THE UGLY DUCKLING - 238 SAWN ST, RICHMOND, MELBOURNE
I love the name of this place, very cool being on Swan St and everything, I dig it. This slick, elegant cocktail bar only opened in September 2015, so really is still in the duckling phase of it's existence, but becoming increasingly more popular.
Situated in a restaurant rich part of Richmond, it acts as a bit of a waiting room for the restaurants around them, offering before dinner drinks to people waiting for their table. Later in the night The Ugly Duckling is a true cocktail bar, offering a wide variety of what are really cutting edge cocktail innovations. They have rosemary smoke infused bourbons, which they smoke fresh right there at the bar in front of you, it was pretty amazing. As well as a Pavlova Fizz, an egg white shaken cocktail that is sprinkled with sugar and blow torched, creating a real meringue top to this truely Australian drink.
Their aesthetic is very fashionable at the moment, black marble bar top, elegant furniture, indoor plants, it's a pretty stunning table service cocktail bar.
Nick and Anitha, the bartenders there were really helpful answering my questions and talking to me about about this new cocktail bar and all it has to offer.
All the questions you want answers to..
House gin : Tanqueray (because it is a solid base gin that works really well in many different styles of cocktail)
Most popular Australian gin: Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin (I am noticing a trend here...)
Most popular gin drink: would be a tie between a Pavlova Fizz and a Black Negroni
Most popular drink in general: all the cocktails are very popular, their cocktail list is seasonal and altered every six months.
Busiest days of the week: Friday & Saturday
Least busy days of the week: Monday (as most of the restaurants around them are not open on Mondays)
If they could make their own gin What would it taste like/what botanicals would they use: very difficult question to answer, it would totally depend on what was available and what style of gin they would be going for.
Usual crowd that congregate at this establishment: probably 20-35 year range, and of that about 80% female, which is very interesting.
GIN COCKTAIL TIME! (Yay!)
I started with the infamous Black Negroni ... This is a very innovative and completely different type of negroni (it may be the most unusual and interesting one I may ever taste!) It is comprised of: Charcoal and Lemon Myrtle infused Tanqueray gin, Averna (an Amaro), and La Quintinye vermouth, loads of ice and a big wedge of grapefruit. Now this was a truely original master piece, and I really liked it, however I wanted to like it far more then I actually did... You see, I am a serious Campari fan, I should be the spokes person for Campari I love it so much, I have converted many Campari haters into Campari lovers through the shear power of persuasion. This negroni (as you may have noticed) uses an Amaro instead of Campari, which of course are very similar in the sense that they are both bitter and sweet and beautiful to drink on their own. I just felt sad that there was no Campari (felt like I was cheating on Campari a little, with this dark mysterious stranger). All in all, (once I got over the lack of Campari) it was a delicious and amazing drink, and I highly recommend it to any and all negroni fans, and I would be very interested to hear what other people think of this original innovation of The Ugly Ducklings, what are your thoughts?. I would rate this a 7/10 for being truely original, even without the Campari!
Luckily enough I had a lovely friend with me, helping me out with the cocktail tastings. She ordered The Last Word, which is comprised of : Tanqueray gin, green chartreuse, Luxador maraschino and fresh lime juice, shaken and garnished with a candied cherry. I had a taste and it was beautiful, a bit sweet, a little spicy (not hot spicy, more like full aromatic kind of spicy) and the lime juice topped it off. I would recommend this to the gin cocktail lover who isn't too sure what drink they want to start with, it pretty much covers all bases (unless you are looking for something savoury... it really isn't that) solid good gin cocktail.
Lastly I had a The Captain's Mistress Martini, which was stunning. West Winds Broadside (navy strength), Lillet blanc, camomile bitters and a drop of absinthe, with a beautiful grapefruit twist. This quite potent martini, tasted anything but. It was subtle and smooth with a bit of citrus, some solid botanicals coming through from the Broadside gin which lend a hint of saltiness. Honestly a wonderful martini, far more delicate and subtle then a lot of martinis, I really enjoyed it. I would rate this an 8.5/10, really great, and would recommend this to all West Winds fans and martini lovers alike, it is possibly one of my favourite martinis by far.
This place is beautiful and fantastic, serving exceptionally creative cocktails, I recommend this to everyone over the age of 18, it's astounding. Favourite cocktail I tried on the night by far would be The Captain's Mistress Martini, it's pretty special. So be sure to check this one out folks!
Stay happy and drink responsibly lovely humans.