Ignite the liquid with a kitchen blowtorch and add other ingredients before passing from on jug to the other. Try to get a bit of height whilst doing this as aeration will aid the burning of the alcohol.*

*NB. This technique requires a bit of practice with un-ignited liquid before attempting live.And yes the burning of the alcohol is essential in bringing the drink down to a palatable proof.

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