I walked off of bustling Brunswick street on a rather ordinary Thursday night into Black Pearl Bar and found myself transported to a world of classic unadulterated elegance. An Establishment of 15 years standing is firmly established as a true classic on the Melbourne Cocktail scene.
(*note* it is in no way Jack Sparrow or Pirate themed... just a heads up!)
The Age old Questions:
House Gin? Tanqueray
Busiest Night of The Week? Every night except Thursdays
Most Popular Gin Cocktails? Would be a toss up between a Gimlet, Negroni and a Copo de Vida
If you could make your own gin, what style/flavour profile would it have? A London Dry Gin that is diverse and useable in as many different drinks as possible.
The Typical Patrons of The Establishment? We are your typical neighbourhood bar with the usual suspects from roughly 25 to 45 years old, who just happen to appreciate creative cocktails.
GIN-TAILS, GIN-TAILS, GIN-TAILS!!!
As per usual I ordered my fav, the Negroni and was graciously directed by the very kind bartender, Mathew, to try a different cocktail along the same lines as a Negroni only a little bit more… French?? A marvelous drink known as a Lucien Gaudin, (which conveniently for me came with a brief history lesson of famous French Olympic fencers.) The Lucien Gaudin consists of: Tanquery gin, Campari, Dry Vermouth and the French contribution from a little Cointreau with a twist of orange. I was very pleasantly surprised, the cocktail had an incredibly citrus orange smell, with the Campari’s sticky bitterness balancing out the orangey sweetness from the Cointreau and the dry vermouth allowing the strong dry notes of the Tanquary to sing throughout. Overall I found this take on the classic Negroni notable for the stronger and more fresh orange citrus kick to it. If you like oranges, and gin, I would recommend you this cocktail, it is well balanced and an absolute treat to drink. I would rate this variation of the “Negroni” as a 7.5/10 for being a bit different and delightfully refreshing.
Onto the Martini. A category of cocktails that are slowly becoming my favorite (sorry Negroni… I am moving on … it’s not me, it’s you!…). I am in love with the dramatic diversity you find between each one you drink, and how there are so many variations and martini possibilities out there, I am just fizzing with excitement to try them all (… on separate occasions of course….)
Once again the gin enthusiast barman Mathew put forward his recommendation, a Tuxedo no.2 (not one I had never had before so, it was kind of a big moment guys).
The Tuxedo no 2 consists of: Plymouth dry gin, dry vermouth, a dash of absinthe, a dash of orange bitters, and Luxardo Maraschino stirred with ice and no garnish (shock horror, a martini without garnish). My expertly stirred Tux no 2 was delicate, dry and floral, and nothing like the standard dry martini you might be use to. It had pungent aniseed note from that really tiny dash of absinthe that although powerful did not totally overpower the crisp dry finish from the Plymouth, which were elegantly complimented by the sweet cherry flavours from the Luxardo. There isn’t much else to say about this martini, other then it is another classic cocktail worth trying if you are a bit of an adventurous martini lover. I would rate this martini as a 6/10 purely because while absinthe is fun and great and all, however I personally find it masks some of those punchy juniper notes that I look for in a Plymouth dry martini.
As is my modus operandi, I conveniently had a wee gin-thusiastic buddy with me (she’s a bit of a newby to the whole gin cocktail scene so I am introducing her to this caper one baby step at a time) who was eager to get her gin drink on!! She chose the Copo de Vida (cup of life for all us non-portuguese speakers out there) and let me have a sip or two.
The Copo de Vida, being one of Black Pearl’s most popular gin cocktails consists of: Tanqueray gin, lime juice, kiwi, yuzo, truffle and egg white, shaken with ice and served in a tall cold glass with a pegged lime leaf.
This cocktail was fresh and fruity and outrageously easy to drink. One of the best demonstrations of how classic dry gins can be used in fruity shaken drinks that aren’t citrus dominated. I really enjoyed tasting this cocktail and believe that it was a good choice for my gin-tail novice friend, as it was light and easy enough to drink while still having the juniper hit of the gin coming through.
Of the three cocktails I tried at Black Pearl bar in Fitzroy I would have to say my favourite of them all would have to be the French Negroni, even though I am on a bit of a Martini craze lately. Thanks to bartender Mathew and Lucien Gaudin for introducing me to a very fresh orange tasting Negroni style drink, it is the freshness of the Negroni that gave it the extra winning points over the Martini this time.
I absolutely loved my evening at Black Pearl, it is exactly what you expect a cocktail bar to be, low lit and table service from incredibly knowledgeable and talented barmen. I would recommended Black Pearl to anyone, if you are not a local already it is really worth the trip. I am sure you will have a great time there!