Taking five with 8th Ave’s Bar Manager

 Taking five with 8th Ave’s Bar Manager, Aaron Johnson

Over my life behind bars I’ve been shaking up different cocktails and drinks to compliment a wide range of cuisine’s and customers. Once you make the commitment to actually pursue this as a career though, it is hard to stay inspired and to keep learning. In a way, our first cocktail list here at 8th Ave Terrace was a continuation of what I had been doing and we were comfortable to let our new guests decide what they did and didn’t like.

Then one day I realized that the Chefs were having all the fun; playing around with different ingredients and creating dishes that, to be honest sounded strange as hell, but worked in the coolest ways! I also started to notice that our Chefs weren’t afraid of changing the menu regularly in order to keep it interesting. To be honest, I was jealous (don’t tell Chef Glen).

Then I started to talk flavours and processes with Glen and before you know it I was learning skills and techniques that most bartenders don’t get the opportunity to learn. Proper ways of extracting flavours to creating cordials, reductions, sugars and salts using seasonal ingredients that I hadn’t even considered before. Pomegranate and lychee gave way to Tasmanian organic miso, fresh figs and mandarins and these in turn started to shape the new cocktail list.

This new cocktail list is really attempting to connect the changing of the seasons not only with available produce but also how 8th Ave Terrace accommodates our guests. As the weather cools we’re not just adding heaters but looking to Australia and New Zealand’s alpine regions for inspiration in our food and beverage offering, creating “winter-warmer” cocktails so that our guests can enjoy our venue in a whole new way! Let’s face it, it doesn’t ever get that cold on The Goldy but who doesn’t like an excuse to get dressed up, throw a coat on and go out a night of good food and drink?

In particular, I am excited about launching our new Hot Mulled Wine for winter. We are using the more traditional spices and citrus zests to bring that distinct flavour, but to sweeten the mix we are making our own verjus from loose grapes that we would ordinarily throw away. This provides a much gentler sweetness to the wine whilst reducing the wastage from our kitchen. We then Sous Vide the mixture for 8 hours to boost the full flavour of the spices and zests. Take it from me; this is going to be one of those drinks you can build an evening around!

Ultimately I have really embraced this relationship with the kitchen and can’t wait for you to taste that connection that we are making between the food and the drinks and the seasons. It is my hope that while some of the ingredients I use might seem a little weird, if you roll the dice on something new you might actually find out that you like that something more than you thought you did!

Aaron Johnson

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