Rachael Merritt, the head bartender at the Kings Cross neighbourhood bar Jangling Jack’s will tell you, half-jokingly, that naming a cocktail is the hardest part of cocktail creation.
Looking at the names that appear on the bar’s new cocktail menu, you wouldn’t think that they had any trouble at all.
With names like Darling Nikki, Final Farewell and Sting Like A Bee, you know that there’s a story behind each one that you really want to listen to as Merritt skillfully strains a well-constructed drink into your glass.
“Drinks like the like the Curious Martini is all about creating a twist on something classic and doing something different with it. So this is our take on the Dirty Martini, and for that, we came up with the word ‘curious’ to describe it.”
It’s not just ingredients that affect how a drink is named. As Merritt points out, anything can serve as inspiration, even a bit of pop culture.
“Another of our drinks has the name Brand New Key, which is a song by an artist called Melanie from the 1970s,” she explains. “It’s a song about a woman who’s a bit of a crazy stalker, and we thought that was quite funny to use as a name for a Vodka drink.
“We know that’ll probably be one of our most popular drinks this season, so we’re all waiting to see if anyone is going to get the joke.”
Changing their menu seasonally, Jangling Jack’s credits much of their creativity to the influence of their resident chef.
“It’s nice to have someone who thinks about flavours in a completely different way than I do, Merritt adds. “Even looking at something like texture, which is important in drinks, I find our chef can sometimes give me advice about how to get a better mouthfeel in a drink”.
The kitchen and bar working together can be seen in cocktails like Darling Nikki, where beetroot has been cooked in Maple Syrup to give it a wonderful sweet savouriness. Once prepared, the bar takes the liquid, and the kitchen gets the beets to for salads.
The raspberry fermentation found in the Curious Martini is another drink created through the harmony of the kitchen and the bar working together.
“Ferments are something that’s big on trend right now, across the bartending community, on a global scale,” Merritt says. “It’s an easy way to use seasonal ingredients throughout the year.
“So once things like Raspberries, Strawberries and Cherries are out of season, we’ll still be able to make these drinks because we have a back stock of all the ferments.”
Whether you are using fermented ingredients or reimagining a classic, Merritt believes that adhering to the measurements required by any cocktail recipe is a vital and often overlooked point.
“If you decide to slug a heap of Gin into a drink,” she says, “it’s going to affect and change the taste. So whether you’re following the recipes that I’ve given or you’re following recipes online, it’s really important to stick to the measurements.”
- 50mls Gin
- 10mls Dry Vermouth
- 10mls Raspberry Brine
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a Nick and Nora glass and garnish with a Raspberry.
Brand New Key
- 30mls Vodka
- 20mls Aperol
- 10mls Blood Orange Liqueur
- 30mls fresh Lemon Juice
Add all ingredients to a shaker tin with ice. Shake and fine strain into a Coupe glass