Chefs and bartenders alike are becoming more creative with how vegetables are being used, and the results are often outstanding. “Veggies have become the main feature,” says World Class judge, chef Darren Robertson of Three Blue Ducks in Bronte, and The Farm in Byron Bay.
For the past two years Robertson has been involved with the World Class Bartending Competition and has seen an increased focus on vegetables. He believes this stems from a growing understanding that fresh, seasonal vegetables taste amazing.
For Robertson, an increased focus on vegetables has occurred for a number of reasons, the most important being that people now understand that fresh, seasonal vegetables taste amazing.
"Seasonality is an amazing source of inspiration. It's a massive cliche perhaps, but cooking or making a drink from a local ingredient that is in season and tasting it's absolute best is a difficult thing to beat."
Tim Philips from Sydney’s Bulletin Place attributes the increased use of vegetables in bars to, “The movement in cocktails away from the standard sweet and sour flavour profiles.” With bartenders searching for savoury, herbal, bitter and earthy flavours, veggies are being used as core ingredients. For Robertson some of the most inspiring ways he's seen vegetables being used at the bar includes, "cold press juicing vegetables, using the juice as a natural sweetener, dehydrating the pulp and flavouring salts and sherbets with the dry concentrated powder." For Philips, his favourites include using freshly pressed fennel juice for an aniseed accent, rhubarb for poaching and carrot juice for sweetness.
Approximately 1.25 standard drinks
40ml Tanqueray no.TEN (soaked with baby beetroot for 36 hours)
10ml rhubarb juice
20ml quinine wine (also known as Lillet)
10ml lemon juice
10ml agave syrup
Measure all the ingredients except the soda water into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake. Strain over fresh ice into a highball glass and top up with soda water. Garnish with a lemon and beetroot wheel.