A few weeks ago we announced Broadsheet is again collaborating with Schweppes on its Birdcage bar during the Spring Racing Carnival.
To pour and talk drinks, we’ve invited two special guests to join us. First is Melbourne bartender Sam Ross, who once owned the much-loved Brunswick Street cocktail bar, Ginger, with his mother and sister. Ross now runs Attaboy on New York's Lower East Side, in a space vacated by the legendary Milk and Honey. Joining him is Rich Sommer, an actor best known for his portrayal of Harry Crane on the series Mad Men, and who recently shot a film called Hello My Name is Doris with Sally Field.
They met a summer ago, when Sommer was in New York for work, and was introduced to Attaboy by drinking buddy, Ty Burrell. He quickly became a fixture. “It was love at first sight,” Sommer says, “Sam hasn’t given me a reason to go anywhere else.” Sommer became interested in classic drinks through his role on Mad Men. “We were throwing a baby shower for one of the cast members and she wanted it to be a cocktail party,” he says. “I didn’t have much knowledge, so I bought a bunch of spirits, a book on cocktails and made Manhattans. “That was my first step down the rabbit hole.”
Ross, who invented the cocktail The Penicillin, hasn’t worked in Melbourne for a decade but has been staying abreast of the scene and visits frequently. “Back then, the practice was to throw as many ingredients into a drink as possible without structure or foundation. Now, you see a lot more structure as well as what Australia is known for – not taking yourself too seriously while still being very professional and attentive,” says Ross.
Ross has never been to the Spring Racing Carnival before and it’s Sommer’s first time in Melbourne altogether. “I love the history racing has with cocktails, like the mint julep at the Kentucky Derby,” says Ross. For Bar Schweppes by Broadsheet, he’ll be making what he’s become known for – classic cocktails with a twist. “There will be lots of American whiskies, mint and fresh produce. We’re going to talk drinks and have some fun.”
Ross also has quite the trip planned for Sommer: “My favourite spots are The Everleigh, Supper Club and Black Pearl. We might try and get into Attica for a meal. I’ve got some family with a sheep farm in rural Victoria; it’s beautiful this time of year so maybe I’ll get him out of his element and we'll go shearing some sheep,” Ross says. Sommer has done his homework on Melbourne, “but I’ll leave it in Ross’ hands. I’ve done that many times [at Attaboy] and I’ve never been disappointed,” he says.
The pair will be at Flemington on Derby Day, joining some of Melbourne’s best bartenders from Black Pearl, Le Bon Ton and Seamstress at Bar Schweppes by Broadsheet.