Mixing it up with InterContinental’s Cocktail Masterclass
Basking in sky-high harbour views and delectable canapés, Amelia Hungerford savours a VIP Cocktail Masterclass in InterContinental Sydney’s Club Lounge.
There are a few things you might expect from an afternoon of learning to make cocktails: alcohol (obviously), a bit of fun, confusion about which way to hold a Boston shaker (face the glass away from the customer!) and an almost-perfect-but-not-quite-as-visually-spectacular-as-the-original product at the end.
InterContinental Sydney’s Cocktail Masterclass offers all of the above (well, the Boston shaker mix-up is probably unique to me), with wit, wisdom, views and exquisite canapés thrown in with InterCon’s signature flair.
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Tal Thorne, top mixologist and the hotel’s Outlets Manager, guides us through an afternoon of tipple-tasting and provides said wit and wisdom. After a flight to the top floor and being admitted to the secluded Club Lounge, Tal is waiting for us with a recipe of his own devising, Setting Sun. We’re distracted by the flute of Campari, gin and sparkling wine for only a moment before noticing the view that surrounds us.
There are a lot of places that offer stunning views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but few with the all-encompassing panorama of InterContinental Sydney’s Club Lounge. Add to this the highest outdoor terrace of any of the CBD’s five-star hotels and you have a recipe for location perfection.
I’m probably biased, though. From the bridge and the Royal Botanic Gardens all the way to the heads and the ocean beyond, this is my favourite Sydney view. So often is it veiled behind its members-only glass door, there are few outside hotel guests who know of its existence. Fortunately, there is a way for Sydneysiders and other non-guests to take in the sun-soaked vista, and that is with a Cocktail Masterclass.
Tal is a generous teacher, sharing snippets of history with tips to mix an impressive drink. Our first is another Tal original, Cherry Blossom Girl, a smooth blend of jasmine tea-infused vodka (steeped overnight for a lingering, exotic flavour), Cointreau and a peach and yuzu purée, made by InterContinental’s chefs, and adding a delicious tang to the mix. He has even shared the recipe – you’ll find it below.
As I sip at my creation – delicious, but lacking the white foam that is the hallmark of a Cherry Blossom Girl well shaken – a parade of canapés arrives: skewers of Wagyu, duck breast, parcels of scallop, venison tartare. Constantin Kautz has only recently assumed the mantle as Head Chef, but if this small sample is anything to go by, diners are being wondrously indulged.
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We finish the lesson with Tommy’s Margarita, a classic twist on the Margarita invented not by Tommy, but by Tommy’s son, in 1962. It makes Tal’s shortlist for two reasons. The first is that it can easily be recreated at home (the not-so-secret ingredient, agave syrup, can be purchased from healthfood shops), giving we apprentice mixologists something to take away with us. The second is that it redeems tequila, that sadly maligned spirit, from the overindulgence of youth (ahem… guilty) to become a thoroughly quaffable ingredient in a delicious drink.
Tal certainly has it right on this occasion. My first impressions corrected, it is time to simply relax, soak up the vista from the wraparound terrace and indulge in five-star drinks and canapés.
The two-hour Cocktail Masterclass runs every Monday to Friday at 2pm. The cost of $59 per person (with a minimum of four) includes three cocktails, canapés and those achingly gorgeous views.
Cherry Blossom Girl
30ml jasmine tea-infused Absolut Elyx
30ml housemade peach and yuzu purée
15ml lemon juice
Micro amaranth or other micro-herbs to garnish
Combine all ingredients and shake to combine. Double strain into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with micro-herbs.
All images by Chris Is A Photographer