In case you hadn’t noticed, Gin is kind of having a moment. From a refreshingly classic G&T to a rosemary infused cocktail, the versatility of Gin is second to none. I sat down with the ultimate Gin connoisseur Grant Collins of The Powder Keg to chat cocktails, botanicals and gorgeous garnishes.
Gin is such a versatile ingredient, what is the perfect accompaniment to create wow factor for the ultimate wedding cocktail?
Due to the complex make up of gin, with it’s varying botanicals, it lends itself to many options for presenting, pairing and serving. From creating a home made tonic water or using a quality bottled tonic (such as Fever Tree or Fentimans) and serving long over ice with some garnishes that further showcase the botanicals in the gin – think liquorice, star anise, pepper, edible flowers, juniper berries, cucumber and rose petals. Or for further servings in experiential style drinks, gin can be used in a variety of punches or cocktails with visually appealing garnishes that showcase the botanicals specific to the gin and cocktail ingredients (think martinis, champagne cocktails).
I sometimes like to include the use of exotic teas to bring out the flavours of the botanicals. This adds a point of difference but also a very refreshing, easy to drink cocktail for wedding guests.
Alcohol is always a key ingredient when it comes to a great wedding or event, what is your take on creating a signature drink for your guests?
The key to success at an event or a wedding is to ensure their needs are fulfilled. Some guests like fun interactive cocktails while others prefer simple classics or a good twist on a gin and tonic. It’s always about adding a personal touch for the wedding too, making it unique for them.
What would be your ideal aperitif for kicking off a great party?
First of all having an alcohol amuse bouche – followed by a nice clean spritz always works well. Amuse bouche ideas; edible Negronis, deconstructed gin and tonics, Margarita ice cream with gin and tonic sorbet, spritzes using fresh light clean ingredients like Campari, Aperol, Chartreuse – I always top this with a nice light but good quality Prosecco.
What new trends are emerging in the world of cocktails and events?
It’s important to keep your finger on the pulse, research and be across global trends. I really try and create trends and stay away from the mass market. This way you are always moving forward and creating a unique point of difference.
For my consultancy, it’s really important to gain a good scope of work upfront as well as meet the guest needs of the individual client. For example, at the Adelphi in Melbourne, the hotel required very visually appealing drinks with an experiential quality to match their unique deserts. So, I created drinks such as smoked marsh mellow collidas served in a vanilla fog, savoury bloody Mary’s served in a porthole infuser that enables the ingredients to infuse themselves with olive, thyme, rosemary, cherry tomatoes and pepper. On this list I also included a ‘English Secret Garden’ which is served in a snow dome on a plate of edible soil, with absinthe jelly garden worms, and a rose scented incense stick. The drink consists of fresh elderflower, apple, chartreuse and gin.
Whereas The Intercontinental in Double Bay, required more classic drinks so I reverted back to forgotten classics from the 1920s and 30s which hit the spot quiet nicely. The Conrad Maldives required some nice refreshing, light and fruity beach side drinks, which are easy to drink in the heat.
The Powder Keg, Potts Point was a heavy gin focus theme with an emphasis on fun and interactive drinks. The drinks were created to engage all the senses – serving drinks which are visually appealing, working a lot on smell and scent as 80% of our taste is through your nose. Many drinks on the list have an element of eating first, giving you an initial flavour before sipping. This together gives you a unique combination of flavours and textures.
I am still using liquid nitrogen, dry ice in my creations and love creating edible cocktails and sorbets but I think recently using more of a refined and simplistic approach has been the way forward as many bars are now picking up on this.
At present, I’m using a rotavapour which is a $20,000 piece of chemistry kit which you can use to re-distill any flavour – currently experimenting with fresh horse radish root and vodka for bloody Mary’s, liquorice root infusions for gin and even the use of bark, leather and soil to create unique flavours in alcohol.
For spring I am working on a freshly cut grass infused gin for a simple twist on a gin martini (this will be great for a spring/summer wedding!). Overall, if I had to summarise and pick a trend, it would definitely be ‘less is more’ using best quality ingredients and top quality alcohol where possible and adding that unique twist.
If you like the sound of Grant’s incredible gin concoctions, then book yourself in his to Potts Point restaurant The Powder Keg. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Drop in for cocktail hour and stay for dinner – the oysters finished with a gin and tonic sorbet, the scotch egg and the steak tartare can not be beaten.