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Connect the Gram - Mike aka MMYdrinks

Next up on Connect the Gram, we travel to the US of A to meet a man who you should all know if you're serious about drinkstagramming. One of the nicest, most generous guys we know, Mike of @mmydrinks is also the man behind the campaigns known as the #WeHavetheLast Word, and #AmaroWeek, which incidentally is starting this week (21 - 27 August 2017), both of which encourage cocktail enthusiasts around the globe to post a cocktail to Instagram that fits the theme. A cocktail enthusiast and home bartender, Mike was motivated by nothing more than trying to bring people together through the power of the cocktail in coming up with these campaigns (read about the Last Word campaign here). Earlier this year, Mike also started #friendshipfridays where he features an Instagram account each week that you should be following, in order to help them grow (see what we mean by nice guy???). But MIke isn't all fluff and no substance - his account constantly features concoctions he's made himself that are creative not just in their composition, but in the captions. 

With all of that, we felt it's about time we turned the spotlight on the man himself and give you all a few more reasons why you should be following this guy, if you aren't already. We promise you will be entertained.

Hellooooo Mike!

Hellooooo Mike!

What's your IG handle and tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Mike Yoshioka and my IG account is @mmydrinks. (that's not a typo, it's actually my initials!) I was born and raised in Los Angeles but my parents are both from Hiroshima, Japan. I met my wife while visiting friends in San Francisco and we both live in LA now. Aside from cocktails, my other interest is sports; I love watching and attending sporting events. I could almost watch any type of sport on TV.

Do you remember how your interest in cocktails started?

My interest in cocktails began when my friend from San Francisco would always text me pictures of the cocktails she was having at different bars. This was when the craft cocktail scene was starting to take off. Curious about all the fuss, my wife and I went to a local bar in LA specializing in craft cocktails to see what is was all about. We were instantly hooked. The recipe, the ingredients, the presentation - we loved everything about it. I wanted to learn more about cocktail and what inspired the bartenders to create their recipes. I started hanging out at my local bar more often. Going there right when it opened for the evening so I could chat with the bartenders. I've learn so much about spirits, technique and recipes by doing this. For anyone wanting to learn more about cocktails I think this is a great way to do so. Get to your local bar early before the crowds show up. Chat with the bartenders. They're more than willing to talk about their craft. Once I learned more about cocktails, my wife encouraged me to to try to make cocktails at home. I knew my technique improved when my wife didn't make a sour face when I handed her a drink!

Can we marry you too Mike? Here, Mike practises his cocktail making skills for his wife's get together with her girlfriends, with his variations on the theme "Ladies Night" from left to right, Pink Lady, White Lady, Green Lady and Perfect Lady. Way to go making four egg white cocktails and getting them to look like this!

Can we marry you too Mike? Here, Mike practises his cocktail making skills for his wife's get together with her girlfriends, with his variations on the theme "Ladies Night" from left to right, Pink Lady, White Lady, Green Lady and Perfect Lady. Way to go making four egg white cocktails and getting them to look like this!

When did you start your Instagram account and what was the motivation for it?

I started my account in 2014. I really did it to keep track of the cocktails I had while out. When I started to make my own cocktails at home my wife encouraged me to post some of my own cocktails. I didn't really think anyone would be interested in seeing my own cocktails. But soon I got a like. Then a comment. That gave me more confidence to post my own cocktails. Now it has evolved to the point where i mostly post my own cocktails. Through Instagram I have been able to make friends throughout the world. We've been able to participate in many fun campaigns together. Some of them I consider my really good friends even though I've never met most of them.

How often do you post and do you have a process for deciding what to make/feature on each post? Take us through your thought process when it comes to coming up with a cocktail for your posts – we’d love to know what goes on in that crazy brain of yours!

I've been doing this for 3 years now and I definitely can say I don't post as often as I used to. In the beginning, I and many others are very eager to post every day. But soon, you'll realize it's very difficult to post every day. I say for newbies to pace yourself. You don't need to post every day. My postings varies these days. Sometimes once or twice a week. Other times it'll be 2-3 times a week. For my inspiration I  really like going to the market and seeing what fresh fruits and vegetables are in season. I could spend hours there just looking at everything! Other times I will see a food dish and think that would make an interesting cocktail. I then would try to see if I can translate that dish into a cocktail. Sometimes it works and other times it's an epic failure. Some are just meant to be a food dish.

One of the themes Mike started, #twofortuesday where he creates two variation on one cocktail. Left to right, the Old Pal classic cocktail (rye whiskey, vermouth and Campari and lemon twist) and its variation, the New Friends (Rye, Aperol, Cocchi Americano and orange twist). 

One of the themes Mike started, #twofortuesday where he creates two variation on one cocktail. Left to right, the Old Pal classic cocktail (rye whiskey, vermouth and Campari and lemon twist) and its variation, the New Friends (Rye, Aperol, Cocchi Americano and orange twist). 

What has been the weirdest/strangest cocktail you’ve made or drank, where you thought on paper, all the ingredients wouldn’t mix together well, or it used a particularly insane ingredient? 

I've done a few crazy ingredient cocktails in the past. I had a cocktail made with avocado at a restaurant once. I was able to find the recipe and make it at home. Another cocktail was based on prosciutto and melon. I like eating prosciutto and melon so I decided to make a cocktail based on that dish. I fat washed some gin with prosciutto and created a cantaloupe syrup, then added egg white to give it some creaminess and finally I topped it with some aged balsamic drops. The garnish was a prosciutto wrapped melon ball. For Cinco De Mayo, I made a cocktail I called "Salsa". It had jalapeno infused mezcal, garlic and red onion infused tequila and clarified tomato water among other things. Surprisingly all of these cocktails worked out. There was also one that had kale and kombu and one based on miso soup. I even did a tobacco infused cocktail. These are just a few of the strangest cocktails I've made. 

Introduce us to the greatest cocktail ingredient you think there is and tell us why you think everyone should be using it

Well, I've really been into amari lately. I think it is a fabulous spirit to work with. Everyone should get a nice of collection of amari. I also think everyone should get into shrubs. It's a fantastic ingredient to add to cocktails but also for mocktails. There are endless flavours you can create with shrubs. 

Is that why you decided to start Amaro Week?

Yes, in a way. After the We Have the Last Word campaign ended, I was asked by numerous people when the next event would be. About this time, Negroni Week was just round the corner so I thought why doesn't anyone have an Amaro Week? (Ed note: Two of the key ingredients in the Negroni, i.e. Campari and vermouth can both be classed as an amaro in the broad sense) Amari really is the hottest thing right now - there are tons of new amari no one even knows about and I even know a few talented individuals making their own amaro! That's when I decided to host an Amaro Week, which I decided to make as a week to keep the content fresh and ensure that no one gets burned out, especially me! (The Last Word campaign ran for a month!)

Mike's S'mores Negroni for Negroni Week - marshmallow infused gin, cacao nibs infused Campari and Graham cracker infused Carpano Antica Formula....garnished with a graham cracker chocolate covered marshmallow. One word. WOW.

Mike's S'mores Negroni for Negroni Week - marshmallow infused gin, cacao nibs infused Campari and Graham cracker infused Carpano Antica Formula....garnished with a graham cracker chocolate covered marshmallow. One word. WOW.

Name 3 bars you'd recommend for anyone visiting your hometown

When you're in LA, you definitely need to go to the Walker Inn. It's probably the best bar in LA right now. The next bar is the Varnish, which is an iconic bar that ushered in the craft cocktail scene here in LA. The third bar AR Cucina is actually a restaurant but has an outstanding bar program. However, the reason I chose this bar is because of the bar manager, Clare Ward. Firstly, she is the sweetest person. Secondly, if you don't see anything you like she is the master of creating cocktails based on your drinking style. You just tell her how you like it and what spirit and she'll create something just for you. 

We’re throwing a cocktail party at home! Throw us some of your cheat sheet tips for making cocktails for the masses (and still have a good time!)

I saw a friend do this once and thought it was a brilliant idea - a DIY Gin and Tonic bar. She had different types of gin, different tonics, tons of fresh fruits and herbs. Each guest was able to create their own gin and tonic based on what they wanted. They could try different combos and see what they like. The guests get to be involved and play bartender, which was a great way for them to be exposed to cocktail creation and maybe spark an interest for them to try it at home. Also it allows you to be free and mingle with your guests.

Thank you Mike for taking time out to answer our questions! 
Amaro Week runs from 21 to 27 August 2017 and all are welcomed to participate. All you have to do is come up with a post on Instagram that showcases your favourite amari and recipe, whether it is a cocktail you have had in a bar somewhere that you feel the world should know about, or something you've invented. Just tag @amaroweek and @mmydrinks in your post and use the hashtag #amaroweek.  There's even some sweet giveaways, so get posting people!

Connect the Gram - Kerry aka At Home Cocktails

Continuing on from our series of Connect the Gram, we move from Alaska to Australia to meet one of our very own, Kerry of At Home Cocktails! We can't say definitively how we came across Kerry's account but in this small world that is Instagram, you soon find that cocktail enthusiasts have a way of flocking together...and are we glad we found Kerry's account. Showcasing the best of what you can achieve at home without any fancy schmanzy gadgets (particularly when you're on the go), we've fallen in love with all that Kerry puts up on her feed. Why? You'll have to follow to find out for yourself! In the meantime, here's a few good reasons below!

Meet the lady behind the 'gram, Kerry!

Meet the lady behind the 'gram, Kerry!

What's your IG handle and tell us a little bit about yourself.

My Instagram account is @athomecocktails - so named because I make all my drinks from the comfort of my own home! It's lots of fun playing with different flavour combinations, to build a cocktail. I was born and raised in Auckland and moved to Sydney in my 20's. After 9 amazing years there, I now call Perth my home. 

Do you remember how your interest in cocktails started?

I only got in to cocktails a little over a year ago in 2016. I have always been a wine drinker but when I was holidaying with the family in Fiji, I was talked in to a cocktail by the resort bar staff. 20 cocktails later, I was hooked and returned home to start my own mixing. I started a liqueur collection and I am constantly adding to it. 

When did you start your Instagram account and what was the motivation for starting it?

I started my IG account at the same time as I started mixing. It started out as a kind of a diary for myself to look back on and it has grown beyond belief. I have met some fantastic people on IG and I am thankful for their support, advice and friendship. 

Can you believe Kerry made up this little number whilst staying in a...HOTEL??? A riff on a gin sour float with local Perth gin Hippocampus, red grapes, lime, honey and shiraz...with the grapes muddled using a dessert spoon. 

Can you believe Kerry made up this little number whilst staying in a...HOTEL??? A riff on a gin sour float with local Perth gin Hippocampus, red grapes, lime, honey and shiraz...with the grapes muddled using a dessert spoon. 

How often do you post and do you have a method of deciding what you make or feature in each post?

I post an average of 2-3 cocktails per week. Inspiration strikes all over the place. I might see a fruit or herb when I'm out on my travels and build a cocktail around it. I might even see a flower that is screaming to be accompanied by a drink. I love making syrups so I'll often make up a crazy concoction and then think about other flavours that will compliment each other. My 4 year old son asks for a cocktail whenever he sees me mixing. I usually have some iced tea concentrates for colour and flavour alongside fresh juice so that I can make him something that looks like what I'm having. As long as he has garnish as well, he's happy - he doesn't realise he's being served the mocktail version and I cringe every time he tells people about how much he loves cocktails! I make a fair bit of dehydrated fruit as he's a huge fan!

Your photos always look so crisp and beautiful! What do you use to shoot it and do you have any tips for the budding drinkstagrammer?

I use an iPhone 7plus to shoot my cocktails. The dual camera gives you options for your shots. I love being able to have my drink in focus, whilst fading out the background. 

When I first started posting on IG, I only had my drink in the shot but I noticed other drinkstagrammers had added props in theirs. Slowly I started to do the same. A spoon here and a flower there. I really enjoy setting a scene now. I don't always get it right but I do have fun. My tip is less is more! If you have a gorgeous cocktail and garnish, then adding too many props will detract from that. 

Beautiful composition matching an equally beautiful cocktail...all achieved at home but rivalling some of the best cocktail bars we've seen. This one here a fizz made with gin, homemade lychee lavender syrup, lemon juice, cream, butterfly pea extract, egg white and soda water. 

Beautiful composition matching an equally beautiful cocktail...all achieved at home but rivalling some of the best cocktail bars we've seen. This one here a fizz made with gin, homemade lychee lavender syrup, lemon juice, cream, butterfly pea extract, egg white and soda water. 

What's been the weirdest or strangest combination cocktail you've made or drank?

I have too many odd mixes to mention. Earlier this year, I made a drink with orange liqueur, coffee liqueur, espresso and tonic. I can't believe how fantastic it tasted. Who knew espresso and tonic was a match made in heaven?!

What's the one cocktail ingredient you cannot do without at the moment?

I can't do without..... ummmm..... I actually don't favour any one thing! I love gin, but I don't have a favourite brand. If I had to pick, I'd go with dried fruits. Why? Because it's my go to garnish and I'd struggle without them. 

We're throwing a cocktail party at home! Throw us some of your cheat sheet tips for making cocktails for the masses (and still have a good time!)

Cocktail parties at home require prep. Have a plan, have everything ready, so all you have to do is mix and serve. I recommend making a couple of syrups up for different flavour profiles and serving a layered shot at some stage. Make sure you have enough glassware on hand.  Keep it simple. 

Thanks Kerry for chatting to us! You can follow Kerry on Instagram on @athomecocktails

Connect the Gram - Carissa aka The Fermented Alaskan

In the series of Connect the Gram, we go behind the scenes to connect you with the person behind some of our favourite cocktail Instagram accounts. Behind some of these amazing creations, many are mainly home bartenders and living proof that to make fabulous cocktails, all you need is passion and a willingness to learn and experiment. Whether you are starting out or have been making drinks at home for a while, we you will discover some new accounts that will inspire you on this crazy journey called cocktail imbibing!

FermentedAlaskanlogo

First up, we're speaking to Carissa, who some of you may recognise as the @thefermentedalaskan on Instagram. We were first introduced to Carissa's account by another drinkstagrammer who goes by the tag @cocktail.guru (more on him later in this series). To be honest, Alaska was probably the last place we thought we would find cocktail inspiration because we generally associated that state more with icy snow covered terrain, dog sleds and Alaskan wolves...not exactly the stuff that makes you think of booze. BY GOLLY WERE WE WRONG! 

We were instantly blown away by the creativity of Carissa's creations, many of which utilises home made spirits and mixers from locally foraged ingredients. In fact, it was her Aviation cupcake creation that was the inspiration for the cocktail cupcake we first served up at our Redlands' cellar door tasting event. Never too busy to provide tips on any cocktail questions you might have, her generosity and genuine passion for crafting cocktails will have you bookmarking her account as a favourite. And it seems Instagram won't be the only place you'll find Carissa now - she's recently been chosen by the premier global bar fest Tales of the Cocktail to write for them for a year, showcasing the best of the local bar and distilling scene in Alaska. 

THAT Aviation cocktail cupcake - the cupcake base has creme de violette and maraschino liqueur in it, whilst the frosting has all the booze ingredients that make up the cocktail. Lastly, Carissa made an edible chocolate shot glass into which she put the Aviation cocktail itself (a mix of gink creme de violette, maraschino liqueur and lemon zest)

THAT Aviation cocktail cupcake - the cupcake base has creme de violette and maraschino liqueur in it, whilst the frosting has all the booze ingredients that make up the cocktail. Lastly, Carissa made an edible chocolate shot glass into which she put the Aviation cocktail itself (a mix of gink creme de violette, maraschino liqueur and lemon zest)

What’s your IG handle and tell us a little bit about yourself. 

My name is Carissa Pearce but most know me as The Fermented Alaskan. I was born and raised in Anchorage in Alaska. I am a craft cocktail recipe developer and also bartend at events. Here in Alaska, we don't get as great a selection of spirits and mixers compared to the rest of the USA, due to how much it costs to ship stuff up here. There has to be a way to change that! In the meantime, I make my own bitters, amari, syrups, shrubs, liqueurs and tinctures (which I will be selling soon!). I forage for as many ingredients as I can to add them to my own cocktails, taking most of my inspiration from nature - I love the great outdoors and there's nothing better than going for a hike up in the mountains. 

The lady behind the 'gram - behind that sweet face lies one of the most creative minds we've known.

The lady behind the 'gram - behind that sweet face lies one of the most creative minds we've known.

Do you remember how your interest in cocktails started?

I have been making my own liqueur for years from Alaskan wild berries that I pick and would give them out as Christmas presents to my friends and family. I was challenged to make a cocktail out of it and the rest is history! I was then given the book The Drunken Botanist and have never looked back - that book inspired so many of my foraged cocktails, and if you haven’t read it already you are missing out!

When did you start your Instagram account and what was the motivation for it?

I started my Instagram account in 2015. A friend of mine who had tried my cocktail told me that the world needed to see what I was making with the local plants in Alaska. My cocktails are unique in that way and I decided to open one up and I am so glad I did! I have met so many great people in this Instagram community, some I call my friends, and I am so grateful to have people that share my interests and I theirs.

How often do you post and do you have a process for deciding what to make/feature on each post? 

I try to do one or two posts a week depending on how crazy my schedule is. I am always making a bitter or amaro etc that I want to feature in a cocktail so I will play with flavours until I get the result I am happy with. We don’t have seasons in Alaska so my posts are based on what I’m inspired to create at the moment.

You've made some incredible homemade infusions and syrups! What's been the craziest one you made?  

I’ve made some pretty crazy stuff over the years but the one that stands out the most is the fiddlehead fern amaro I made. I adore Cynar (which is an artichoke based bittersweet liqueur) and one day after foraging for fiddlehead ferns I had a crazy idea to make my own Cynar out of the fiddleheads that I picked. Fiddleheads taste similar to an artichoke hence the crazy idea. It took 5 weeks to get the results just perfect and it worked - I had made a fiddlehead amaro that tastes very similar to Cynar! You can't believe how excited I was - I’ve used it in cocktails and it is mind blowing. Goes to show always try what is in your brain!

Ever seen a fiddlehead fern?

Ever seen a fiddlehead fern?

Introduce us to the greatest cocktail ingredient you think there is and tell us why you think everyone should be using it.

This is a tough one because I use a variety of fabulous mixers and ingredients depending on the cocktail I’m making and it's hard to choose just one! I think the ingredient I use the most right now is amaro. I use my homemade amari in just about everything. By adding just a splash to a cocktail it will create the most amazing depth of flavours - amaro pairs well with dark and light spirits and is not confined to one or the other. It is a very versatile ingredient.

One of Carissa's many cocktail creations - this one a bitter and touch of sweet concoction utilising rye whiskey, Byrhh, Antica Formula, Bilaro Amaro, pear liqueur, lemon juice and chuncho bitters garnished with a dehydrated pear.

One of Carissa's many cocktail creations - this one a bitter and touch of sweet concoction utilising rye whiskey, Byrhh, Antica Formula, Bilaro Amaro, pear liqueur, lemon juice and chuncho bitters garnished with a dehydrated pear.

What's this we hear about you and saké - that's not something you put in a cocktail...is it?

I have developed my love of saké over the years by first trying all the bottles while dining on sushi. As soon as my favourite Anchorage boutique booze store La Bodega started carrying a wide variety of saké I was hooked! I started making cocktails with it and noticed it was hard for me to find other people who used saké in their cocktails! This was disheartening at first and quite lonely so I decided to do something about it! I created @sake_sunday as a way to show the world what you can do with saké as an ingredient in cocktails. I make my own to post as well as repost others who are using this fabulous liquid. I've received a nice response from the cocktail community on Instagram and have helped many people buy their first bottle of saké! It's so exciting to see the tags for Saké Sunday start to increase, it means I'm doing something right lol. It's fun too and in the end that's all that matters! I have started reposting cocktails with shochu as well and the plum wine. Basically anything Japanese oriented I'm interested in trying out in a cocktail.

The Bomb Diggity, Carissa's take on the Sake Bomb cocktail. In this is Anchorage Brewing Nectar Honey Saison, Shared Promise Sake and Carissa's own foraged, home made wild rose simple syrup. 

The Bomb Diggity, Carissa's take on the Sake Bomb cocktail. In this is Anchorage Brewing Nectar Honey Saison, Shared Promise Sake and Carissa's own foraged, home made wild rose simple syrup. 

Name 3 bars you'd recommend to anyone visiting you

The first bar is Fiori D’ Italia - Ylli, who works there is the best bartender in this state and is making amazing craft cocktails! He makes his own bitter, syrups, and infusions and he is my favourite. Secondly is my house hah (Ed: that's where you'll find us!) and lastly, I would have to say Ginger (a bar and restaurant) because they also do a pretty decent job making craft cocktails.

We’re throwing a cocktail party at home! Throw us some of your cheat sheet tips for making cocktails for the masses (and still have a good time!)

I have parties all the time at our house and I bartend at other houses as well! The secret is pre-batching. I make several cocktails in big batches; that way all I have to do is shake with ice and pour into glasses. I get to mingle with the guests more and not have the stress of using a jigger for every little ingredient I use in the cocktail I’m making. It makes for an easy clean up too!

Thank you Carissa for taking some time out to answer our questions! We hope one day to visit you in Alaska or seeing you in Sydney
You can follow Carissa on Instagram and also on Facebook under @thefermentedalaskan as well as @sake_sunday

Drinks with our founder - Inoka Ho

Sydney Cocktail Club was founded to foster a sense of community amongst cocktail lovers, with a bit of learning injected into the whole thing. Although the social gatherings have been a great way of facilitating this, Instagram has proven to be another means by which we have connected with other drinkers from across the globe. Many are home bartenders with nothing more than a mutual love of the cocktail connecting them. As a society formed by drinkers for drinkers, it seemed apt to get to know these people. Inspired by the format of Punch's Lookbook that profiles bartenders and industry personalities, we're starting up a series of posts exploring the people behind some of our favourite Instagram accounts - the cocktail enthusiast at home. To kick off the series, we're starting at square one - with our founder and chief drinker, Inoka Ho. If you've ever wondered what lies at the heart of the club, here's your chance to find out in this piece, written in her own words accompanied by some personal images.

In case you missed it, here's me entertaining (and hopefully educating) the crowd at one of SCC's events. Photo credit: Matt Wooler

In case you missed it, here's me entertaining (and hopefully educating) the crowd at one of SCC's events. Photo credit: Matt Wooler

Tell us a little more about yourself and how your interest in cocktails started

I was born in Malaysia and moved to Sydney to study - surprisingly, I wasn't much of a drinker when I was younger, the result of an Asian upbringing I guess. I only really started drinking cocktails after I started working - I like to joke that my work as a lawyer drove me to drink, not in the addictive sense but because the creativity in the drinks I encountered was so different to the mundane dryness associated with the law that it was a relief to step out of work and immerse myself in a completely different world. Gradually, what started off as curiosity developed into a genuine interest in wanting to know what went into my drink, how it was made, and the people who made them. I started talking to the bartenders at the places I frequented and did whatever (little) classes were offered by bars and bottle shops at the time. However, my interest really blossomed when I moved to London - there were so many more events there that were geared towards the consumer drinker. 

Why did you start Sydney Cocktail Club?

When I was in London, I was a member of a drinking society called the London Cocktail Society. The society organised social get togethers for the discerning cocktail drinker, often with an educational slant to it via tastings or talks from various ambassadors and brands. When I returned to Australia, I couldn't find anything similar here so I decided to start Sydney Cocktail Club in late 2014. By day I still continue to be a lawyer and whenever I'm not practising law, you can find me either drinking, reading and writing about, planning events on, making and dreaming up cocktails. From its inception, Sydney Cocktail Club has been and continues to be a passion project. I love that I get to freely curate events that encourage people to discover more behind the cocktails they drink, minus the sales push that often accompany a lot of events I've been to before. I don't tend to focus on any one particular spirit and I try and think of ways to present the information in a more engaging way than just sit there and stick your nose in a glass - I guess what I aim to do is recreate the kind of events that facilitated my own learning and hopefully inspire someone else that way. For me, there's nothing more rewarding than being able to be a spoke in someone else's journey.  

One of the many SCC events - this was of our vodka tasting event which we styled as a Secret Mission aimed at debunking the myth that vodka was this flavourless, neutral beast.

One of the many SCC events - this was of our vodka tasting event which we styled as a Secret Mission aimed at debunking the myth that vodka was this flavourless, neutral beast.


Do you have a personal Instagram account? 

I don't have a personal Instagram account myself but everything you see on the Sydney Cocktail Club account to date has been posted by me. When I started Instagramming, I wasn't really sure what to expect from that platform - I started off just posting about our events and drinks I had when I was out. Gradually, I also started posting up drinks I made at home and over time, discovered some of these amazing accounts from home bartenders like myself, either through comments they leave on the SCC account or from the Instagram discovery section. Regardless of race, religion, nationality or ethnicity, all the drinkstagrammers I've encountered have been very supportive and generous with their feedback and I've even met some in real life when they've visited Sydney! I genuinely think now that wherever I go in the world, I will never have to worry about drinking alone. 

How often do you post and do you have a process for deciding what to make/feature on each post? 

I do try and post at least three times a week but sometimes life can get in the way and I end up only doing one post a week. I don't have a set schedule for what I feature - I don't actually schedule my posts like some professionals do - the SCC Instagram feed is a mix of events I go to, drinks I've had at bars and cocktails I make myself at home. I am trying to do more posts featuring home made concoctions but in between juggling work, planning and attending events, writing what I can for the website and others (I've also written for Diffordsguide and Barchick) not to mention life in general, I find it a luxury to be able to experiment at home.

One of the Work in Progress blue cheese cocktails - this was as I recall it, one of the earlier concoctions that really did not turn out all that well.

One of the Work in Progress blue cheese cocktails - this was as I recall it, one of the earlier concoctions that really did not turn out all that well.

What's been the strangest cocktail you've made?

That's got to be the time when I read this article on Punch about this bartender who had used blue cheese in a cocktail without the usual fat washing or infusion methods. Like, he actually used a chunk of blue cheese in the drink. He made a variation of the Ramos Gin Fizz and that got me thinking, could I come up with a cocktail doing the same? I was drinking quite a bit of peaty whisky at that point and blue cheese is often paired with it, so I thought, why not try and make something combining the two? What ensued was a crazy couple of weeks of experiments (and a lot of blue cheese consumption) as I tried to find the right cheese to use, and also the balance between how much cheese vs liquid to use. I can't say I really mastered it but I ended up with one concoction that tasted like stout, with the blue cheese contributing a yeasty malty flavour to the drink. The one thing I learnt from this whole experiment? With blue cheese, "less is definitely more"

Introduce us to the greatest cocktail ingredient you think there is and tell us why you think everyone should be using it

That's hard to pick! I've been working a lot with a locally produced cumquat liqueur made by Baker Williams Distillery out in Mudgee in NSW and it's one of my must haves at the moment. I find it more tart and less syrupy sweet than the usual Cointreau or Grand Marnier, and the hint of bitterness that flows through it, makes it more versatile to work with, whether it is with gin, rum or whisky. It is seasonal so when they do make it once a year, I try and stock up!

Name 3 bars that you’d recommend for anyone visiting Sydney

Only 3??? For me, a great bar is not the one with the most expensive fit out, fancy garnishes or rare spirits - to be honest, with the level of technology facilitating so much knowledge exchange nowadays, I find most bartenders can make a decent enough drink but not many can make you feel like you're "at home" when you're sat in front of them. For that reason, I tend to judge the best bars on whether I would be comfortable drinking there solo. I've always had a good time at Papa Gedes, a voodoo tiki inspired bar - you often find at least one of the owners behind the stick and they do make an effort to get to know you aside from just asking what you want to drink. Maybe Frank is another such place as is Bulletin Place. My best tip when going to all of those places? Sit at the bar if you can.

We’re throwing a cocktail party at home! Throw us some of your cheat sheet tips for making cocktails for the masses (and still have a good time!)

Planning planning planning! And less is more! I tend to work out a few cocktails I'll make and stick them up on a makeshift menu that I offer to guests. I try and limit the cocktails I have to stir up or shake on the spot though - at max, only one of the cocktails will require preparation on the spot. The rest will either be pre-batched or made punch style. I've also been known to make a DIY stand (it's not cheating!)