Last April, before the opening of her canteen-style eatery Lucky Kwong, celebrity chef Kylie Kwong and colleagues spent the day planting native Australian ingredients in a permaculture vegetable garden in South Eveleigh’s village square, just 50 metres away from the restaurant. Now the literal fruits of their labour have been made into a soda, with help from pioneering bartender Matt Whiley of neighbouring Re–.
The pretty pink drink – dubbed Lucky Kwong’s Community Soda – starts off with bush mint, which Whiley turns into a light tea. Then leftover Byron Bay Davidson’s plum seeds from the restaurant’s kitchen (an extension of Re–’s no-waste philosophy) are blended into a powder and infused with verjuice. Fresh old man saltbush and anise myrtle powder are turned into a syrup, then the tea, verjuice and syrup are mixed with passionfruit vinegar to create the final drinks. It’s refreshing, as all sodas should be, but also unique and distinctive.
“Smelling and tasting Lucky Kwong’s Community Soda immediately transports me into the Australian bush and takes me back to that joyous day creating the garden,” Kwong says in a statement.
She worked with Cudgenburra/Bundjalung educator and environmentalist Clarence Slockee, Arrernte/Bundjalung/Kalkadoon woman Lille Madden and permaculture expert Aaron Sorenson on designing the vegetable patch, assessing the site and choosing which species to grow. Students from the nearby Alexandria Park Community School also came down to help.
All proceeds from the Community Soda are going to Seed, Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network, which is empowering young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to block the fracking of shale gas in the Northern Territory.
Lucky Kwong’s Community Soda is available exclusively at Lucky Kwong. Each 180-millilitre bottle costs $10.