While drinking cocktails is easy, creating them can be really hard. Especially if you are trying to do it on the fly, there are very few of us that could pull it off.
Yet to listen to Chris Garner, the Bar Manager at Employees Only, Sydney, you’d think the process was really straightforward.
“It’s really just a simple clash of two simple drinks,” Garner says about his new cocktail creation. “It’s not groundbreaking, it’s just a new take on some old drinks.”
By pulling together the best of a Trinidad Sour and a Dark ’N’ Stormy, Garner has created the Calypso Sling, a tasty, spicey, all-weather drink that he actually created quickly one night for a patron.
“One of my regulars here, Mike, was coming in and he was asking for something different, drink after drink. He wanted something big and spicy but without Ginger, which is the bartenders cheat ingredient to make anything spicy, without the chilli factor.
“So I just kind of started riffing and when the combination came to me, I was like ‘This is it, this is going to work’. It’s one of those drinks, that rarely come about, where you make it and you just that it works.”
No matter what your approach to creating drinks from scratch, Garner points out that there are three really important components to any drink you make.
“The cocktail should have to have an amazing nose, that makes you intrigued about the drink, they’ve should also have a great mid-palette and they should finish with that long complexity.”
And that goes for the Calypso Sling as well. In this drink, you are immediately tempted by the herbaceous smell of the Angostura and Mint, which is followed by the spice in the drink, which is followed by the sweet lingering taste of the Orgeat.
“You want to make sure that the drink has a big body to it,” he says “It’s a great all-round drink, it’s light and refreshing enough that you could drink it on a warm day but it also has that spicy carbonation that also makes it perfect on a cold night.”
No matter in what weather you make this drink, keep in mind that Garner believes that this is definitely not a stand-alone concoction. He says, with a glint in his eye, that it should be drunk, like a Martini, in pairs.
Garner has used Appleton Jamaican Rum for this drink
“You want something big and bold that stands up to both the Angostura and the Orgeat because they’re big spicy ingredients,” he says, “so you want a Rum that will match up to it. A white rum wouldn’t work but a dark rum is good.
Topping the drink
While most of us would usually top a drink up in the glass, Garner explains that they do it in the tin, in case it needs to be altered.
“It’s just a style that we do here, we like to keep it all within the one tin, so you can taste the drink altogether. Once it’s in the glass it should be considered the guests’ product, but while it’s still in the tin it’s our product. So if we need to change anything, we can alter it in the tin, rather than the glass.”
Technique – free pour
While Garner will usually free pour the ingredients he uses, he doesn’t necessarily recommend it unless you’ve had a lot of practice.
“Sure give it a go,” he says, “but maybe for the first time, measure it out and find out what the drink tastes like before you can make it.
“We’ve been taught not to build drinks as such, but rather to understand how they taste and then to make them to that taste.”
45mls Appleton Jamaican Rum
20mls Lime Juice
12 dash Angostura Bitters
Top with Ginger Beer
Shake all ingredients except Ginger Beer. Fine strain into a highball glass with ice. Top with Ginger Beer