It’s World Whisky Day folks and in our ongoing quest to bring you the absolute best whisky news, inspirations, and roundups we’ve asked some of Australia’s best bartenders for their favourite Whisky Cocktail recipes to get your creative juices flowing – and a few bottles while you’re at it.
We’re throwing it all over the country, touching base with former Bartender of the Year, Alex Gondzioulis (The Rover, The Gidley, Bistecca and Grandma’s), before moving on to Joshua Hallissy from ELE at The Star Sydney. From there we’ll have a chat with the whisky bandit herself Katie Nagar (Diageo Scotch Whisky Ambassador, Australia), and Darcy Oliver who’s heading the bar at Wakefield’s Bar & Wine Room in the ACT, before finishing our journey on the Gold Coast for a whisky sour with Ikue Terui, Bar & Restaurant Manager at The Misono Japanese Whisky Bar, JW Marriott Gold Coast. It’s a big one, so let’s get started.
Alex Gondzioulis – Darkbloom
Current position: Bar Manager of the Liquid & Larder Group (The Rover, The Gidley, Bistecca and Grandma’s).
- 40ml Coconut Oil Washed Johnnie Walker Black
- 25ml Saison Black Walnut Vermouth
- 1 Dash Angostura Bitters
- 2.5ml Sugar Syrup
- 15ml Blackberry Mistelle
- Stir with Ice
- Strain into Stemmed Cocktail Glass
- Garnish with orange oils.
Alex says about this cocktail: “Darkbloom is our big, boozy, heavy hitter from Rover’s forthcoming Winter Menu. We’ve taken fresh blackberries and created a fortified wine-esque product using them, called a mistelle. The process is a little long-winded, but it essentially involves fermenting the blackberries in chamomile tea using champagne yeast for 5 days, while at the same time infusing more blackberries and grapefruit peel into a neutral spirit, combining the two, and correcting with a touch of sugar and acid.”
“The resulting mistelle has a great structure underpinning bright and jammy top notes. We mix this mistelle with one of my favourites, an awesome dynamic vermouth brand coming out of Melbourne, named Saison. The winter release this year heroes black walnuts and the vermouth has some nice bitterness and delicate menthol notes that I think compliments the mistelle and whisky perfectly.”
“Lastly, the base of the drink is Johnnie Walker Black, which we’ve chosen to accent with Coconut Oil. Washing the spirit beefs up palate weight, and the flavour and aroma of coconut pair well with Black Label’s smoky flavour profile.”
The cocktail should absolutely appeal to the Manhattan/Rob Roy or Old Fashioned drinker, with enough interesting stuff going on under the hood to be a point of difference for guests.
Joshua Hallissy – Wattle You Having?
Current position: Venue Supervisor, ELE at The Star Sydney.
- 30ml Scotch Whisky
- 30ml Acid adjusted apricot juice
- 30ml Disaronno (or any amaretto)
- 7ml Wattle seed tincture
- 20ml Milk
- Wattle flower garnish
Method (to make ingredients):
- Acid adjusted apricot juice: juice fresh apricot and mix 60g/1l citric acid until fully dissolved.
- Wattleseed tincture: vac-seal 20g roasted wattle seed powder and 1l vodka, sous vide at 60C for 2 hours, strain through a coffee filter.
Method (to make cocktail):
- Mix a large batch of ingredients (but milk together), then slowly pour into milk.
- Leave to curdle in the fridge overnight.
- Strain through a coffee filter.
- Store in the fridge
- Pour 90ml into the mixing tin and give a quick stir.
- Strain into Nick and Nora glass and enjoy!
Joshua says about this cocktail: “I created this serve during the lockdown, I was spending a lot of time at the park next to my apartment and suddenly the wattle trees were in full bloom all over! It was spectacular and the vibrant yellows inspired me to create a drink using wattle seeds with the flowers to garnish. My partner’s favourite drink is an amaretto sour, but find most too sweet, so I wanted to give a modern twist on this drink. Strengthening with the scotch and providing a smooth bitter finish with the wattleseed.
Katie Nagar – Symphonic Spritz
Current position: Diageo Scotch Whisky Ambassador, Australia.
- 30ml Johnnie Walker Blue Label
- 15ml Riesling Syrup
- 45ml Limonata Italian Sparkling Lemon (either San Pellegrino or Santa Vittoria brands)
- 45ml Soda Water
- 1 dash of Pastis
- 1 dash of Peychaud’s Bitters
- Garnish – Grapefruit twist
Method (Riesling Syrup):
- Heat 300g of Riesling with 300g of caster sugar in a pan over low heat and stir until sugar has fully dissolved.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Bottle and refrigerate.
- Build all ingredients in a glass.
- Top with ice.
- Express grapefruit oils over the top of the drink.
- Place grapefruit and peel along inside of the glass.
Katie says about this cocktail: “With Johnnie Walker Blue Label, there’s always something more to discover. The rare whiskies used in this blend present a multi-layered symphony of flavours that unfolds in waves; from its fragrant and floral nose to the dynamic layers of smooth and full-bodied flavours that blossom on the tongue, to its lingering and warming aftertaste, and so much more.”
“For the Symphonic Spritz, I wanted to create an easy sipper that explored the lighter, fruity notes found amongst the complex character of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. The sparkling lemon soda helps lift the floral and citrus aromas and flavours, while the Riesling syrup enhances the fresh orchard fruit notes. Just a dash of Pastis and Peychaud’s bitters to complement the whisky’s beautiful wood spice character, yet still allow the floral and fruity notes to sing through.”
Darcy Oliver – Black Walnut Old Fashioned
Current position: Head Bartender at Wakefield’s Bar & Wine Room.
- 60ml Bulleit bourbon
- 10ml demerara sugar syrup
- 4 dashes of black walnut bitters
- 2 dashes of angostura bitters
- Put all your ingredients into a mixing glass and stir with ice to taste.
- Pour into a rocks glass with a big ice cube.
- Express and garnish with an orange peel.
Darcy says about this cocktail: “I’ve always loved a good Old Fashioned and I’m always playing around with different whiskies, bitters and sugars to find a good combo, coming across black walnut bitters is a godsend. Pairing that with demerara sugar and the sweetness of Bulliet bourbon produces an incredibly delicious, deep and velvety cocktail.”
Ikue Terui – Lavender Whisky Sour
Current position: Bar & Restaurant Manager at The Misono Japanese Whisky Bar, JW Marriott Gold Coast
- 60ml Nikka Yoichi single malt
- 20ml Lavender syrup,
- 20ml Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 x Egg white
- A dash of bitters
- Combine all your ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
- Dry shake with egg white to produce a frothy thick meringue style beverage.
Ikue says about this cocktail: “This combination produces bitterness from the lemon and sweetness from the lavender, while notes of the whisky are the hero and main attributes of the cocktail.”