Never Never Distilling Co. has been on my radar for quite some time.
Upon finally experiencing the emissions of the distillery that was founded by three blokes with a blatant disregard for any obstacles that might be thrown their way, I can attest that the fearless spirit they produce lives up to its premise.
Channelling their alchemy within the confines of a small brewing facility, their juniper forward hooch is based on partially steeped ways of treating the main ingredient that capture both the bright and the earthy qualities of the world’s smallest conifer, which rests on a carefully curated bouquet of botanicals complimenting the character of the juniper, e.g. the citrussy Australian coriander, pepper berry for a more rounded savoury experience and a hint of cinnamon to give it some warmth. Clocking in at 43% ABV, the clean profile is accentuated with a big of a punch that will find itself in good company no matter if it is the heart piece of a negroni or a martini.
With the myriad of gin distilleries popping up like mushrooms and crowding the market with trying to compete in terms of innovation and modern interpretations, Never Never deliberately takes a step back and honours traditional ideas and methods by adding more juniper to their gin than any other gin on the market, which results in a big, viscous spirit with a strong, balanced flavour, rich mouthfeel and a lengthy finish which is accentuated by a simple lemon to work its magic.
Now, while Never Never Distillery’s gin expressions by themselves might be a thing of beauty, proffering them in form of curated cocktails within the context of what is the sophisticated and inviting Crown Street's all-day authentic Italian diner Caffe Bartolo, not only adds another dimension but with the collaboration seeing the restaurant collaborate by matching the liquid emissions with a four-course food betrothal courtesy of Bartolo's head chef Teofilo Nobrega (known from Fratelli Paradiso) and the gin based drinks being given an additional edge via the creative input of Grazia di Franco, it elevated all aspects to the next level:
A Snap(per) Chat (Triple Juniper gin with tomato and carrot juice) was married to a citrus-cured snapper and pickled celery heart in a Bloody Mary sauce – a holy matrimony that was topped by Bartolo's Martini (Never Never’s Southern Strength Gin, vermouth and Sicilian wine) paired with pepperoncino-stuffed swordfish involtini.
The four courses culminated with a dessert that was started with the Bitter Freak (Juniper Freak Gin, vermouth, coffee and amaro) and an elongated finish that tickled the taste buds with an amaro and juniper berry-infused fried custard topped with fior di latte gelato and burnt oranges.
I have been to quite a few drink and food pairings and while most of the time it is an enjoyable affair, this one stood out not just because of the high-quality ingredients the total of which was something bigger than the mere adding of the individual constituents would suggest. It was the hospitality that added the “je ne sais quoi” factor with all operators seamlessly and expertly going about their business with both dedication and an omnipresent smile that reverberated on to the audience.
The attention to detail with which Caffe Bartolo is outfitted, e.g. the carefully curated photos that adorn the walls, the geschmaecklerische and quirky drink utensils ready for usage on the delicate marble bar, dark wood venetian blinds and floral wallpaper covering the bathroom walls, results in a magnetic pull that anyone with a sense of taste and appreciation for fine details would find hard to resist.
Photos by @k.a.vv
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