World-renowned cocktail extraordinaire Grant Collins has cooked up an exciting new menu of Summer Cocktails for his popular venue The Collins Bar. We were lucky enough to be given an exclusive preview of the new menu, and I have to say that it was an experience like no other. Every cocktail is a complete experience for the senses; the presentation of each is impressively sophisticated. The scene is set for your first feel and smell, and then the taste completes the story.
The new menu won’t launch until January, but when it does, I highly suggest you all make your way to Victoria Square for a cocktail... or 6. Here’s Radelaide’s Top 3 picks from the menu - it was like picking my favourite child, or so I would imagine…
The Rubber Ducky
Okay. Not only is it the cutest thing you’ve ever seen in your life, but it is delicious. Rose Vodka, fresh lychees, rose syrup, apple juice and lychee liquer. The rubber duck chills on a bubble bath of lavender and champagne emulsion while you consume this sweet and soothing drink.
Spiced Blueberry and Ginger Shrub
On a hot afternoon in Adelaide, nothing could be better than this. Served in a bright blue tin mug, this spiced rum, blackberry syrup and crème de mere mix is cooled down with crushed ice, and spiced up with a cinnamon stick, and sweetened with edible flowers. I could have just about drank this one all day.
The American Dream
To all of the basic bitches of Adelaide, this is no ordinary Espresso Martini... this is the ultimate. At first you wonder why it has a name like this, and then you see it. A comforting mix of vanilla-spiked vodka, coffee reduction, espresso and coffee liqueur is made 1000 times more awesome with a doughnut syrup, caramel foam and grated chocolate. Just when you thought you had entered Heaven or Illuminati or something, it is topped with a jam doughnut. Basically it's what I imagine happiness would taste like if someone translated it into a beverage. * Heavy Breathing *
Originally from Cornwall in England, Grant has been a mixologist for 15 years, having worked in London as a bartender before moving to Australia where he has lived for 10 years. We had a mano-e-mano with the self-proclaimed ‘quarter-Australian’ about his world of cocktails, and how South Aussies like to drink them.
Where does your inspiration for your Cocktails come from?
The short answer is it never really starts. Some of my icons are some of the greatest chefs in the world, like Ferran Adrià or Heston Blumenthal. I love what they do with food and I love their creative flair. Much to my wife’s annoyance, every time I go out for dinner there’s something there that lights the creative spark in me.
Are you inspired more by what you eat or what you drink?
Both; the culinary side of things more so than the bars I go to though. I draw a great deal of inspiration from pastry chefs- sometimes I go for a meal and order 5 desserts just so I can see how things are plated and put together.
How important is the presentation aspect?
I do 3 or 4 hour master classes on this subject. The eye appeal is something chefs have been doing for years, but we haven’t been doing it in bars that much. Using all the elements and all the senses is really important for me. I did it just before with all of you, I put down the Caribbean Cloud and everyone goes ‘Ooo’. Your brain’s already excited, so is your stomach, and then your mouth starts watering. I want to engage all the senses, and continually raising the bar is important to me.
How do you find the cocktail culture in Adelaide?
When I first came here it was a bit of an exploratory trip; lots of bars, lots of pubs, seeing what people drink and wear... I wanted to see what culture is happening in Adelaide.
In the last 4 years [the cocktail culture] is almost unrecognisable from how it was when I first came here. There are so many cool little bars and a really great buzz around Adelaide. I love coming down here, and I’m so excited every time I come to find a new pop up bar. People are really clued up on their food and wine here.
You mentioned in the presentation how popular Espresso Martinis are in Adelaide at the moment…
When I came here everyone asked me if I was going to put an Espresso Martini on the list and I was really surprised. I worked with the guy who invented it in in London in 1990, and at first it was a bit blasé but now I’m eating my words because they’re so popular. I travel most of the major cities in Australia and Adelaide is definitely the Espresso Martini capital of the country.
What’s your favourite drink?
That’s so hard to answer, but at the moment I’m playing around with marshmallow a lot. You can marshmallow anything, and it works really well. Another day I might want to drink craft beers, another day red wines, or sometimes I’ll feel like a martini or mojito. I also like a good Guinness.
Try Grant’s amazing new range at the Collins Bar from January 19. In the mean time, be your own bartender with his new book Mix It Up.
Huge thanks to Grant Collins, The Collins Bar, and Gray’s PR for having us to indulge in my inner Carrie Bradshaw. All pictures taken by Paige Kerin.