Two cocktail-related news bites for you today.

Item one! Last week saw the official launch of The Black Sparrow, a beautiful space with very delicious food and drinks. You might be like “huh, what, where?”. We’ve already written about the bar, but that was when it was confusingly called Deluxe – it’s under the Embassy Theatre. You can read lots more about the Black Sparrow in this post by Paul Blomfield, but suffice to say based on what we ate and drank (check out the menu PDF with cocktails and sliders and sundaes), we will definitely be going back there – just as soon as that horrible friend-swallowing plague has finished.

Item two! Last night the 42Below National Cocktail Championship was held at the Front Room, and we went along to see bartenders from all over the country compete to see who’d get to represent New Zealand at the Cocktail World Cup in Queenstown. Two bartenders from Wellington made the cut – Guy Jacobson from Hippopotamus Bar, and  Giancarlo Jesus from the Hawthorn Lounge, along with Barney Toy from Suite Bar, Auckland.

Each bartender had seven minutes to serve up a cocktail and entertain the crowd. You could hear how nervous they were, but the resulting drinks were delicious.  We left before the judging was announced because the Front Room was freeeeeeezing, but it’s always nice to see very skilled people doing good work. We can’t help but wonder though where are the female bartenders? The magnificent Sally from Mighty was in the audience, but there were no women on stage  or in the video from 2010’s competition.  Ahh well, in lieu of females, here are two of the winning cocktail recipes, so you can recreate them at home, or perhaps just bowl along to Hippopotamus or Hawthorn Lounge and order yourself one.

Guy Jacobson – “The Big Bad Wolf”

30 ml 42BELOW Manuka Honey
10 ml 42BELOW Pure
35 ml VSOP Calvados
15 ml ginger extract
7 ml simple syrup
75 ml fresh lapsang shouchong tea

Combine all ingredients in a teapot and serve in tea cups garnished with a twist of lemon, and a toothpick
with an apple fan dehydrated kiwi fruit and blackberry. Shortbread dipped in chocolate biscuits on the side.
Served hot

Giancarlo Jesus – “The Doctor’s Swedish Remedy”

30 ml 42BELOW Manuka Honey
5 ml 42BELOW Pure
5 ml Swedish Punsch
2 drops homemade pine bitters
5 drops whisky barrel aged bitters
20 ml barrel aged Vermouth

Stir, strained with a lemon peel squeezed over the top and discarded.