Each with its own historic and innovative story, the cocktails and their inspiration will vary monthly. This month the cocktails Banana Milk Punch, Gimlet, and Riberry Pink Gin take their inspiration from the history and traditions of the Royal Navy.
The support of the Royal Navy was a key part in the establishment of British trade routes throughout the world that would introduce ingredients that had previously been undreamt of. Rum from the Caribbean, bananas from tropical regions of India, vanilla and coffee from Mexico and Guatemala, and tea from China were all important imports. These are also some of the fundamental ingredients in our Banana Milk Punch. The term “punch” which means five in Sanskrit was brought to England from India by employees of the British East India Company in the early 17th century. Clarified milk punches, also known as ‘English milk punches’, can be traced back to the early 1600s. Originally the technique was used for preservation purposes as clarification removes many of the perishable compounds in the milk. At Dinner the technique is used to achieve texture and flavour. The end result is a liquid with a light, crystal clear appearance that maintains the silkiness and richness of milk.
Banana Milk Punch (c.1600)
Rum, Madeira, Assam tea, banana, sandalwood, vanilla, coffee, lemon and milk
Due to lack of refrigeration or preservatives in the 1800s the most typical Navy rations were salted meat or fish, biscuits, dried peas, oatmeal and puddings made of suet and flour. Mariners in the Navy would be administered lime juice with small amounts of alcohol for preservation by ship’s doctors to prevent scurvy on long sea voyages where fresh fruit and vegetables were scarce. Some captains concerned for the health and morale of their crews would try to procure vegetables for their sailors whenever possible though nothing was as morale building than the sailors’ rations of tot or rum. Officers were usually issued gin which was famously mixed with lime juice rations to “help the medicine go down”. One of these officers was Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Desmond Gimlette who is thought to be the namesake of the Gimlet cocktail.
In the late 1870s the owner of a shipyard in Scotland, Lauchlan Rose, patented a process for preserving fruit juice with sugar rather than alcohol that would become Rose’s Lime Cordial. Rose’s Cordial would soon thereafter be adopted instead of fresh lime juice in gimlets. Our take on this is a lime cordial made with finger-limes native to Australia which gives the cordial more rounded texture and complex notes.
Gin, Native lime cordial
The rations of alcoholic drinks for sailors as well as officers were not only morale building but also medicinal. A European doctor who had settled in the town of Angostura in Venezuela created the now world famous bitters to treat stomach disorders and indigestion of his fellow settlers. They eventually found their way around the Caribbean with sailors being eager customers for any potion that could potentially remedy sea sickness. Ship’s Captain of the H.M.S. Hercules decided to try the remedy and found that the bitters were greatly improved by the addition of gin. The concoction was served to other officers on board, the word spread and Pink Gin as it became known was soon popular throughout the Royal Navy. Our approach to this drink was quite similar to the traditional Pink Gin but with the addition of another native Australian botanical, the riberry or lilly-pilly which we infuse into the bitters for their aroma.
Riberry Pink Gin (c.1830)
Gin, riberry, bitters
Savoury foods heighten saliva production which changes how we perceive the mouthfeel of a drink making a well rounded drink even more smooth. Salt content also has a similar effect on how we perceive flavours by enhancing acidity. We created our snacks specifically for the bar with those things in mind. The Duck and Beetroot Crackers are not inspired by the Royal Navy but by a Fat Duck recipe and they presented an excellent opportunity for another nod to native Australian botanicals. They are seasoned with a spice salt made with mountain pepper, riberry salt and Tasmanian pepper-leaf. Finally, our newest addition and the perfect accompaniment to any drink the Scotched Quail’s Egg with Devilled Ketchup. Our Scotch egg was inspired by a recipe for devilled pork: pork seasoned with cayenne and mushroom ketchup from The English Cookery Book, Receipts Collected by a Committee of Ladies edited by J. H. Walsh in 1858.
Make a reservation at the Bar to experience the cocktail flight. Walk-ins are welcome.