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  • Alaska

    Sometimes seen as less-accessible, with the use of the divisive yellow Chartreuse in place of vermouth, the Alaska is actually a slightly sweeter variation of the Martini. The enigmatic liqueur adds both depth and complexity to the role of balancing-sweetener, while the use of Old Tom gin over the classic dry style mellows out the sharper flavours of the Chartreuse. 60ml - Old Tom Gin 15ml - Yellow Chartreuse 1 Dash - Orange Bitters Stir all the ingredients over ice. . Strain into a frozen coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist HITTHiSBAR - A Guide To Martini's

  • A Guide To Martini's

    Thanks to its iconic status, the Martini is a cocktail that many people like the idea of more than they do the drink itself. It's wrong to think of a Martini as one particular drink, it's more a formula in which to place certain components in order to create the desired drink. You cannot, or should not, be able to ask for a Martini at a bar without being asked at least one follow up question. Here’s a guide to how to answer, or ask, those questions, and how to use the answers to get to certain flavour profiles and types of Martini. Gin or Vodka? A somewhat contentious one to begin with. There are plenty of people within the industry who will tell you that a Martini is a gin-based drink and that to even suggest vodka is an act of pure blasphemy. The arguments from this side are solid – there is little else in a Martini, so to use vodka is to make a drink lacking any real flavour, and that any flavour added to a Martini, in the form of olive brine, certain vermouths, citrus peel or (say it quietly in case there are any stalwart traditionalists around) bitters, will work better when paired with the botanicals in gin. This may be the case for those particular people and their specific tastes. And that is surely the point. This is such a customisable cocktail that there is no right or wrong answer. If someone wants a very salty, olive-heavy Martini, then vodka can sometimes be the best way to go. Yes, there are gins which pair amazingly well with the saltiness of olives, but vodka, with its clean profile, can allow the olive to overpower it and shine as the predominant flavour. Using gin can allow you to take the Martini in other directions in a more subtle way. The botanicals in gin can see a Martini range from citrusy to earthy to reasonably off-dry. Gin works excellently in allowing the cocktail to become more bespoke. It adds more complexity. The botanicals in vermouths work phenomenally well with the botanicals in gin. The 2 products often share a lot of the same components. Traditionally the Martini is a gin-based cocktail, but the number of drinkers, thanks in no small part to James Bond, who would order a Martini and expect to be handed a glass containing vodka is high enough that it should be included in a conversation about the classic. Vermouth - Wet, dry, extra dry, perfect? Vermouth is fortified wine which has been aromatized and flavoured with botanicals that is excellent to sip as an aperitif or to mix into cocktails. It is particularly common in pre-prohibition era classics. When it comes to vermouth, the 3 main types are sweet, dry and blanc/bianco. We made a full vermouth guide you can check out here. The next point of call is ratio - how much vermouth will we be adding, and to how much spirit? In most bars, this is determined by the wet/dry/extra dry question. Extra dry would mean stirring ice and about 10ml of dry (or extra dry) vermouth for 20 seconds, straining it out, and adding the rest of the ingredients to the vermouth-washed ice, stirring that down to temperature, straining and serving. For a dry Martini, stir the 10ml of dry vermouth together with the gin for about 30-40 seconds for dilution and chilling. For a wet Martini, do the same as a dry, but make it 20ml of vermouth. For a perfect Martini, the same rules apply, but whichever varying amount of vermouth is used, it should be 50% dry and 50% sweet. Now, if you’re lucky enough to be in a bar with a wide range of vermouth, then choosing the right one can elevate your Martini from good to outstanding. Not all dry vermouths are the same. Likewise sweet. Certain brands will be heavier in certain botanicals and flavours, which will pair better with certain gins. If you’re ordering a Martini, don’t be afraid to ask questions of the bartender. As a Martini can go so many ways, the more in-depth the conversation had about it, the better. A nightmare for a bartender is someone who, when asked how they would like their Martini, doesn’t have the slightest idea which way to take it, and still doesn’t give them a hint, even after the prompting questions. There’s a very high chance they’ll get a drink that they don’t want, and in that scenario nobody wins. HITTHiSBAR: A Guide To Vermouth Dirty, filthy or with a twist? Yes, it’s SO much fun to say “I like it dirty” to a bartender. And boy will they laugh as if they’ve never heard that one before, earning their tips in the process. But what does it actually mean, and why would anybody like a dirty drink? Well, a dirty Martini is essentially a dry Martini with the inclusion of give-or-take 15ml of olive brine. For a filthy Martini, up the brine to 30ml. Garnish with 3 olives. Never 2. Never 4. Always an odd number. You can make a dry Martini with no brine and garnish with olives for the gentlest hint of salty flavour. You might find that eating an olive after every few sips of a dry Martini is actually a fantastic, contrasting pairing. For a fresher finish, a twist of citrus works perfectly well in almost any type of Martini. It will complement the botanicals of the dry vermouth and the gin, while balancing out any sweet vermouth, if that's the way the Martini has been taken. It adds to the nose and look of a drink, and brings a pop of colour to a sometimes-transparent looking drink. Bitters? As you feel more confident combining certain gins and vermouths, another way to up your game is the inclusion of bitters. Some traditionalists may argue that technically at that point you aren’t making a Martini any more, you’re into variation territory, but it’s all fun and games. Again, it’s just about knowing which ingredients contain what flavours and which bitters will enhance them. Seeing as this is where you can get creative with things, it's generally a time to reach beyond your classic Angostura Bitters for something more obscure. Citrus-based bitters obviously work well here, with practically any kind of Martini. Celery bitters are a popular option with dirty Martini's in particular, but there's really no limit to what can be done here. Whichever type of bitters you choose to add, start small. With a drink as finely-tuned as a Martini, too much of one component can through the balance off totally. Building a Martini Now you know about each component of a Martini, let’s bring it all together with some ready-made combos. If you’re going dirty, either keep it super simple with vodka, or use a gin that is heavy on earthy botanicals. Vodka will let the olive brine do the talking, and the right type of gin won’t cut through the saltiness. Remember, they’re not for everybody, but if someone’s ordering a dirty Martini it’s because they want that specific profile. There’s no point trying to over-complicate it. Use any vodka you like, or great gins for the occasion include The Botanist, Roots and Rutte Celery Gin. They’re earthy enough that the olive can pop, but they aren’t so citrus-forward that they will be challenging that brine for your attention. A Navy Strength will also pack enough of a punch to hold its own in a dirty Martini. For a classic dry Martini, the gin is key, and a slightly more high-end gin can really shine. Feel free to take it down the avenue of citrus-forward, choosing dry gin that hits those notes without being too rooty or barky. That said, juniper and citrus are a match made in heaven, so don’t go choosing any gin that is marketed as being citrus-flavoured. The beauty of the classic dry Martini with a twist is that it can be a way to showcase great gins and the diversity of the spirit as a whole. Almost all gins are good in dry Martini’s, but some standouts to use here include Lighthouse, Martin Millers Westbourne and Little Biddy Dry. The more information you have, or that is portrayed to the person who will be drinking the Martini, the more intricate an experience it can become. A Perfect Martini suits the slightly sweeter palate, so a twist of orange may work better than lemon. As far as gin goes in this setting, some great examples are Melbourne Gin Co., Clemengold, or even change it up further with an Old Tom Gin. The Martini is simultaneously simple and complex. At its core is an incredibly easy formula known the world over as perhaps the most iconic of cocktails. Scratch the tiniest bit beneath the surface though and there lie the build-blocks for an endless amount of amazing and diverse drinks to suit any palette. It’s not that you don’t like Martini’s, it’s that you don’t know how you like them yet. HITTHiSBAR: Alaska

  • Pearly Gates

    In an era of lockdowns and takeouts, the simple act of propping up a bar and sipping an expertly-made cocktail seems like a long-lost-luxury. Through necessity, plenty have bars have turned their hands to making at-home cocktail kits. The Pearly Gates comes from The Bramble's answer to the lockdown blues. Their 'just add alcohol' cocktail kits are as unique as they are well-thought out. Fresh ingredients get the full prep-shift treatment, whilst supplies you wouldn't be expected to have at home (black walnut bitters, cacao butter and jalapeno brine - not in the same mix) are used to build that cocktail you've been dreaming of since that first community case got announced all those months ago. Expect a thorough but unassuming instruction manual, with a list of suggested spirits to use as your base, to accompany small packages holding each cocktails required garnish. Pearly Gates 60ml - Plantation Original Dark (serve with your spirit of choice) 90ml - Pearly Gates mix from The Bramble Add the ingredients to a shaker. Fill it with ice and shake it for 10 seconds. Double strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with the thyme provided. HITTHiSBAR: Homemade Allspice Dram

  • Start With A Sazerac

    Subtly spiced. Spirit-forward. Dry but balanced with a touch of sweetness. Stirred and diluted with absolute precision. The Sazerac is a cocktail which evokes images of saloon bars in the French quarter of New Orleans in the early 20th century, and an appreciation for both how far bartending as a whole has come, and where it came from. Every bar should hold the ingredients for a Sazerac, and every bartender the knowledge to make one. A truly great Sazerac, however, is made by someone willing to delve deep into what they do, who understands the subtle differences, and stand by the method they find to be best. Some will argue for 2 dashes of Peychauds bitters, while others advocate as many as 20. There’s a school of thought for a discarded absinthe rinse, and another for a less wasteful method. The use of Cognac as the base, either alone or as part of a split, is also a point of contention. Whichever way you prefer, the fact that so much reading, research and skill goes into a Sazerac, shows that it is a cocktail that must be treasured. The history of the Sazerac is as ridiculously unclear as that of most golden-era cocktails. One heavily-romanticized story tells of a man from Haiti making his way to New Orleans in 1783, possessing little more than an old family recipe for an aromatic ointment good for relieving stomach ache. Looking to sell his bitters, as he called them, Antoine Amedée Peychaud would mix them with brandy, and serve them in a small porcelain cup, known as a coquetier in Peychaud’s native French. Of course, Americans would often butcher the pronunciation of coquetier, and eventually, the word transformed into one more familiar to us all today - cocktail. This story, criminally under-used by the Peychaud’s marketing team, seeing as it puts their product at the genesis of both bitters and the cocktail in general, was recently debunked by famed cocktail historian David Wondrich in an article you can find here. Not only does Wondrich unpick the fanciful history of the Sazerac, but he categorically proves that the Sazerac was created as a whiskey-based drink. Sneak through the door of your cocktail bar of choice, squeeze into a stall at the bar and order a Sazerac. It would be a challenge, as you make yourself comfortable, not to feel a certain warmth of excitment as the person behind the bar counts out the purple flashes shooting from their dasher bottle. Or as they check multiple times throughout the rigorous stirring process for the sweet-spot of dilution. They may either atomise or rinse absinthe into an unapologetically freezing-cold glass. It’s a drink that both requires and deserves a great amount of attention, from the bartender in its production and the patron in its consumption. A precarious balancing act, a Sazerac will be flat if not enough bitters are added, and the notes of the rye become overpowered should aromatics be added too heavy-handedly. Under-dilution stops the spices in the bitters and rye from opening up. Over-stir it and you’ll find the drink thin and wishy-washy. A lemon peel left balanced upon the rim of the glass allows the imbiber to decide on expression of oils, while a glass fresh from the freezer is (always, but in this case especially) vital, thanks to the Sazerac being served neat but not up. This format will speed up the rate at which the drinks temperature rises, meaning it must be drunk quickly. Making a Sazerac is mixology in its purest form. Bartending: the old-fashioned way. A truly golden-era cocktail, before Prohibition necessitated the introduction of an endless array of flavours. The Sazerac harks back to a time when barkeeps had a select few bottles of bitters and liqueurs to play with, and, as fantastic as the products in those bottles were, and still are, it takes an incredible amount of inventiveness to create something so unique. Fantastic drinks like the Whiskey Sour, Clover Club or Cosmo are amazing ‘gateway’ cocktails. Much in the same way that a mocha is a gateway coffee, or paprika a gateway spice. Safe bets for a novice moving away from rail gin and post-mix tonic. While the Sazerac is not in the same realm as these crowd-pleasers, it works in much the same way, albeit maybe a few levels, or gates, deeper. See the Sazerac as a gateway cocktail in that it is the cocktail which takes you across the threshold of casual cocktail consumer to obsessive barfly and beyond. Often, a budding barfly will drink a Sazerac before having the pleasure of deciphering Jerry Thomas or Henry Johnsons works from the late 1800’s. It is only after one goes back to the Sazerac, now with a better understanding of the time in which it was created, that the ingenuity of the drink, and the need for absolute devotion to perfection it necessitates, are fully appreciated. You should start with a Sazerac for a plethora of reasons. Some fanciful, owing more to the ‘history’ of the drink and the way it can make you feel. Romanticism aside however, order yourself a Sazerac from a bartender who values their craft and you are in for a treat. A boozy-heavy cocktail which makes a spirit that seems unwelcoming to many approachable to all. You should start with a Sazerac, and keep coming back to it as you delve deeper into the murky waters of cocktail history. What’s in the glass may not change, but your love for this classic will keep on growing. HITTHiSBAR: How The Paper Plane Took Off

  • Mela Menta

    Amaro Lucano is a somewhat obscure Italian bitter, featuring notes of wormwood, gentian and spearmint. The amaro's long finish allow it to play with the freshness of the apple and subtle complexities in the Scotch. 60ml - Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch Whiskey 12.5ml - Amaro Lucano 4-5 chunks of fresh green apple 2 dashes - Peychauds Bitters In a mixing glass or tin, muddle the apple chunks. Add the rest of the ingredients, fill with ice and stir. Serve on ice. Garnish with fresh apple. HITTHiSBAR: Smokey Scotch Boulevardier

  • How The Paper Plane Took Off

    The Paper Plane, created as the offspring of modern classic The Last Word, has gone on to become arguably even more well known than its predecessor. In 2007, fabled Australian bartender Sam Ross was tasked with creating an original drink for The Violet Hour, a bar which a friend of his was about to open. Having recently been introduced to bittersweet Amaro Nonino Quintessentia, and wanting a drink that was easily replicable from ingredients that most bars would have at hand, Ross used his new favourite Amaro and worked up from there. HITTHiSBAR: Paper Plane Nonino, with its deep, orangey bitterness needed to be balanced out with complimentary products. Bourbon was used as the base spirit, both to bring up the ABV%, and due to its ability to counteract the bitter. Ross originally called for Campari too, but eventually decided that the sweeter notes of Aperol were in fact a more suitable match. Add in an equal measure of lemon juice, and you have a drink that, as Ross puts it, ‘nails the trinity of sweet, sour and bitter’. The original version with Campari appeared on the menu at the Violet Hour in Chicago as intended, quickly becoming a top seller, and still gets ordered there in that format to this day. Although back then it was called The Paper Airplane, thanks to a misinterpreted late-night voicemail from Ross in New York to compatriot Toby Maloney in Chicago. Ross himself put it into circulation at Milk & Honey with his Aperol recipe, naming it, as intended, after the MIA track that was played everywhere that summer. Joaquín Simó, at the time struggling to find a replacement for Maraschino in his attempt at a Last Word riff, was inspired to find a more complex liqueur to fit the bill after being served a Paper Plane at Milk & Honey. He set upon the combination of Yellow Chartreuse and Aperol to finish off what would become a modern classic itself - the Naked & Famous. Word soon spread about the drink affectionately dubbed ‘the bourbon Cosmo’, as on top of being a delicious cocktail made from products stocked in most bars, the Paper Plane was easily replicable thanks to its equal parts ratio, and its lack of garnish - a surprisingly rare occurrence. A drink described by its creator as simple and fool-proof, the Paper Plane’s level of success is testament to Ross’ ability to be original without needing to be revolutionary. HITTHiSBAR: Why The Last Word Is So Important

  • Paper Plane

    Making an authentic Paper Plane here in New Zealand is, unfortunately, near-impossible. Amaro Nonino just isn’t readily available on these shores. You can order one at most craft cocktail bars, but they will probably substitute in a different Amaro. There are plenty of suitable substitutions on the market, all of which, while being unique in their own right, will make for a fantastic Paper Plane. 22.5ml - Bourbon 22.5ml - Aperol 22.5ml - Amaro Nonino or Amaro Montengro 22.5ml - Fresh Lemon Juice Shake Serve up No garnish HITTHiSBAR: How The Paper Plane Took Off

  • Smash?

    The cocktail with no set recipe, a contradictory history, and a totally different flavour-profile depending on the weather. As is so often the way when dissecting the background of any drink, the story begins with an entirely different cocktail... The Smash is derived from the Mint Julep, which is just a double dose of Bourbon softened up with a sprinkling of sugar and a touch of mint. Obviously, the Julep predates the Smash, having gained popularity amongst late 18th century Virginian gentry. In those days it was more likely a Brandy-based beverage, with Bourbon taking up the mantle as an affordable and always-available alternative following phylloxera. Jerry Thomas (thanks again) is the man credited with first putting the Smash into print. However, in his Bon Vivant’s Guide, he still refers to it as a Julep, and as a Brandy cocktail. His nod to the smash comes more by the fact that he acknowledges the existence of many different iterations of the Julep, and that really any fruit can be used. Harry Johnson is the man behind the two being seen as separate cocktails. In the 1882 edition of his New and Improved Bartenders Manual, Johnson, as well as listing a recipe for a Mint Julep, makes reference to both a ‘Fancy Whiskey Smash’and an ‘Old Style Whiskey Smash’. The two differing from his version of a Mint Julep thanks to the use of whiskey rather than Brandy, and the inclusion of seasonal fruit. Despite containing the same ingredients in the same ratios, Johnson’s Whiskey Smashes differ from each other quite a bit. The Old Style being built with the inclusion of fruit, mixed well in a ‘whiskey glass’ and served, while Johnson would get fancy by stirring the ingredients (minus the seasonal fruit), straining the chilled concoction into a sour glass, and simply garnishing with fruit. 4 decades later, in the 1934 edition of his New and Improved Bartenders Manual, Johnson settled upon just one Whiskey Smash recipe, that of his Fancy Whiskey Smash. Order a Whiskey Smash today though, and you’ll likely be served something resembling Johnson’s Old Style Whiskey Smash. The smash as a style of drink just feels inevitable. If all of your memory was erased, and you had to learn everything you know about bartending again, it surely wouldn’t be long before you churned ice through your favourite spirit with some sugar, an aromatic herb and some seasonal fruit. Regardless of how you come to serve your smash, always remember that there is no right or wrong. No recipe is too simplistic, no flavours too bold.

  • The Last Word

    Now, we here at HITTHiSBAR are firm believers in a cocktail being something to alter to personal preference. (It’s why we do things like make our own Allspice Dram). However, when it comes to certain classics, Last Word included, stick as closely to the original recipe as you can. There’s no substitute for Green Chartreuse (no, not even it’s yellow little brother), and using a different cherry liqueur will give you a completely different final flavour profile. A common misconception with the Last Word is that it’s all about the more prominent flavours from the Chartreuse and Maraschino. That couldn’t be further from the truth, as it’s a showcase of how a well-balanced drink can become so much greater than the sum of its parts. That said, finding the right gin for you can help elevate your Last Word. Originally made with a London Dry, we went for Rutte’s Celery Gin. The flavours from the botanicals stand up to the sometimes overpowering Chartreuse and Maraschino, while complimenting them without altering the profile of the cocktail as a whole too much. 22.5ml - Rutte’s Celery Gin 22.5ml - Green Chartreuse 22.5ml - Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur 22.5ml - Fresh Lime Juice Shake Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry HITTHiSBAR: Why The Last Word Is So Important

  • Why The Last Word Is So Important

    Green Chartreuse, at 55%ABV, is a somewhat divisive bottle. As in, there are those who want nothing more than to shot the strongest liquor they can, and those who know how to use such a component for in more elegant ways (although who doesn’t love a cheeky shot of Chartreuse to get things flowing?). Frank Fogarty, the bartender credited with the Last Words creation, fell firmly into the latter category. Originally a Prohibition-era drink, then revived in Seattle during the cocktail revolution by Murray Stenson, the Last Word comprises of equal parts gin, green Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur and lime juice. Stenson himself claims that the Last Word is an odd-sounding drink, admitting that "on paper it just sounds like it’s not going to work". That's still true to this day, but when Stenson re-discovered this recipe nearly 2 decades ago, most bars didn't stock Green Chartreuse or Maraschino. Having no idea how the concoction would taste, Stenson was intrigued by the unusual liqueurs it contained. He saw it as a perfect cocktail for the Zig Zag Cafe's menu, as he was a firm believer that all bars should have an identity. It just so happened that Zig Zag Cafe stocked a lot of rarely-seen bottles, and the Last Word mixed of two of them in creating what would become the bars signature drink. The Last Word has had a hell of an impact on what we’ve been drinking for the last decade-and-a-bit. There are now countless iterations sprouting out from Fogarty’s 4-ingredient equal-part formula, the most notable of which is the Paper Plane, which has itself become a modern classic. Compare the Last Word with the Negroni, aka the 3-equal-parts cocktail, and you'll see why its 4-equal-parts formula makes it a tougher framework for variations. The Negroni is very much core mixology. It is a genius, yet incredibly simple blend of alcohol, bitters and sugar, with each of its ingredients taking up one of the mantle (albeit they are all alcoholic). With a Last Word, the ingredients play multiple roles. The Chartreuse is both sweet and herbal. The Maraschino brings vast amounts flavour along with its sugar content. Gin is often seen as being a vessel upon which the other components of a Last Word can shine. That just isn't the case, or else vodka would arguably be better. The citrussy, earthy botanicals in a London Dry gin compliment and mellow out the pungent liqueurs in equal parts. There are those words again, equal parts. Fitting, as the Last Word is a perfect showcase of how a well-balanced drink, with properly thought-out ingredients, can become so much greater than the sum of its parts. HITTHiSBAR: Last Word

  • Eastside

    The Eastside is an incredibly fresh, vibrant cocktail falling under the ever-versatile sour umbrella. Owing much to its predominant flavours being constant crowd-pleasers, the Eastside is almost always good. The key to elevating yours is threefold. The first is simple, and isn't exactly anything ground-breaking - fresh, high-quality ingredients. Lime, cucumber and mint should be squeezed, muddled and pressed from fresh. The next integral element is finding a balance between those ingredients. While mint and cucumber are a match made in heaven, you don't want one to be overarching. (If you do, maybe try our Southside) HITTHiSBAR: Southside Finally, use the best gin you can. While this drink is far from spirit-forward, and any very-affordable London Dry will make for a mean Eastside, using a more premium gin with a botanical profile which compliments the fresh ingredients in this (or any) cocktail will not go unnoticed. 60ml - Gin of your choice 22.5ml - Lime Juice 22.5ml - Simple Syrup 3-4 chunks of fresh cucumber 5-6 mint leaves In a shaker, muddle the cucumber, mint, simple syrup and lime juice. Add the gin, fill the tin with ice, and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Double strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cucumber slice and a sprig of mint. HITTHiSBAR: Pineapple Pisco Port

  • History of the Negroni

    Like all of cocktail history, the Negroni’s genesis is clouded by both fantasy and the fact that these stories tell of (vast amounts of) alcohol consumption. However, it is fairly unanimously accepted that the Negroni was created by, or more realistically for Count Camillo Negroni in 1919 in Caffe Casoni, Florence. The Americano - equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth, topped with soda - was the drink of choice that night. The Count in question fancied something a little stronger, and an anonymous bartender decided to swap the soda with gin. 3 ingredients. Equal parts. It really was that simple. During the cocktail resurgence of the 1990’s and early 2000’s, aside from being recognised as an delicious drink, the Negroni was a textbook example of how balance was so vital to bringing out flavour in cocktails. Alcohol, bitters and sweetener in perfect harmony. This made the Negroni a fantastic formula in which to build variations. Gin would make way for tequila, mezcal and whiskey as the base spirit. All manner of amaro’s and bitters would find their way into the recipe in place of Campari, and the sweetener could be played with, as long as balance was maintained. White Negroni's, Boulevardiers and the Negroni Sbagliato (literally Wrong Negroni) followed. For some, the Negroni was subconsciously seen as a status symbol. A sign of both sophistication, knowledge of classic cocktails, and a statement that you could handle the strong stuff. Ordering a Negroni at a bar was the equivalent of ordering an extra-hot Vindaloo at an Indian restaurant, but in a sophisticated way. If you were an Italian going to bars and clubs throughout the 1970’s and 80’s however, you might have something to say about that. The drink gained incredible popularity in this period, but not as a suave sipper, or an example of precision mixology balancing ingredients. No, the Negroni was a club thrasher, drunk purely on the basis that it has a high alcohol content. This, along with the incredibly simple structure of the drink, is why for many, the Negroni isn’t something to be over-complicated. Traditionalist would see it built in the glass, given a few spins with some ice, and a wedge of an orange slid down the side. HITTHiSBAR: Negroni

  • Negroni Week

    Negroni Week. A worldwide concept that sees one week of the year dedicated to one of the worlds most famous cocktails. It’s a fantastic concept, and one which raises huge amounts of money for charity. On top of that, it’s also a competition in which bartenders from around the globe come up with inventive Negroni variations. Now you have a great excuse (if one was ever needed), to consume a Negroni or two. HITTHiSBAR: History of the Negroni For obvious reasons, Negroni Week has looked a little different in the last few years, becoming more of an online event. That hasn't stopped bartenders across New Zealand coming up with some awesome cocktails. HITTHiSBAR: Classic Negroni

  • Filisola

    A cocktail following the Negroni formula, but a million miles from the original. The balance in this drink comes from the bittersweetness of the Amaro and the Lillet. Both bring their own distinct flavours, but the complexity comes from the addition of Anejo tequila, which you could, if you were so inclined, swap out for any aged spirit - An aged rum would be an excellent choice. 30ml Anejo Tequila 30ml Amaro Averna 30ml Lillet Blanc Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and stir with ice. Garnish with an orange twist. HITTHiSBAR: High Life

  • A Guide To Vermouth

    Vermouth is a fortified wine aromatized and flavoured with botanicals that is excellent to sip as an aperitif or to mix into cocktails. It is particularly common in pre-prohibition era classics. The term fortified means made stronger, in this case referring to alcohol content, often raised by the addition of another grape-based product - brandy. When categorising vermouths, there are a few variables to choose from. Geographic region is an important one, and we will touch on the characteristics of different regions, but the most common determining factor is whether a vermouth is classed as sweet, dry and blanc/bianco. A sweet vermouth from one region will differ from the same product from a different region, so it’s useful to know the profile of both the type of vermouth and its geography. Remember vermouth is wine. It can be categorised similarly. There are dozens of brands of vermouth out there, each one creating a wide range of styles. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll include the largest players in the international market, and of course some of New Zealand’s own. As with everything consumable, this is subjective, so there will be no ‘best’, but we will go through the bouquet of each one and suggest where they might be best utilised. Sweet Originated in Turin, Italy in the late 18th Century. Despite the name, and having a sugar contents of roughly 10-15%, sweet vermouth is often more bittersweet in flavour, and is sometimes referred to as red or rouge. The common misconception is that sweet vermouth is red because it comes from red wine. This is often not the case, especially nowadays as almost all vermouth, sweet, dry or bianco, come from neutral white grapes. Some sweet vermouths use a mixture of white and red grapes, but most get their dark colour, and indeed their sweeter notes, from caramelised sugar. Botanicals included in sweet vermouth are more earthy spices than seen in its dry counterpart, and common include cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, cloves and anise. These strong, rich flavours can sometimes become the overarching flavour of a cocktail, which is why the most well-known classics using sweet vermouth, the Manhattan and the Negroni, use ingredients that can stand up to that richness, in Rye whiskey and Campari respectively. Dry A French variety created in the 1700’s, dry vermouth generally has a sugar content of less than 5%, and is less rich in flavour. Botanicals are citrusy, floral or herbaceous, leaving a clean finish. When used in a cocktail, dry vermouth is understated and excellent at bringing the best out of the drink's other components. A great option as an aperitif or digestif, dry vermouth is more palatable alone than sweet vermouth. Blanc (French) / Bianco (Italian) Coming about almost a full century after the other main types, Blanc/Bianco’s, due to their clear appearance, do sometimes get categorised alongside dry vermouths. In actual fact though, they are much sweeter, closer in sugar content to a sweet vermouth than a dry. They will however contain a botanical bouquet more herbal than spicey, and closer to that of a dry product from the same region. They're a very useful middle ground, almost a gateway towards dry vermouths, and are the best of the 3 to have over ice. Bottle Comparisons Below we’ve pooled together some of the most popular vermouths around. This list only touches on a few of the biggest brands, partly because they’re what most bartenders use, but also because it shows the difference in regions and styles more clearly, whereas different brands will always be unique. Sweet Vermouths: Carpano Antica Formula (Turin, Italy) - White wines from Italian grape varieties from Romagna, Puglia and Sicily. Vanilla heavy. Almonds and raisins. Better with whiskey than with gin. Use it in Boulevardiers and Manhattan’s as oppose to Negroni’s. Punt e Mes (Turin, Italy) - Translates to ‘one and a half’, referring to one part sweet, half part bitter. Cinnamon, Pine, Honey, Vanilla. Works great with Campari. Martini Rosso (Turin, Italy) - Wormwood initially, then heavy on caramel. 15% sugar content. Its best use is in a Negroni Dolin Rouge (Chambery, France) - Ginger and clove. Dried fruit finish. The least-sweet of this group. Very versatile but may leave Negroni’s too bitter for some palettes. Reid & Reid Red Vermouth (Martinborough, New Zealand) – Pinot Noir base. Manuka and Kawakawa bring the sweetness. Horopito, juniper, cassia and anise make the root elements. A very versatile product that can make subtle changes to classics when used in place of old-world alternatives. Dry Vermouths: Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth (Marsailles, France) - Camomile, Gentian, Bitter Orange. The driest without going into the Extra Dry category. Use this if making a classic dry Martini with a citrus-forward gin. Dolin Dry Vermouth (Chambery, France) - Wormwood-heavy, Cloves. Makes the best Dirty Martini, but is also a better option than Noilly Prat when blending with a sweet vermouth for a Perfect. Mount Edward Dry Vermouth (Queenstown, New Zealand) - Reisling and Chenin base see this start out very dry, with elderflower bringing a bit of balance to the equation. A really great aperitif with a wedge of citrus over ice or mixed with soda. Handy in cocktails but not so much as a like-for-like replacement for European dry’s - Great as a base for a lower-ABV mix. Blanc/Bianco Vermouths: Carpano Bianco (Turin, Italy) - Very winey. Not overly-complex. Use in a Martini as a less-dry dry vermouth. Carpano are arguably better at sweet vermouths than any other type. Dolin Blanc (Chambery, France) - Light citrus, Stonefruit, Grape (obviously), Pear, Floral. A great base for something lower-ABV, or in place of a blend in perfects. Martini Bianco (Turin, Italy) - Acidity coming from Trebbiano grapes. Sweetness from vanilla. A very high-quality, complex Bianco that almost isn’t worth mixing with anything other than soda or tonic. Karven Bianco (Riverhead, New Zealand) - Peach-forward with soft citrus. Kawakawa and Horopito. Richer in flavour than traditional European bianco’s. If you must mix it, make it the dominant component.

  • The Cure Thing

    The Cure Thing takes the classic sour formula but brings modern techniques and some unique flavours into a still excellently balanced cocktail. The inclusion of BBQ sauce give off slight Bloody Mary vibes in terms of mouth-feel, but this drink is balanced beautifully and is surprisingly refreshing. 60ml - Bacon Fat-Washed Dry Gin 30ml - Lemon Juice 10ml - Smokey BBQ Syrup 1 Dash - Elemental Coffee & Pimento Bitters Add all the ingredients to a tin and shake with ice. Serve up. Garnish with a discarded lemon twist and cracked black pepper. * For BBQ Syrup, add 100ml of water and 200ml of demerara sugar to a pan, bring it to a light simmer and add 100ml of smokey BBQ sauce. Let it simmer for 5 minutes. HITTHiSBAR: Pineapple Pisco Port

  • How To Make Allspice Dram

    Allspice is a dried spice made from Pimento berries. It got its fairly ambiguous name thanks, like lots of things, to colonisation. Early Europeans to the Caribbean thought that it tasted like a mixture of nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. Ingredients 1 cup - white rum 1/4 cup whole allspice berries 1 cinnamon stick 1 1/2 cup water 2/3 cup brown sugar Method Crush the allspice berries in a mortar and pestle (or with the bottom of a saucepan). Don’t go too fine - you'll only be filtering it out later.   Put the crushed allspice berries into a resealable jar or bottle. Add the rum and shake it. Leave it for 4 days, but come back to it every day for another vigorous shake. After the 4th day, give it a taste. If it needs any more of a particular spice (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, anise) to meet your taste, add them now. Leave it for another week or so, strain it and run it through a coffee filter. Clean out the resealable jar and add the strained mixture back in. Make a syrup from 1 cup of water and a cup of brown sugar. Once it’s cooled down, add it to the rum. Shake it well and leave it for a couple more days, after which your Allspice Dram will be ready to use. Allspice Dram is a spiced liqueur perfect for adding to tiki-style cocktails, but it can also be a great addition to a wider variety of mixed drinks. A few dashes in a Rye Old-Fashioned can really compliment the spices already present in the whiskey, bringing them further to the fore. It also goes just as well with brandy or Cognac as it does with rum. A little goes a long way, so be overly-cautious when adding it to cocktails. We keep ours under a slow-pouring spout for good reason. HITTHiSBAR: A Guide To Fat-Washing

  • South Pacific Bridge

    Smoky flavours and coffee is a pretty well-renowned combination, and the more commonly used spirit to meet this criteria would be Scotch. We found that the honey and vanilla notes in Del Miguey Vida Mezcal went superbly with the cinnamon in the Quick Brown Fox Coffee Liqueur in this Manhattan twist. 60ml - Del Maguey Vida Mezcal 20ml - Quick Brown Fox Coffee Liqueur 2 Dashes - Peychaud's Bitters 1 Dash - Orange Bitters Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and stir with ice. Serve up. Garnish with a tidy orange twist on the rim. This drink is named after the ocean that lies between the homes of its 2 main ingredients - The Mezcal from San Luis Del Rio, Mexico and Quick Brown Fox coming from Dunedin in New Zealand. HITTHiSBAR: Quick Brown Scotch

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