Cocktails and beer. It was a first for Good Beer Week, but it won’t be the last. And despite consummate bartender, Black Pearl manager, and compère for the evening Chris Hysted admitting that he was quietly “shitting himself” before hosting the workshop, the event went off like a frog in a sock. Entirely unsoiled by nerves.
Hysted and Christiano Berreta did a Laurel and Hardy double act, systematically turning Stone and Wood, 4 Pines, 2 Brothers, Red Hill and Bridge Road brews into classic and custom cocktails with 666 vodka, Tromba tequila, and West Winds swashbuckling Cutlass gin. Blackhearts and Sparrows bottle shop provided 2L growlers of brew.
There were historical facts about the Michelada (the fresssh lovechild of a Bloody Mary and a lager). There were stories of Hysted getting drunk with James Smith (Good Beer Week organiser and Crafty Pint man) and inventing the deeply smoky Tallisker whisky, dark porter and walnut liqueur Grounds for Divorce cocktail. Drinking which is, in fact, just like being punched in the groin, but getting to keep the house. It's on the menu at Black Pearl if you don't believe us.
Then there was the moment when Sebastian Reaburn of 666 vodka was called to stage to ‘flip’ hot ale and gin with eggs (actually awesome – like a boozy custard) and in whipping off his jacket, revealed that he is constantly dressed in ‘tender clothes underneath – like the Superman of booze.
There was boilermaker chat – the simple and glorious pairing of a slug of whisky and a beer. You can get it anywhere that has both, but we like to prop it up at EDV and Cure bar where they have more peaty and boggy firewaters than you could poke a stick at, and enough rogue brews to make the matchmaking into a game where you just can't lose.
There were Lageritas too – which in essence are a mistake/drunken stroke of genius drink that combine lager, and a margarita. Limey, and beery, they’re a solid bridge that can take you straight from hungover town back to drinking city. It’s a longstanding item on the menu at 1806.
It was followed by the first annual Beertails bartender comp. Callan Green from Lily Blacks took out the top prize with a quince paste infused cocktail that scored top marks in the all important Beeriness category. His prize? The eternal glory of having his name etched in the top position on the highly buffed keg that shall henceforth serve as the trophy for future competitions.
It was a revelatory night. It was a boozy night. It was like the fall of the Berlin Wall, and henceforth, we hope to see hard liquor and beer making sweet hoppy love in more bars.
Who won the Melbourne pub awards?