August 1, 2018
Zanzibar, the ole faithful Newtown institution and after hour haunt, was a reliable drinking hall that had its doors wide open for the remnants of late nights. Its site has been taken over by Webster’s Bar, an operation that not only spruced it up a notch but also endeavoured to pay homage to the narrative and historic context of what was initially established by John and Eliza Webster as The Newtown Store, which gave birth to how the suburb was eventually named.
Comprised of three levels, with the sophisticated prohibition style speakeasy themed bar and grill being the focus of tonight’s Boilermaker Dinner extravaganza, the top floor proffers views across busy King Street from the coveted astroturfed rooftop backyard bar and the ground level being an industrial, exposed brick, steampunk-esque saloon of sorts, Webster’s Bar appeal is the focus on bourbons and an eclectic selection of quality whiskies, including drops that are extremely hard to spot in regular bars.
The Glenmorangie Whisky / Modus Operandi Beer Boilermaker Dinner the middle floor with its low lighting, a working fireplace, arched stained glass windows and an array of secluded corners, proved to be a most suitable setting for what was about to ensue: A cuisine under the helm of Executive Chef Mark Cukeric that is dedicated to mainlining produce from terra australis, complemented by a melange of four rare expressions (and one of the core range) of Scotland Highlands Glenmorangie Distillery’s never not intriguing whiskies as well as three of the core range and two limited release beers from Sydney’s boutique Modus Operandi brewery.
Hosted by a tandem of the Spirits Ambassador for Moët Hennessy, Garth Forster, who took the guests of the evening through a guided tour through the history of the Glenmorangie Distillery and its unique distillation process, and a representative of accolade decorated Modus Operandi entertaining the sold out audience with the stories behind the inception of what materialized in our beer glasses over the evening.
The liquid emissions were not only matched with each other but rested on a foundation of a curated three coursed dinner, the cooking process of each course of which was infused with both the beer and the whisky.
Winners of the evening on the beer front were:
Modus Operand limited Former Tenant Red IPA: Describing it as “hoppy” would be an understatement par excellence – it is more than an apt homage to the ganja grower who inhabitated their site before the brewery was established, the fact that it is topped off with a caramel sweetness does not hurt either.
The Sonic Prayer IPA, a liquid tribute to the first album of psychedelic band Earthless: A delicious, citrusy and fruity melange of English and German malts resting on a bed of American and Kiwi hops. Let us not forget the always reliable MODUS Pale Ale and while the darker stouty brews received much praise on our table, they seemed a bit heavy especially as they were positioned towards the end of the evening. I personally find IPAs to be the perfect beer for a Boilermaker liaison.
I have been known for finding it hard to refuse a dram of their voluptuous Quinta Ruban Cask and dessert-like Nectar d’Or, but tonight’s offerings easily blew them out of the water:
Allow me to linger on two standouts:
A limited Glenmorangie release, matured in classic bourbon and Amontillado casks giving it a palate reminiscent of caramel and nuts based on a fruity, softly spiced nose and framed with a peaty depth. Gimme peat and I am in. Delicious.
The highlight of the night was strategically placed at the end of the night: Glenmorangie’s Signet.
Explosions of spice.
Sherry-esque and hints of bitterness.
What might sound oxymoronic and mutually exclusive are the contrasts that don’t clash but form the fusion of deliciousness that Signet masters.
While the Signet was the cherry on top of a great evening, it was amplified by the main course that preceded it: Overnight Dornoch Whisky cured braised beef cheeks with Dijon whipped potatoes, spiced beetroot puree, fried Brussel sprouts and hazelnut butter. Without trying too hard, the symphonies on a plate not only accentuated the drinks of the evening but the nuances of hearty and more subtle flavours was a thing of beauty that crowned an expertly curated evening at one of Sydney’s most promising newer venues.
Apart from regular special events not unlike the one we had the pleasure of visiting, peeping Webster’s Bar for its Whisky Wednesdays, where you get twenty percent off and can zero in on those rare drops you’ve always wanted to try, should be on anyone’s radar who is remotely into quality spirits - one of which is Webster’s own limited edition collaboration with Woodford Reserve that can only be obtained within the confines of their bar.
Photos by @k.a. vv
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