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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 characterised 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 realised 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 flavour and texture.

Here's a quick rundown of some of the stand-out cocktails and recipes this summer:

Brisbane cocktails

The bar scene in Australia’s hottest major city generally favours 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 savoury with hints of smoke. Olive oil is also used, which adds to the flavour and gives the cocktail an interesting texture.

Recipe highlight: Fuego de Cana, The Walrus Club

Cocktail ingredients

50ml Pampero Blanco

10ml Talisker whisky

10ml Averna

20ml Lime

20ml Grilled lime syrup (flame lime-halves > extract juice > simmer juice and skin in a simple sugar syrup)

Barspoon of fennel-seed-infused olive oil


  • 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

    50ml Jose Cuervo Traditionale

    20ml Lemon juice (squeezed to order)

    20ml Cold-process sugar syrup

    1 dash of organic free range egg white

    1 small ripe fig


  • 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, popularised by the legendary Milk & Honey bars in New York and London. This steadfast favourite is fresh, simple and features a perfect balance of quality cocktail ingredients.

    Recipe highlight: Acca Daccari, The Black Pearl

    Cocktail ingredients

    50ml Bundaberg 5 White Rum

    25ml Lime juice

    25ml Honey syrup (2 parts honey: 1 part simple syrup)


  • 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 realisation of experiential theatre. Angus writes from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.