Wine has always dominated the restaurant scene as the go-to companion drink for any meal worth paying for. But with an incredible variety in flavour, texture and aesthetics, cocktails are being considered more widely as an in-house tool to accentuate and enhance food experiences.

Ed Loveday runs the bar at ACME, the irreverent and playful Italian diner in Rushcutters Bay. Loveday agrees it’s a requirement of any high-end restaurant’s bar to consider the nuances of the food menu when constructing a cocktail list. “For a long time cocktails were just sweet and didn’t make sense in a restaurant context,” says Loveday. “Any good cocktail has to have a balance of sweet, sour and bitter, even savoury as well.”

Loveday runs a succinct four-point cocktail list at ACME, covering each area of the menu. “Everything we serve on the drinks list has to match whatever comes from the kitchen,” he says.

The bar manager points out the pairing of ACME’s pig’s head and egg-yolk macaroni main with a white Negroni. A blend of Tanqueray gin, Suze (a bitter French aperitif) and Dolin Blanc vermouth, the Negroni creates a sharp, simple base for the rich macaroni. “Because of the Suze component, the bitterness is slightly softer, and because of the Dolin Blanc, the sweetness is a little bit higher,” explains Loveday. “The sweetness offsets the chilli kick in the macaroni.”

Not too far away at Cho Cho San in Potts Point, cocktail designer and bartender Adam George says he works with head chef Nicholas Wong to match both the taste and visuals of Cho Cho San’s menu.

George finds the bare-walled, fresh-focused izakaya has an inherent flow-on effect. “The decor and food here is all quite simple,” says George, of Cho Cho San’s philosophy. “It's not too elaborate and it's easy to look at, so everything from the bar reflects that.”

One of George’s lasting creations is the Kimono, a riff on the classic Martini. Combining Tanqueray No. TEN, Triple Sec, sake and ginger, it’s one of Cho Cho San’s big sellers. “It’s very simple,” says George. “You have that Tanqueray No. TEN hit in there, which is nice to go with the raw bar because it's so clean.” The citrus flavours of the gin and the subtle hint of sweetness in the sake and Triple Sec pair well with the pickled ginger, soy and cucumber of the Hiramasa Kingfish main, says George. “Everything balances together,” says George. “The saltiness of the soy, the sweetness of the pickled ginger and sake, and the fresh cucumber accompanying the main element of the Tanqueray No. TEN and Kingfish.”

60 Bayswater Road, Rushcutters Bay
(02) 8068 0932

Tue to Sat from 5pm

Cho Cho San
73 Macleay Street, Potts Point
(02) 9331 6601

Mon to Thu 5.30–10.30pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–11pm
Sun 12pm–10pm

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