Martini Test Drive – Knightsbridge Penthouse
by The Editor
Let’s face it – Knightsbridge Penthouse is one of THE bars in Canberra. Years of success thanks to the stewardship of Bria Sydney and a stylish, well-heeled inner North clientele has seen ‘Knighty’ grab a foothold as a modern Canberra institution. So, why on God’s good earth have we taken so long to drop in for a martini? It’s madness.
As La Nina did her best to wash the Inner North into the lake, we sought shelter within Knightsbridge with other After Five tipplers. Shaking off the umbrella, we perched on the bar, wiped ourselves down with a serviette and engaged our bartender. “It’s martini hour.” we announced. “Take us on a journey.”
And so we began.
Our host for the evening was the affable Chris. “A journey? Where are we off to?” To be honest, looking out the window anywhere north of the Tweed was tempting, however we responded with the answer so often repeated when undertaking such brave acts of journalistic investigation. “Gin please. After that, we are in your hands.”
“Okay…” Chris replied, looking unsure but beginning to realise the opportunity presenting itself. “How about something Australian?” To be honest, this wasn’t what we were thinking. Something British was more our thoughts but hey, we had left the door open and, as we were in a venue of some repute decided to go along for the ride. It was the equivalent of one of those corporate trust-building exercises where business-types fall backward in the hope their colleagues catch them in time, except on this occasion there would be some sort of garnish and the fall may come much, much later.
Returning from the back of the bar, Chris presented a bottle of gin we had not yet come across. Produced by Distillery Botanica on the Central Coast, Moore’s Vintage dry gin was to be our master this evening. Made with Queensland Wild Lime, Cinnamon Myrtle, Coriander seeds, Illawarra Plum and Macadamia Nut, we were certainly in for an outback adventure.
Chris stared with a glass from the rack (Knightsbridge’s limited cold storage does not provide for such luxuries as chilled martini glasses) placed delicately on one edge of a cocktail napkin and filled it with ice. From the fridge came Noilly Pratt, while a Boston mixing glass was also filled with ice. The Noilly was splashed over the ice in the martini glass, while the Moore’s Gin made its way into the Boston. Much to our relief, with a long spoon Chris gently stirred the gin through the ice, careful not to agitate it too much for fear of hurting the gin or breaking down the ice (leading to excessive melting and dilution of the gin).
Before long, our martini was ready, complete with a twist of lemon spiralled on the top of the drink. It was time to take the plunge.
Taking a gentle sniff, the first to hit the senses was the lemon. Understandable really, given it had been at best thirty seconds since being removed from the fruit. The next aroma seemed like tea tree, but on further investigation revealed itself to be lemon myrtle. It was subtle, barely hiding behind the pure citrus. Even more enticing, after the very first taste, is the hint of cinnamon that sits on the back palate.
It’s all rather new and surprisingly complex for what might expect of an Australian gin – light in flavour, while still managing to remind one of the smells of heat-blasted bush in the height of summer. The balance between the sweetness and earthiness really came home once the palate opened completely, and we found ourselves nodding and smiling as the level of gin in our glass dropped lower and lower.
Moore’s Gin is a revelation, especially in the hands of a skilled operator such as Chris. if you spot it on the shelf of your local boozer, find someone who knows what they’re doing and have it with Noilly and a twist. Really, it’s proof that sometimes you don’t have to travel too far from home.