As part of our Hot & Cold series, we joined forces with whisky educators Dramnation one sunny Saturday afternoon to tackle that golden barley spirit and showcase how it could be manipulated in a number of hot and cold cocktails. Featuring the range of whiskies from New World Whisky Distillery in Victoria (makers of the award winning Starward expression), we welcomed a full house of enthusiasts with a palate cleansing mocktail (consisting of a home made pineapple shrub with cucumber and lengthened with Fever Tree soda) before we got down to serious business, which is drinking whisky!
We promised attendees that we would have a mystery nip to start and so we did! A colourless liquid, this one divided the room, with most guessing it to be new make (i.e. the spirit that comes off the still before it is put into barrels to be aged) and one guessing it to be gin. The answer, both! It was in fact, a genever style gin that was produced under the New World Projects experimental arm of the distillery. Widely acknowledged as the predecessor to gin, genever is a protected "appellation" (i.e. it can only be called genever if produced in a certain geographic region that includes Netherlands and Belgium) and is a blended malt spirit (similar to new make) and botanical distillates including juniper. Unlike gin however, it does not have to taste predominantly of juniper and various styles of genever calls for varying levels of malt spirit. the NWP Korenwijn (literally Dutch for corn wine) uses at least 51% malt spirit hence the similarities to new make.
Moving right on and led by Matt from Dramnation, we then tasted three different expressions of the NWW distillery's range - the Starward Single Malt aged in apera (or Australian sherry to you and me) barrels, the Starward Wine Cask aged in Australian red wine barrels and the New World Projects limited release for Vintage Cellars that had been aged in Spanish PX sherry barrels. Alongside each, Pocket bar manager Daniel Molnar demonstrated the making of three specially designed cocktail to highlight the whisky itself. The first one was aptly titled Apera Champera, which was created as a playful riff on the whisky highball but presented to look like champagne. Consisting of the Starward single malt, Becherovka liqueur and topped with Fever Tree ginger ale, this was refreshing with the spicy notes of the whisky highlighted by the liqueur.
For the second cocktail, we went back to classics with the Bobby Burns PX, using the NWP PX release with Dom Benedictine, Oscar 697 vermouth rosso and a dash of bitters - wonderfully balanced with some chocolate notes brought out by the liqueurs used, we absolutely loved this when we first tried it and still do! But the star of the show had to be the hot cocktail....with a fire show by Pocket's bar manager Daniel Molnar to top things off. Flaming the Starward Wine Cask to pour into a heated chocolate mix to produce the Wonka Wine, this was an adult version of the hot chocolate but brought up to date in modern times with a dehydrated raspberry rim garnish.
Closing things off, one lucky guest also won a copy of Diffords Guide to Cocktails Edition 11, an encyclopaedic tome of over 3000 cocktails - but as we say, you can never have too many cocktails!
A huge thanks to all who attended and Pocket Bar for a great afternoon. Special thanks have to go to New World Whisky Distillery and Southtrade International (distributors for Starward, Becherovka and FeverTree in Australia) for their generous support, without which the event would not have been such a success.