5 January 2024

Take 3: Favourite summer cocktails of Canberra's expert mixologists

| Morgan Kenyon
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Josh Miller shaking a cocktail shaker behind the bar at Leyla

Far from simple, there’s a definite art to creating a perfectly balanced cocktail. Photo: Pew Pew Studio.

A refreshing cocktail is the perfect way to cool down after a hot summer’s day, especially when it’s prepared by one of Canberra’s many talented mixologists.

But for those looking to stray from traditional favourites like the margarita, martini and mojito, making a choice can be a little daunting. Should it be sweet, sour or bitter? Floral, tart or boozy?

Whether you plan to order something new on a night out or try your hand at mixing yourself, these unique summer cocktails made it onto the favourites list of three local bartenders.

Jazz Gala cocktail with apple fan

Josh Miller, one of Leyla Bar’s resident mixologists, says a well-made Jazz Gala is ‘like a summer garden in a glass’. Photo: Leyla Bar.

The Jazz Gala

Made with:

  • 5o ml Hendrix Midsummer Solstice gin
  • 20 ml elderflower liqueur
  • 10 ml apple liqueur
  • 45 ml apple juice
  • 2o ml cranberry juice
  • 20 ml lemon juice
  • green apple fan to garnish.

Where to order: Leyla Rooftop Bar, 1 Burbury Close, Barton.

This favourite comes in the form of a ‘Jazz Gala’. Fresh and light, Josh Miller from Leyla Bar in Barton enjoys the perfect balance of gentle and sharp flavours.

“Once you collect all the ingredients, a Jazz Gala is simple to make. Just combine in a shaker, add ice and double strain into a cocktail glass,” he says.

“The fruity elderflower, tart cranberry and floral Midsummer Solstice gin are rounded out beautifully by the sweetness of apple.”

Last word cocktail

The Last Word is the cocktail of choice for Riley, the long-time bartender at Highball. Photo: Alex9500.

The Last Word

Made with:

  • 20 ml full-strength gin of choice
  • 20 ml luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 20 ml green chartreuse
  • 20 ml lemon juice
  • cherry or lime wedge to garnish.

Where to order: Highball, 77 London Circuit, Canberra City.

A cocktail with a history, the Last Word has been around since the 1920s. The Prohibition-era drink has a reputation for knocking patrons’ socks off – with good reason.

Made with equal parts gin, luxardo and chartreuse, it’s an elegant drink that packs an alcoholic punch often masked by rich herbal flavours.

Rather than its strength, the exclusive nature of a Last Word is what attracts Highball bartender Riley.

“Green chartreuse is very hard to come by,” he says.

“It’s made only by monks of the Grande Chartreuse monastery in France, who keep the recipe a secret and only produce it in small amounts.”

two glasses of aperol spritz with orange garnish

It’s hard to go wrong with this Canberra staple, the Aperol Spritz. Photo: LightField Studios.

Aperol Spritz

Made with:

  • 60 ml Aperol
  • 90 ml prosecco
  • 30 ml soda water
  • orange half wheel to garnish.

Where to order: The Jetty, Queen Elizabeth Terrace, Parkes.

A simple cocktail with its origins in 1920s Venice, the Aperol Spritz starts zesty and tart before rounding into a more herbal flavour. It’s the favourite of Dean Ratsch, co-owner and mixologist at The Jetty.

“This is a quick and easy cocktail that always refreshes and delights,” Dean says.

“Combine one part soda water with two parts Aperol and three parts prosecco, then serve with generous ice. I like to garnish with orange to complement its bitter-sweetness.”

To find out more or discover your next favourite sip, check out Leyla Bar, Highball and The Jetty.

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