Drinks with Al: Bad Loves & good cocktails

We are living in such uncertain times. I have a friend on holidays in Western Australia who just went into a three-day lockdown. She wisely stocked up at Peel Estates Wines and Whitelakes Brewing before heading to the supermarket for toilet paper supplies.


Fingers crossed the WA Government gets the situation under control fast.

It reinforces how lucky DD and I were to see the Bad Loves play at Lizotte’s on Thursday night. Live music is a very precious thing to have back in our lives. Lizotte’s is supper club-style venue in the old King’s Theatre in Lambton, owned by Brian Lizotte, who is the brother of Johnny Diesel. The art deco theatre only has 200 seats, so there literally isn’t a bad one in the house. We talked our friends Darren and Kirsten into joining us and hooned up the highway so we could enjoy dinner together at the venue before the show.

I sipped a glass of French rose while we listened to the support act, King Canyon. The lead singer, Jimmy Cupples, is the cousin of a bloke you might remember if you’re my vintage: Peter Cupples, who had The Peter Cupples Band and Stylus. Jimmy has THE most incredible voice, so powerful and soaring. I was blown away by it and I’m not surprised to hear he was a finalist on The Voice.

The Bad Loves are on tour to celebrate the re-issue of their album, Get On Board, first released in July 1993. The album spent a massive 69 weeks in the charts, peaked at number five and went on to achieve double platinum sales; delivering four hit singles: LostMemphisI Remember and Green Limousine. It was a great gig, filled with joyous energy.

I was a bit weary and heartburny though, from all the deep-fried goodness I’d inhaled the previous night, after going to three bars as part of the YCK Laneway Block Party, which is giving Sydney’s CBD night life a much-needed boost via a program of 75 cultural events across 15 venues. I visited The Barber Shop, Stitch Bar and The Lobo with my friend Sue. We drank a fabulous array of margaritas and Palomas and gin-filled delights.

The venues and drinks were all fabulous, but The Lobo really blew me away. It’s just been named one of the best 21 bars in Sydney by GQ magazine. The mag describes it as: “Sydney’s most passionate dedicated rum bar, the Lobo boasts more than 250 rums served in an intimate, Caribbean-inspired underground dive bar. You should probably be trying more rum anyway.”

I was invited to the event by Bombay Sapphire and Patrón Tequila and I had an awesome time chatting to the brand ambassadors over cocktails and tacos. You can read more about the night by clicking here.

While I was cocktail sipping, DD was at a virtual whisky tasting for That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s Australian series. He sampled the line-up of eight new expressions, which is the brand’s first full range of whiskies from Australia. His favourite was the Starward 3 year old.

He notes over at Drinks Digest that we “first met Starward’s founder David Vitale at a special launch a few years ago on QEII and enjoyed his passion and drive. The distiller had strapped a cask of its whisky on the deck of QEII for a year and compared it to one left in Melbourne. It was one of my favourites on the night, with great caramel, rum and raisin notes.”

Here’s a flashback pic from that event (click here to read more about it):

And click here to read his full story about the latest tasting.

In other drinks news … the morning after the Bad Loves I woke up far too early and dropped a couple of low-alcohol beers onto the doorstep of my beer reviewer, St Barbara, to try. Then DD and I had a quick, yummy brekkie at Mockingbird – Pork Benedict with poached eggs, potato hash, chipotle hollandaise and sourdough – before visiting my parents with a passionfruit buttercake from the Sweet Poison cake shop to celebrate mum’s birthday – then we raced back home so I could pick the youngest up from school and drop her to her very first shift at Baker’s Delight and DD could attend his son’s graduation, where there was a rather tempting Verve stand.

Next week is shaping up to be another biggie. The unfortunate lockdown in WA comes just as the drinks industry is getting back on its feet. The invitations to events are beginning to trickle into my inbox again and there are two other cocktail festivals launching to accompany the YCK Laneway Block Party.

The World Class Cocktail Festival kicks off on Tuesday night with three of the country’s hottest bartenders fighting it out to be crowned Australian World Class Bartender of the Year. They are: Evan Stroeve (RE, Sydney), Kayla Saito (Leonardo’s Pizza Palace, Melbourne) and David Aznar (Rosella’s, Gold Coast).

The festival itself runs from April 28 with five days of bespoke cocktails, live entertainment, pop-up events, immersive brand experiences and dining collaborations, all championing the best of Sydney’s diverse bar scene.

Seven of the World’s 100 Best Bars are in Australia and they’re all taking part in the World Class Cocktail Festival line-up. Click here to read more.

Then Australian Cocktail Month kicks off on May 1. The celebration of cocktails will be held across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide and is partnering with some of the best local and international alcohol brands to champion the country’s bar industry.

Consumers will unlock unique bar experiences and enjoy delicious cocktails with the Australian Cocktail Month ticket. The $20 ticket allows guests access to a special menu of cocktails created exclusively for the month. The menu will be available at participating venues, with cocktails priced at $14, and non-alcoholic options at $10.

Click here to read more.

Cheers to the weekend! Mine will involve taking it very easy to recover from all the movement and excitement of last week as I gird my loins for the next round.

Song of the day: The Bad Loves “Lost”


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