A great bar starts with a top shelf drinks list, a top vibe and atmosphere driven by the clientele with great music, an excellent fit-out and lighting, amazing staff and a premium food menu. Owner-bartender of Dutch Courage Officers’ Mess on Alfred Street, Matthew Hilan has worked from the ground-up to be the master of his own establishment. From investment banking analyst to air combat officer, Matthew decided tending a bar was for him and spent two years around Brisbane perfecting his craft. “Give people great service,” Matthew declares. “Good service is a cliché but you know it when you experience it. Efficient and friendly service is the foundation to hospitality.”
There are a few things to make the perfect drink
- Know what you’re working with – be aware of your ingredients and how they work together.
- Good ice is a necessary component.
- Know your glassware – it makes all the difference to enjoying your drink. A strong straight-up drink works best in a martini glass or a strong drink on the rocks will work best in a double old-fashioned glass.
- Make sure the drink is well garnished. It has to be suitable to the drink, but keep in mind that presentation is everything.
- Every drink should be made with love. You can have all the right ingredients and measurements, but it also needs care.
THE PERFECT IN-SEASON COCKTAIL
The Gin Tonica is Spanish. The Spanish have been leading the world in the service of gin and tonic and it’s a great way of experiencing the botanicals of the gin. As a larger serving, it looks great – especially when the garnish matches. It’s a new taste and smell experience – a sensorial episode.
- 45ml of your favourite Gin
- 90mL tonic
- Matching garnish – depending upon the gin. Dutch courage uses rosemary
- Big, big chunky ice
Build in a tonica glass or goblet – the rounder and bigger it is, the better. You want to get your nose in it when you drink it.
Dutch Courage Officers’ Mess
G/F 51 Alfred Street, Fortitude Valley
07 3852 4838
Photographer: Marc Casolani