Mathew Hewitt: Summer Drinking

The Gresham continues the narrative of this late 18th century Queensland establishment featuring an old school whiskey and bourbon bar fit-out that caters to every thirsty whim. From its central perch in the old NAB Bank, The Gresham pays respect to a golden Queensland era, posing as an esteemed tribute to our heritage. It’s all about old fashioned hospitality with stylish poise. And from the depths of this heritage-listed bar comes General Manager Mathew Hewitt.  

Great bartenders are born, not manufactured. The Gresham Mathew Hewitt stands out as one of the greatest bartenders in Brisbane, with notorious attention to detail. Clearly, this meticulous nature goes back to his days in the army, but it is fifteen years of dedication that sees Matt ruling the bar scene. Since his days as glassy at the Press Club, Matt has worked through a host of premium bars while accumulating a barrel of awards along the way – including The Gresham team taking out New Bar of The Year for the 2014 Australian Bar Awards. ”I fell in love with the space when I first saw it,” he recalls. “It’s the style of bar I’ve always wanted to open; one that has a classic feel with a modern twist.” Matt’s ethos to tending a bar is straightforward, where The Gresham delivers on basic bar culture without dictating to customers. “Simple tasty drinks always work over complicated ones. Less is more,” Mathew proclaims. “So keep it simple.”

MATHEW’S TIPS FOR MAKING GREAT DRINKS

When making a new drink from a recipe, measure accurately, then balance to taste.
Always use fresh ingredients where possible and chill your glassware. Your drink will taste better ice cold and made using fresh pressed juices. 
Try to use quality alcohol.
For a tart-sour style of drink, pop 5-10mL more citrus juice in than sweetener.
Put a few key flavours together and expand but no more than 5-6 base ingredients.
Have fun and experiment! 

MATT’S PERFECT BBQ COCKTAIL

 Taking inspiration from The Michelada, a Mexican cocktail that livens up beer by combining it with Tabasco and other spicy sauces, this drink is great for a BBQ and is also said to be a great hangover remedy.

1 dashSalt and Black Pepper
3-4 dashesTabasco or Habanero Sauce
3-4 dashesWorcestershire Sauce
3-4 dashesSoy Sauce
30mLBuffalo Trace Bourbon
1/2Lime (juiced)
1Bottle of beer. (Make it a nice one.)

Build in chilled beer glass to taste, garnish with a celery stick.

Optional Extras
salt rim and/or 60mL Tomato/Caesars Clamato Juice

 MATT’S PERFECT BEACH COCKTAIL

The Sunnyboy has been on the list at The Gresham since opening last year, and I initially made the drink to represent Queensland and tie in with the heritage nature of the bar.

45mLButter and Coconut Fat Washed Vodka (see the recipe below)
1/2Passionfruit (just the pulp)
20mLVanilla Sugar
50mLPineapple Juice

Butter and Coconut Fat Washed Vodka
Add 100g of un-salted butter, and 250g of Pure Coconut Oil to a pan over low heat (similar to Beurre Noisette or Burnt Butter) until the better turns golden brown.
Take off heat and cool slightly, add 700mL Vodka and mix thoroughly, pour into plastic T/A containers and freeze overnight.
The next day remove from freezer and strain off Vodka.

Optional
Great as a blended drink, just add all ingredients with 1/2 scoop of crushed ice and blend. Build all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with cubed ice, and shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a sugar/coconut rim. 

MATT’S PERFECT CELEBRATION COCKTAIL

This is a twist on old favourite The Aperol Spritz, The Watermelon Shrubery uses all the components of the original and while adding a few of its own. The great thing about this drink is it can be done in a large format.

50mLAperol
10mLBurnt Orange and Vanilla Bean Syrup by “The Simple Syrup Co
60mLWatermelon Shrub (see the recipe below)
90mLProsecco
60mLSoda Water
8-10Mint Leaves

Watermelon Shrub
To make the Watermelon Shrub, the basic rule is equal parts fruit : sugar : apple cider vinegar.
1/2 Watermelon macerated and strained, then add 100g sugar and stir to dissolve.
Add 250mL of Apple Cider vinegar and leave overnight in the fridge.
Taste and adjust sweet and bitter. The flavour in the palate should be as follows: watermelon, sweetness, acid.  

MATT’S PERFECT MOCKTAIL

The Shrub ‘n’ Soda is the Teetotaler version of The Watermelon Shrubery, with the shrub acting like a cordial that is light, crisp and very summery. The shrub lasts for months, so it can be enjoyed when watermelons are out of season.

90mLWatermelon Shrub
15mL Burnt Orange and Vanilla Bean Syrup by “The Simple Syrup Co
8-10Mint Leaves

Build in a large wine glass with cubed ice. Garnish with seasonal fruit and mint sprigs.

Photo Credits: Tash Sorenson 

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