Long before Michael Madrusan opened his string of successful Melbourne venues – including upstairs Fitzroy cocktail bar The Everleigh, and Heartbreaker and Bar Margaux in the CBD – the restaurateur worked as a bartender in London and New York. Suffice to say he can shake a world-class cocktail.
“It’s funny, it’s times like these that help everybody get creative with that they do … to survive,” he says, referring to how his businesses have adapted to life under lockdown.
“We’ve always operated in a way that’s taken care of people first,” he says. “Like a DJ, we’ve always enjoyed playing to the crowd because we like making the crowd happy,”
In that spirit, he’s shared three easy-to-make, Everleigh-style cocktails, which use ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. “Drinking good drinks is a lot easier than people think,” Madrusan says. “It’s kind of like baking – once you get your hands in that bowl with that mix, you might as well make it good.”
The Don Julio tequila-based Maid in Mexico, the first cocktail on Madrusan’s recipe list, is a classic people-pleaser. “People love tequila,” he says. “It’s actually a really simple drink and in our world it’s the simple drinks that are most praised and effective. They highlight each individual spirit because we insist that everything has to be good quality.”
At home, Madrusan keeps his bar stocked with a bottle each of good-quality gin, whisky and tequila. His second cocktail, the Tattletale, is a twist on a Scotch Old Fashioned with a spike of peated Islay whisky and a Copper Dog blend. Finally there’s the Tanqueray-based Oh Mary!, which is a bit like a Bloody Mary, only without the heavy tomato-juice base. It’s also got a cheeky dash of sherry vinegar (Madrusan usually picks up a Romulo at Meatsmith, but most supermarkets stock a version). “It almost gives you permission to drink it at any time of the day,” he says.
Madrusan’s main takeaway for home-bound amateur bartenders is that you don’t need to make a big investment to drink well while your favourite bars are closed.
“Get a couple of bottles, find a couple of recipes and get mixing,” he says.
Maid in Mexico
Makes 1 serving. Approx. 1.8 standard drinks
60ml Don Julio Blanco Tequila
30ml fresh lime juice
20ml sugar syrup (one part caster sugar, one part warm water)
2 cucumber slices
Small sprig of mint leaves
Add ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a large rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with cucumber slices and mint sprig.
Makes 1 serving. Approx. 1.9 standard drinks
45ml Copper Dog whisky
15ml Talisker or Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Dash (5ml) honey syrup (2 parts honey to 1 part warm water)
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Lemon twist, to garnish
Build ingredients in a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Makes 1 serving. Approx. 1.5 standard drinks
30ml Tanqueray London Dry gin
22ml manzanilla sherry
15ml lemon juice
15ml sugar syrup (1 part caster sugar, 1 part water)
7ml sherry vinegar (Madrusan uses Romulo, but supermarket brands work too)
2 dashes hot sauce
4 cherry tomatoes (reserve 1 to garnish)
Freshly cracked pepper, to garnish
Add all ingredients to a shaker and muddle. Add ice and shake. Strain into a frozen double rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a halved cherry tomato on a toothpick and fresh pepper.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Diageo Reserve World Class. Drink responsibly.