Sydney bars embrace food pairing trend

30 March, 2016 by Stefanie Collins

Spirits and food pairing continues to be a massive trend across the industry, particularly as Australia heads into the cooler months.

Tasting menus and masterclasses have been popping up in bars around the country – often quite literally as brief pop-ups inside existing venues – with both Opera Bar and Grain Bar in Sydney the latest to join the fray.

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While Opera Bar’s Meat + Cheese Room has been offering whisky pairings for some time, it will now be offering the Sunset Series of masterclasses, that will see consumers guided through the art of food and spirit matching by industry experts.

Limited to groups of 20, the sessions are a way of engaging customers in what can be a daunting proposition. The first session is hosted by Luke Hanzlicek and covers the “Peated Malts Of Distinction” from Scotland, Ireland and Japan.

Already well-versed in creating an experience for consumers, the Meat + Cheese Room team has developed a specific flavour matrix for its whisky and cheese offering, making it easier to induct customers into the flavours and ideas.

On a slightly different track, Grain bar has created a unique menu that matches premium spirits with house-cured meats, and caviar.

According to the team, the new menu “celebrates the distilling process by serving spirits neat and accentuating their complexities with caviar and subtly-spiced cured meats”.

Tapping into the consumer thirst for premiumisation, the menus sees five pairings, including: top quality Russian vodka and Yasa Elite caviar; tequila with salt and lime-cured kingfish; hand-crafted gin with kangaroo jerky; Venezuelan rum with duck prosciutto; and a single malt whisky with wagyu.

According to Grain bar manager Alexandra Dahlenburg, who created the menu with head chef Jared Reeves, it is a unique way to appreciate some of the world’s finest spirits.

“The idea behind the pairings is to showcase the wonderful work of master distillers and celebrate the time and passion that goes into producing premium spirits,” Dahlenburg says. “Spirits are served in their natural form, as the master distiller intended, providing the opportunity to sip, savour and appreciate the flavours.”

The menu includes tasting notes and each morsel is presented to best display its flavours, for example the caviar is presented on a traditional mother-of-pearl spoon.

The food and spirits matching trend is only set to continue expanding, with consumer interest at an all-time high.