Liquid Intel: A Moreish Gimlet That Tastes Of High Summer, Chandon’s Merivale Moment, & More
— Updated on 14 June 2023

Liquid Intel: A Moreish Gimlet That Tastes Of High Summer, Chandon’s Merivale Moment, & More

— Updated on 14 June 2023
Randy Lai
Randy Lai

Well, we’re certainly in the thick of it now. As the festive calendar begins to swell – with end-of-year mixers, long lunches, and more “cocktail receptions” than you can stuff into an unusually big stocking – our resident tippling enthusiast (yours truly) has managed to pull himself together for long enough to bring you the November edition of Liquid Intel. There’s a cocktail recipe, gift-worthy bottle and, of course, an enthusiastic venue recommendation. You know the drill.

From a cuvée of Aussie sparkling made (rather niftily) with knowhow from Sydney’s most famous hospitality group to a waste-conscious Gimlet recipe you’ll want to make all Christmas long, let’s get stuck into this month’s highlights.

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Out On The Town: Skool Kitchen, Bali

Liquid Intel

Last week, amid the controlled chaos of the Boss Hunting AGM in Bali, we had the good fortune to act upon a tip offered by a close friend of the website, who counselled us to brave throngs of Indonesian traffic in pursuit of Skool Kitchen – a polished beachside restaurant in Canggu, where the mantra is primeval cookery served up in a pristine, loft-like setting. 

Breaking with the area’s reputation for bucketfuls of beer and sloshed tourists on scooters – well, sort of – Skool puts forth a side of Canggu’s hospitality scene that feels more mature, relaxed, and ultimately, ambitious. Overlooking the (in)famous Lawn beach club, one is able to embrace many of the signature elements that make Bali appealing in their best possible light: breathtaking views of the Indian ocean, a menu flowing with homegrown produce and beverage prices that won’t have you contemplating a second mortgage. 

For an evening of solid revels, soundtracked by the venue’s vibey collection of art pop vinyl, start with a few rounds of the namesake Skool Martini (AU$12.40) before moseying onto the restaurant’s tightly edited wine list. The latter is helpfully categorised by flavour profile and structure, though no matter whether you’re a rosé or Vermentino drinker, always order a side of the woodfired bone marrow ($14.30) to go with your weapon of choice. Can’t go wrong.

Fuel For Thought: Merivale x Chandon 2018 Cuvée Blanc de Blancs

Liquid Intel

Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to grab some face time with Dan Buckle: the erudite, Latin spittin’ Director of Winemaking at Chandon. Along with several other vintners from the popular LVMH-backed producer of New World sparkling, he was in Sydney to launch the latest vintage (2018) of the Cuveé Blanc de Blancs – made, rather notably, exclusively for restaurants and retailers within the Merivale umbrella. 

In and of itself, such bespoke bottlings for hospitality groups are hardly a new phenomenon – I’m reminded of Champagne Deutz’s long-standing association with The Peninsula Hotels – but what was so curious, and moreover welcome, was just how substantial the partnership between Chandon Australia and the nation’s biggest F&B operator appears to be. 

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Far from being a collaboration in name only, this BdB drew on the collective practical experiences of Merivale’s many sommeliers, including Robyn Fisher, who – among other things – was part of the OG team who opened Totti’s Bondi back in 2018. “We were excited to bring something unique to our guests that compliments [sic] the food we’re putting on the table,” says Fisher. “This cuveé flows so elegantly through the whole [dining] experience.” 

In that spirit, multiple Merivale somms were invited by Buckle to participate in the tasting panel – traditionally, an essential part of the process involved in the making of disgorged sparkling wines. The final assembly consists of Chardonnay from no less than 14 different plots in the Yarra Valley, and the finishing liqueur (or ‘vector’ as Buckle likes to call it) was selected specifically because of its ability to amplify the blend’s vibrant freshness and minerality. 

Left to mature on lees for just shy of four years, this is a citrus-forward style of bubbles that is all too easy to drink and agreeable with pretty much any cuisine that you choose to throw at it. In a month when you’re already being forced to make decisions about parties, presents, and lord knows what else, that ease of food pairing is something none of us should take for granted. 

Try This At Home: Matt Dale’s Strawberry & Myrtle Gimlet, RE

Liquid Intel

I’ve always found that a reliable measure for judging the excellence of any F&B venue is to consider how readily you’d make the trek there – despite lengthy distances and a moment’s notice. AN in Bankstown, Bar Planet in Enmore: these are, for me, eating and drinking dens that put the d-elight in destination; and to that shortlist, I’m now incredibly happy to add Re

A “modern Australian” cocktail bar from the mind of pioneering, zero-waste mixologist Matt Whiley, Re is one of those culinary destinations that justifies its existence even before your first beverage makes its way off the pass. From within the relatively tranquil confines of South Eveleigh, Whiley and his team concoct a range of shockingly delicious mixed beverages using food waste from some of the biggest names in Aussie hospitality.

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There’s a sherry fizz made with foraged coffee; a smoky Talisker number enriched using fish bones (seriously); and even a mind-bending fusion of classics like the Martini and Bloody Mary, flavoured with perfectly good tomatoes that might otherwise be chucked into the bin. That is to say nothing of Chef Josh Donachie’s addictive food menu which, put simply, is everything you want to eat before, during and after a big night on the tools. 

Point being, one is bound to discover something new (and more importantly, tasty) with each repeated visit – a sensation I was keen to convey to our readership at home with the aid of Re’s top-shelf venue manager, Mr Matt Dale. A veteran of hospitality both here and in his native Auckland, the recipe Dale proposed this month eloquently captures all the individual qualities that put Re in a class of its own making.

Building on the rock-solid foundation of the ever-popular Gimlet, Dale’s take on the eponymous lime cordial classic – shaken, not stirred – is both a great way to rid your fridge of excess fruit and celebrate summer. He explains below:

Here in Australia, strawberry season is about to be in full-swing: a phenomenon I can personally attest to based on the volume of fruit & cheese platters that change hands during December.
Most Christmases, strawberries are the first thing to be nabbed off the proverbial board. But there are rare instances in which they’re not immediately consumed and you’re left with a surplus of ripe berries that won’t survive another day.
The solution? Bring your holiday lunch/dinner parties to a perfect close with a couple of Gimlets – enhanced with those surplus strawberries that you didn’t get to over the course of your meal.
Paired with a little local lemon myrtle, the muddled fruit lends a charming, suitably Antipodean twist to the classic Gimlet recipe – so much so, that you’ll probably want to make these every weekend, all summer long.
At RE, we traditionally use calyxes (i.e. strawberry tops) in order to make our Gimlet variation, and these trimmings give a lovely green vibrancy to the finished drink – when you’re mixing, feel free to chuck ’em in as well!

Method: Combine the strawberries with the lemon myrtle and muddle in a cocktail shaker. Then add gin, lime juice, sugar syrup and enough ice to fill the brim of the shaker. Shake vigorously (for at least 30 seconds) and the double-strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lemon myrtle leaf and serve – preferably in the sun.

  • Archie Rose straight dry gin, 50ml
  • Lime juice, 20ml
  • Sugar syrup (1:1 ratio), 20ml
  • Lemon myrtle leaves x 3
  • Whole strawberries (preferably leftovers) x 3

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Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].


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