A nice man called Igor arrived at my house in a fancy black town car last night. He chauffeured me to a place called Spice Alley so I could drink complimentary Johnnie Walker highballs paired with delicious Asian food.
A few hours later, he texted to say he was waiting outside to whisk me home again. I felt so fancy. It’s a hard life being a booze writer.
Johnnie Walker is partnering with Asian dining precinct Spice Alley, in Chippendale, to offer a unique highball experience to Sydneysiders during May. I was invited along with a group of lifestyle journalists to put it to the test.
The whisky brand is hosting the month-long residency within the popular hawker centre to enable diners the chance to discover how Johnnie Highballs pair with Asian food.
Here’s my verdict: they pair very nicely indeed.
Diageo Whisky Ambassador Katie Nagar (above) created two delicious cocktails for us: Johnnie & Green Tea Highball with Johnnie Walker Black Label, green tea cordial and Fever-Tree Soda Water; and Johnnie & Lychee Ginger Highball with Johnnie Walker Black Label, lychee and Fever-Tree Ginger Ale.
My favourite was the Johnnie & Green Tea Highball, it had a lovely gentle flavour that wasn’t overwhelmed by the whisky.
An entertaining bloke called “Big” Sam Young, who used to be head chef at the Merivale restaurant Lotus had chosen some yummy dishes from Spice Alley for us to pair with our cocktails: takoyaki octopus balls, char kway teow, spring rolls and har gow dumplings.
He added a luxurious surprise to each dish. He shaved fresh truffle over the octopus balls, scattered freshly picked spanner crab over the noodles and sprinkled Siberian caviar over the dumplings. Blimey! Caviar with dumplings … who’d have thought of that? And it was the first time I’d ever tried fresh truffle, which looks a bit scary but tasted delicious with the fried octopus goodness. Char kway teow is my all-time favourite dish and Sam gave me his secret tip for the best place to eat it in Sydney. Nom!
At the last minute I was told I could bring someone along to the event, which was a bit of a mad scramble as most of my friends don’t drink. None of my booze loving mates were available, so I texted my Saturday walking friend Emily, who is a very, very light drinker (my other Saturday walking friend Fee fears she might be allergic to alcohol, so I left her in peace) and she was happy to come and have a couple of sips to keep me company.
We had a lovely night together.
Confession: I was a bit gutted a few days earlier to turn down free tickets on the SAME NIGHT to James Reyne at The Enmore Hotel that were offered to me by Coopers, celebrating him being the face of their new Australian Pale Ale. Dammit, what are the odds of that?
I’ve discovered late in life that I absolutely love James Reyne. Would never have picked that in my 20s. So it was very hard to say no to those tix. Poor me and my first-world problems. But I feel that once you’ve committed to something, you need to follow through. And Spice Alley did not disappoint.
That said, I’m not sure how I feel about attending events in the Eastern Suburbs at the moment, what with the rogue COVID case. The gentleman in question had been shopping for a new barbecue all over Sydney by the looks of the contact tracing, with a visit to a butcher shop at the end for good measure, which I presume means his expedition was successful. I’m sure his barbie will come in very handy over the next few weeks in quarantine.
I hate to think what my contact tracing list would look like. You’d feel so naked and exposed having your movements publicised all over the media like that. Necessary as it is.
I do not look forward to seeing how hysterical the other states get about it all. Fingers crossed it’s an essentially non-spreading event like the other recent cases have been. I will be following the story with keen interest because it’s a mysterious one.
Song of the day: Men at Work “Be good Johnny”