438 Church Street, Richmond (map)
The Melbourne food nerd in me just about died of happiness when I opened the brand new 2010 Spring Collection cocktail menu at Der Raum on Monday night and saw that they're currently serving a cocktail named after Attica wunderchef (and recent recipient of The Age Good Food Guide 2011 Chef of the Year award) Ben Shewry.
It's made with chilled umeshu, absinthe and fresh basil, which is fed into a bulbous beaker glass containing a thick stick of ice. The beaker is itself placed inside a big gobstopper jar containing rosemary and star anise which, having been attacked by a handy blowtorch, are charred and smoking.
The jar is then closed and the contents of the jar are given a few moments to smoke the contents of the beaker, in a method that echoes Shewry's famous dish of smoked trout broth with crackling, basil seeds and fresh smoke.
And the taste? I'm not usually much of a fan of aniseed flavours, but I just loved it tempered with the sweet plum from the umeshu and the freshness of the basil. And loved that hint of smoke characters too!
A few guys and gals from the Attica team were in on Monday night, to taste the cocktail.
My cocktail companion, the lovely H, chose a different cocktail called Sausage Fingers. It contained CHIPOTLE AND MANGO TEQUILA, pressed lemon and agave, and tasted smoky and fresh and sweet and spicy all at once. Der Raum cocktails are not cheap (these two were $22 each) but boy oh boy do we love them.
It was a Monday night and we'd promised each other we'd stop at one cocktail. But I'm keen as mustard to get back there ASAP to try the Midnight in Sicily: Averna, Campari, blood orange and Strega mist. Be still my beating heart!