Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Keystone Cocktails Come of Age

theloft's Western Expression with 'flavour paint'
I was lucky enough last week to get an invitation down to theloft by the inimitable Jason Williams - and I must admit that I was overdue a visit. My last appearance was during last year's Bartender of the Year Competition and before that the Time Out Shake Down. But it wasn't always special events that brought me down to the wharf.  

Opened in 2003 theloft is one of Sydney's more successful cocktail bars - the first time I ever visited the joint I was sipping Mojitos with Dale De Groff and the Bartender magazine crew on a scorching hot September day back in 2006. Nestled on sunny King Street wharf theloft at the time was the epitome of everything good about Sydney and it certainly played a part it moving me over here from Auckland. As the city's bars evolved over the the next five years, however, theloft looked sure to be left behind - fortunately the good folk at Keystone Group had the foresight to hire Jason Williams the Bartender magazine Bartender of the Year 2010.

Jason has been making huge inroads into the drinks programs at all of the Keystone venues (like Cargo, Kit & Kaboodle, The Winery etc) and his latest work - the new cocktail list at theloft - seems sure to restore some of the venues serious cocktail cred. With its sleek art deco design the menu advertises signature creations, old school libations and contemporary classics. It even includes a drink from my old haunt in Auckland - Mea Culpa - the Honey & Clove Margarita  which I created in 2006. The very year I first stepped foot in theloft I might add.

Honey & Clove Margarita
The Honey & Clove Margarita includes Tequila,lime and Cointreau with a cinnamon, honey & clove syrup and a ginger salt rim. Originally I was making this drink with a house made honey & clove tequila - Sauza Hornitos infused with clove and sweetened with an organic Beechwood honey from the South Island of NZ. The infused Tequila was tasty enough to even be our punters' shot of choice. At any rate the beverage in its current format is mighty tasty booze - thanks to Thiago Santos for introducing this one to Sydney.

I might add that the drink above is one of the more simple beverages on the menu. The next tipple I went for was the Beat Generation - having been a 20th Century Lit student I just couldn't resist.

The Beat Generation
The drink itself combines Ilegal Blanco Mezcal with pineapple, agave, ale, lemon and bitters. It's served with a tasting glass of Fat Yak Pale Ale on the side and some crisps then garnished with a peach and leather dry ice 'flavour fog'. It's perhaps the fanciest boilermaker you'll ever come across and the drink is beautifully balanced - though I'd have enjoyed a little more smoke through coming from the Mezcal. But then again I'm the sort of guy who would by smoky peat chewing gum if someone would only market it. 

Pan American Clipper
The list combines creativity and a few adavanced techniques with just some damn fine choices of classic cocktails. One of my favourites has to be the Pan American Clipper - Charlie Ainsbury perhaps makes the best I've ever had, but I'll be back to theloft to see how there mix of Calvados, pommegrante, lime and absinthe holds up.  

I suggest you all get down to theloft early to mid week to stay far from the madding crowd and check this list out. It's expertly constructed and evidence yet again that it's not just 'small bars' that are doing great things in this town.

1 comment:

  1. The Loft's Western Expression was also created by Thiago Santos as an entry into the World Class Cocktail Competition