Sunday, 25 August 2013

Be-ginned and beginnings: Secret Bar Crawl

Cocktail ingredients at Frisk! Bar
It was Mel who started it all. She was the one who was all over Twitter saying that she was interested in gin-based drinks that didn't involve tonic. I was the one who suggested that she could drink gin neat (good gin anyway) and that's when she, Michelle, and I decided that we were going to have a night sampling different types of gin. I wanted to go back to Bobeche to try their teapots of cocktail. Mel wanted to go to Frisk Bar because they specialise in gin (over 200 different varieties in the one bar). Suddenly, it wasn't just gin, and it wasn't just drinks - it was a gin crawl. 

Once it turned into a gin crawl, other people were interested in joining us and thus it was that we planned for an evening where we would spend an hour at Bobeche and then move onto Frisk providing the times when we would be at each venue so that others could join us at a time that suited them.

Quiet and relaxed at Bobeche
First stop, Bobeche, which was quiet for a Saturday night, but it was still early - only 7pm. I got there first and settled into the area right at the back of the bar. The waiter was friendly, bringing water and bowls of popcorn, and waiting patiently for everyone to arrive (and there were 5 of us) before taking our order. 
Candle-lit teapot
 We decided on the Bobeche Iced Tea because it was the mix that had gin it it - to be specific, Tanqueray Gin, Ketel One Vodka, Pampero Blanco Rum, Cherry Heering, spiced tea, lemon, and lemonade. 

Bobeche teapot menu.
It came in an elegant china tea-pot decorated with an orange glaze and oriental patterns. It was poured into delicate wide-bowled tea-cups. It was sweet with a kick, refreshing but relaxing, easy to drink, and good value at $62 for 4 people. Four of us managed to get about three teacupfuls each.

It was a fine winter's night, practically spring-like, so we walked from the city centre to Northbridge and Frisk. I had been there exactly one week before for the cocktail-themed Secret Cake Club, and it was nice to be back with another chance to try the different gins that the bar had to offer. We met up with another 4 friends there, and had a table outside on the street. 

There was a lot more activity at Frisk and the hard-working bar staff were kept on their toes, mixing cocktail after cocktail, not just for our group but for everyone else. I have to confess at this stage I fell off the gin wagon and ordered an espresso martini (made with vodka) because I hadn't had one the week before.

No gin here - espresso martini.
 I did, however, manage to redeem myself later on, trying a Negroni made with Citadelle gin (my discovery of the night - essence of sandalwood, pine, and ginger), a classic G&T made with Caorunn (Scottish) gin - flavoured with heather and other 'Scottish botanicals' and then headed back to the Negroni, this time made with Sipsmith gin. 

Negroni made with the superb Citadelle gin
Around me, the others were trying Friskatinis - the house cocktail made with gin and Chambord - more espresso martinis, G&T with chili and basil garnish. Somewhere along the line, we had forgotten the original plan to get away from the ubiquitous tonic, but by that stage it didn't seem to matter.

Chili and basil G&T
It was a fun night out and not just because of all the cocktails. It was a chance to get dressed up, go out, meet some new people (some of us had only ever met online before), and socialise over drinks. 
Just one page in the gin menu.
Towards the end, when we were all thoroughly be-ginned, we had an idea that it would be great to do it all again on a future occasion. People suggested other bars that they would like to try and we were trying to imagine the best possible sequence in which to crawl these places.

G&T with Caorunn Scottish gin - flavoured with heather, garnished with apple.
It was Mel who started it all. She was the one who got onto Twitter and found out that the handle 'Secret Bar Crawl' wasn't taken. I was the one who suggested we work together to plan another crawl - following the model of Secret Cake Club - and that's when Mel went home and channeled her jet-lag (she was just off the plane from Europe the day before) into a Twitter account, Facebook page, email account and a bunch of followers.

Welcome to Secret Bar Crawl. Join us for drinks.

Negroni made with Sipsmith gin.

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