I reach into my fridge at least 30 times a day at this point. The upside to COVID-19 is that this is the most responsible, adult-like my fridge has ever been. It has forced me into the supermarkets on the daily while I work out portion control. Filled with essentials such as hummus, Greek yogurt, wrapped up leftovers, case of Reschs, Maybe Sammy reinvented classics, an oaky chardonnay, large glass bottle of water, a science experiment I started when stoned now I don’t know what it once was or what it has evolved into. Necessities I need to make it through this quarantine. 24 of those times are for the sweet nectar that is a stubby of Reschs.
Bartenders, sommeliers, baristas, shit! Just about anyone with some sensibility is packing away some serious drops of what would’ve been, dead stock sitting on a back bar or in a bar fridge. Jared Merlino of Lobo, Kitty, Bartolo and Poppa’s fame face-timed me while quaffing down a top-notch drop of 2009 Speri Amarone Della Valpolicella, a succulent plum and black cherry number laced with nutmeg, Al dente!
While I dream of filling my bath with Ruinart Blanc De Blanc while singing Barry White I’m both unprepared and a little apprehensive of indulging fine drinking bubbles for bathing. Here it leaves us with an inquisitive inquest to be had… Just what are our fellow cohorts swigging in this time of Corona and quarantine? We are in a peculiar set of circumstances where we are unsure when the world will resume as per usual and have on hand a plethora of fine ass booze to indulge.
From steering the ship at Black Pearl to now the head Abbot of Byrdi Melbourne, Nathan Beasley, is a stalwart of our industry (throw in a Bartender of the Year accolade too). A North Melbourne Kangaroos fanatic he usually washes down footy day meat pies with “whatever is fucking cheapest, probably longnecks of Coopers Sparkling Ale” which to be honest isn’t that damn bad, especially when the old cohort of South Melbourne AKA Sydney Swans get one over the Roos. During his lockdown you can if you could catch him sampling Levana Savvy-B from Crew wines, Yarra Valley.
Sticking to Melbourne for the moment and the ever-affable co-owner of Romeo Lane, Rita Ambros, is all love for the bar game and stovetop coffee. Sitting in her living room, Rita is straight down the line Miller High life but right now while the world crumbles nothing is better than a cold, wet gin martini “I didn’t think I was high maintenance when it comes to drinks, but now I’m thinking about it… Vodka or London dry gin. No fucking botanical rich shit, Australian gin. And Olives or nothing”.
Kelsey Ramage is currently on the other side of the world, in cold ass Canada, where the hangovers are cured with a cold snowball to the face and more booze. Kelsey is former bar manager of Dandelyan fame and now owns Supernova Ballroom in Toronto. Banging around Rascal and the now-defunct Beaufort while Kelsey and partner in crime Iain Griffiths spread their Trash Tiki love, I was privy to the compelling awesomeness that is Kelsey. Drinking cognac French 75s is usually her thing while home but it’s a tad hard to get your hands-on ingredients “without spanking $150” so she has commandeered her natty wine selection from Supernova, drinking in all that is Rosewood Unfiltered Pinot Noir and Pearl Morrisette Irreverence both from Ontario.
Natty wine, beers and classic cocktails are for now holding favour in our hearts. Long gone are the $3 bags of goon and shots of Frangelico. The modern bartender is busting out their local natty wine favourites or mixing some serious drops of cocktology steez and erring towards the classics more than ever. Let me tell you though, nothing beats the nectar of the quintessential South Sydney stalwart that is a Reschs straight from the stubby into the belly of the beast.