Imagine a city of 25 million people. Yeup that's the population of the whole of Australia in one buzzing place. It's the population of Guangzhou (China) that the famous bar Hope & Sesame services, with two sell-out shifts each night.
Back here in Sydney, cocktail aficionados had the chance today to check out the superlative Hope & Sesame drinks when owners/bar-tenders Andrew Ho and Bastien Ciocca were in town to showcase their wares. These lads first met in Swiss hotel management school, then went their separate hotel ways before the drinks won bringing them back together to start Hope & Sesame.
Mode Kitchen & Bar x Hope & Sesame Collaboration saw the sensational matching of native flavours food and beverage in the most contemporary expressions. Seemingly simple, the cocktails were light yet complex in flavour, embodying many varied new techniques. Tomato water brought clear summer intensity to the Garden Highball: Chivas 12 years Whisky, Seedlip Garden 108, Tomato & Basil Soda. Andrew and Bastien chose this to match the first of the Mode courses, Raw of Yamba king prawns green, tomatoes & muntires berries.
Do you know what clarified pineapple is? It's a key to the cocktail that is simply named: Pineapple. A refreshing Asian inspiration taking Flor da Cana Coconut and house made Chai Liqueur, the clarified pineapple with lemon juice and basil. Underlying these are spices including star anise. Pineapple matched Mode food of Wood-roasted Moreton Bay bug, kelp and karkalla. And it's probably the finest example of this seafood that I've tried. Perfectly just cooked. Offered in the half shells. Succulently supreme.
Richly interesting was the main course, with what could be described as a main cocktail. Mezcal matches individually together the beetroot and the raspberry of the cocktail. And each of these match the kangaroo hero in the dish. The lowlands mezcal is earthy but not dominantly smoky. What a totally amazing combination all of the components bring. Tasmanian pepper crust Kangaroo loin & wilted Warrigal greens matched with the drink Beets. Yet for this drink with Flor de Cana 4 years, and Del Maguey Vida, Beets & Raspberry, Lime the visual impact added to the performance. The ice covered in cocoa butter and coconut oil, was not only visually stunning but the coating also stops the ice melting diluting the drink. Amazing!
And for dessert? When the menu displays a cocktail called Spicy Not Spicy, the question is - well is it, or isn't it? The Sanya Yellow Chilli invoked Flor de Cana 4 years has a little heat when sipped separately. But when it comes together with the tart Passionfruit, Lemon, and Egg White it is tempered just enough to keep its fiery emotions on the back burner. Spicy Not Spicy accompanied a rustic Applebush, white chocolate & macadamia crumble.
Sitting up close and personal at the bar gave an intimate view of the cocktail making. Key cocktail learning of the day is the nitrogen muddle. We love a good muddle on any given instance, but with the nitrogen constriction intensifying flavour before the release, this is one molecular method that gets our seal of approval.
During their sprint through Sydney, Hope & Sesame took over Grain Bar tonight, are at This Must Be The Place tomorrow Wednesday, then Andrew and Bastien split on Thursday to cover two joints, The Roosevelt and Assembly Bar.
Enough of today and the visitor accolades. We are so lucky right here. Any day of the year. Applause for Mode Kitchen & Bar Chef Francesco Mannelli and Grain Bar Head Roderick Boerma each lusciously experienced yet continuing to grow and step up into their best own.
Mode Kitchen & Bar is a discreet modern ground floor venue of excellence in the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, 199 George Street. Co-located across the lobby the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney also houses the luxury Grain Bar.