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Starring rum & tequila cocktail recipes

Australian summer cocktail recipes are evolving. This season has brought on a wave of new cocktail creations characterized by lots of fresh juices and summer fruits. The Australian scene is all about innovation, and summer allows us to use different methods to create refreshing drinks.

Right now, experienced bartenders are simplifying their cocktails and using better ingredients. Three years ago, many cocktails contained seven or more ingredients. This summer, we realized that keeping our ingredients to five or less meant that cocktail service would be faster, cleaner and less confusing for our guests. The idea is to allow better quality products to shine in simpler drinks.

However, craft cocktails aren't just about simplicity and as always, it is bartender expertise that will ensure standards continue to rise. Our best bartenders are using better spirits, thicker syrups (to reduce dilution), fresh juice(s) and seasonal fruit to create winning summer cocktail recipes. To keep things interesting, some bars are experimenting with rapid-infusions, fat-washes, carbonation and house-made sodas to offer different takes on cocktail flavor and texture.

Here's a quick rundown of some of the standout cocktails and recipes this summer:

Brisbane cocktails

The bar scene in Australia’s hottest major city generally favors sweeter drinks.

The Fuego de Cana from The Walrus Club is a twist on the Daiquiri with Amaro, smoky Whisky and grilled lime syrup. The result is fresh and savory with hints of smoke. Olive oil is also used, which adds to the flavor and gives the cocktail an interesting texture.

Recipe highlight: Fuego de Cana, The Walrus Club

METHOD:

To make grilled-lime syrup:

Flame lime halves and extract juice.

Simmer juice and skin in simple syrup.

Combine all ingredients with a cocktail shaker and strain into a coupe glass.

Garnish with 4 additional drops of fennel seed oil.

Sydney cocktails

Moving south, Sydney bartenders tend to use less sugar and more fresh cocktail ingredients. Juicers began appearing in Sydney bars a few years ago, so now a lot of them juice their apples and oranges fresh.

Bulletin Place, which opened in December 2012, creates a new cocktail list every day based on the freshest and best seasonal produce available. The Fig & Agave Sour is served with a huge chunk of ice in a frozen rocks glass, so the drink stays cold and undiluted to the last drop – a small but greatly appreciated detail, especially when seeking a reprieve from the warm summer nights. I wish more bars would do this.

New rooftop bar The Rook is serving the classic Army & Navy with gin, lemon juice, orgeat and Angostura bitters, highlighting the type of cocktail consumers are leaning towards this summer.

Recipe highlight: Fig & Agave Sour, Bulletin Place

Cocktail ingredients

METHOD:

Muddle fig, add all ingredients and combine in a cocktail shaker

Serve over a large ice cube in a frozen glass

Melbourne cocktails

In Melbourne, bartenders and consumers generally prefer more citrus in simple sour cocktails. Summer days here can be both hot and cold, so tropical drinks don't necessarily rule. Negronis and simple sours are popular all year round.

The Black Pearl’s Acca Daccari presents a twist on a Gin and honey sour called The Business, popularized by the legendary Milk & Honey bars in New York and London. This steadfast favorite is fresh, simple and features a perfect balance of quality cocktail ingredients.

Recipe highlight: Acca Daccari, The Black Pearl

METHOD:

Combine in a cocktail shaker and serve up with a lime wedge.

Angus Burton is the Australian runner-up in Diageo World Class 2012 and has won numerous bartending competitions. His passion started with his first bartending gig: blending Ramos Gin Fizzes for friends and family 10 years ago. To Angus, cocktails are the ultimate enjoyment of purity through the realization of experiential theater. Angus writes from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.