WORDS BY BEN DAVIDSON
What started as a discussion at Tales of the Cocktail last year (probably at the Alibi) between The Blend by Beam Suntory’s Hayley Morison and the bar team behind the world-renowned Dandelyan, resulted in a national roadshow in August that saw multiple collaborations with some of Australia’s leading bars.
Two of Dandelyan’s creative cocktail geniuses, James Wheeler and Will Meredith, embarked on the ambitious tour of Australia to share their love of cocktails with some of the country’s leading bartenders.
“I saw this as a unique opportunity for local bar teams to collaborate with the Dandelyan team to bring a unique menu to each venue for a night of exquisite drinks and delicious cocktails,” said Hayley. “This isn’t a takeover tour of pop-up activations, this is a true collaboration of creative bartenders that offers each involved personal development, education and inspiration from the minds of talent from across the globe.”
As one of Australia’s leading bartender engagement platforms, Beam Suntory’s The Blend brought to life this opportunity to further inspire bartenders and get them thinking outside of the box when it comes to ingredients, techniques and flavours.
Hayley said, “The Blends of the World is about education, inspiration and supporting the bar community with engaging experiences, and this tour helps deliver that goal. Whether you’re new the industry, or a veteran, there is something for everybody.”
The tour was focused predominantly on the bar trade, but also included consumer facing events for cocktails lovers to taste and enjoy the bespoke menus created by the local teams in each venue for the event.
There was a trade seminar in each city to share with local bartenders the philosophy of making drinks the Dandelyan way, covering topics such as modern botany, sustainability and innovative drink solutions.
Three venues were fortunate enough to collaborate with James and Will to create a ‘Dandelyan influenced’ cocktail menu for the consumer event, showcasing Beam Suntory’s portfolio and utilising Auchentoshan American Oak, Jim Beam Double Oak, Canadian Club 1858, Maker’s Mark and the newly launched ROKU Gin. These venues were the newly opened Tiny’s in Perth, Adelaide’s well-known Maybe Mae and Sydney’s iconic Charlie Parker’s.
Will Meredith was suitably impressed by the local teams that he and James got to know and work with, saying, “Tim Laferla and Mario La Pietra from Charlie Parker’s were absolute legends. They prepared all of the seminar drinks as well as collaborated with us to create some really funky ingredients based on previous flavours we have used at Dandelyan. This ranged from a filtrate inspired by Australian terroir, to an in-house fermented mead fortified with Australian botanicals. Some of these ingredients were then transported across Australia to the various cities to be developed with the teams from those respective cities. We worked alongside the teams in these cities to design the menus for each shift. James Pennefather from Tiny’s, Ollie Margan from Maybe Mae, and the Charlie Parker’s boys were all unbelievable to work with and really opened our eyes to interesting ways you can work with drinks and flavours.”
When asked about the creative process of putting together the Dandelyan cocktail menu James Wheeler said, “We put roughly six months of groundwork goes into our menus. It is a pretty intense process and it involves the entire team from start to finish. We base our menus around stories that the team have created; we then build drinks around those stories. It’s such a brilliant way of having the whole team truly believe in the menu and it really brings us all together in a unique way.”
The event at Charlie Parker’s saw the guys work with one of Australia’s most progressive and innovative bars to produce a menu of drinks that united the techniques and overarching philosophies that are propelling today’s drinks movement forward.
Particularly pleasing was the Natural Born Gatherer No. 2, with well-balanced flavours of passionfruit, cacao butter and whey, lengthened with sparkling wine and built on a foundation of Jim Beam Double Oak. Each ingredient was noticeable, yet subtle. Another standout was the Koji Hardshake, combining ‘homemade’ Koji syrup, fresh lemon, cream, liquorice bitters and Maker’s Mark. There were delicious umami flavours that gave the drink a subtle savoury and unctuous balance.
Dandelyan X Charlie Parker’s
Natural Born Gatherer No.2
Jim Beam Double Oak, passionfruit, whey, cacao butter, sparkling wine
ROKU Gin, fermented honey, native botanicals, fresh lemon
Maker’s Mark, koji syrup, fresh lemon, liquorice bitters
CC & Oil
Canadian Club 1858, corn rum, verjus, ironbark aged falernum
Auchentoshan American Oak, soil distillate, Margaret River cabernet sauvignon, moss essence
- One year in the making for the tour.
- Over 180 bartenders attended the seminars
- Over 4000 cocktails pre-batched
- Nine events in 13 days
- Five unique group chats with over 16 bartenders
- Each distinct cocktail menu was devised through a collaboration between Dandelyan and the activating venue