PS40 is one part small CBD bar, one part soda bottling plant. It might not seem viable to house a partly industrial business in a space that attracts CBD rents, but Michael Chiem and business partner Thor Bergquist make it work; they run the tank and bottling line during the day and serve their award-winning cocktails at night. PS40 won Cocktail Bar of the Year at the 2017 Bar Awards.
PS40’s line of sodas, called PS Soda, is now available to buy from the bar, and at other venues around Sydney.
Most of the soda flavours have a citrus focus, and like Chiem and Bergquist’s cocktails they’re made with fresh, raw ingredients. “We’re not pretending there’s no sugar in soda,” says Chiem. “Sugar carries a lot of flavour. But we use raw or white sugar rather than corn syrup or fructose like big soft-drink manufacturers.”
The core range is Wattle Cola, Blackstrap Ginger, Smoked Lemonade and Bush Tonic. To create the unique Smoked Lemonade, PS40 works with chef Luke Powell of LP’s Quality Meats to combine lemon, lime, rosemary and Murray River pink salt with smoked water. “It’s the most weird and wonderful flavour,” Chiem says.
PS40 collaborated with Archie Rose to create the Bush Tonic, to be paired with a gin. The tonic is made with Peruvian cinchona bark, which is a natural source of quinine. “Most tonics use quinine essence instead of actual quinine,” he says. “The red cinchona gives the tonic a touch of colour.
“I think it’s a really exciting time right now. Bartenders are making a lot of their base ingredients and distilling their own spirits,” says Chiem. “[For] the past 10 years I’ve bartended, the components I used were made by someone else. "[Working with Archie Rose on the gin] is the first time I've been able to make 100 per cent of my drink from scratch."