If you’ve ever ventured into the Spinningfield’s area of Manchester you’ll notice many a bar and restaurant serving businessmen, ladies who lunch or myself propping the bar up as I dive through the drinks menu. One such time happened last week, at a rather well-known yet unknown venue named Australasia. I say unknown due to its rather unique entrance – a triangle shard of glass sticking out of the ground with a door leading to a staircase. I remember I use to pass without realising it was there, and bewildered when it first opened of where this place was. Now I’m familiar, and after a chance meeting with the venues new BDM Gill Andrews and Bar Manager Jenny (of the Hilton’s Cloud 23 fame), I can report back to you all with wonderful memories.
As mentioned, I’ve been here before and have always kicked myself for not coming back many a time since, but with whispers of their new cocktail menu arriving shortly, coupled with food and wine menu revamp too, Australasia is breathing new life into their underground den. The drinks menu itself is simple, no descriptions, just names only. Daring but it works because the bartenders have to work to sell you a drink. You feel looked after knowing that the gentleman or lady behind the bar actually knows their stuff, the ingredients within and why you will love each and every one of them.
Oh, and also how to make them consistent.
For example, the Smokey Old Fashioned. A base of Woodford Reserve coupled with maple syrup and bitters over an ice ball. Smoke, courtesy of oak chips via a chemical flask, adds the sense of magic to the drink, as well as aromas which linger even when the smoke has cleared. Fantastic, and I’ve only ever had them from their fellow Alchemist. Consistency really is the key for these kind of places.
A couple of other new delights to wet your appetite over the next few months include Bushfire and Alice Spring Punch. Bushfire has the combination of Grey Goose Citroen, Benedictine, fresh grapefruit, lemon juice and sugar syrup with a good sprig of thyme soaked in Sunset Very Strong Rum and lit. Slightly sour for my liking as I’m a man with a sweet tooth, but the freshness made this a winner for me. The herbal Benedictine and grapefruit mix well with the citrus flavours, and the hint of the Sunset rum gives it a slight kick if sipped. Alice Spring Punch blended Russian Standard vodka with lychee purée Briottet lychee liqueur, Monin Hibiscus, fresh lemon and topped with Australian ‘Champagne’. A lovely tangy hit from the Australasian ‘Champagne’, with the hibiscus and lemon punching well against the double dose of lychee and vodka. Fantastic lingering sweetness too.
The highlight of my visit for me personally came in the form of a short drink named Round The Twist. Using Russian Standard vodka, stem ginger purée fresh lychee, lime juice and velvet falernum, it created a well-balanced, mouth-watering drink that offered freshness with a lingering velvet and lychee flavour.
So the above gives a good idea of what to expect from the Australasia team, but of course some of the staples have been kept including the Pineapple and Jasmin Daiquiri, Ladyboy Martini and The Australian Porn Star (£7.95 each). Coupled with a menu that includes wine, both Champagne and sparkling wines from Australia, New Zealand and England and a good offering of seven Sake to go with your oysters, sushi and tempura delights, Australasia really does cover all the basis that you expect.
As mentioned, new menus are coming out, I’d book yourself in before you miss them.
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