Here's how Dean & Nancy on 22’s new cocktail list came to life

Inspired by iconic locations around the world, the list aims to put Dean & Nancy on the map.

Here's how Dean & Nancy on 22’s new cocktail list came to life
The Raffles cocktail at Dean & Nancy on 22. Photo: Daniele Massacci

Dean & Nancy on 22 has the makings of a great hotel bar. It has the setting right: high atop the city streets of Sydney on the 22nd floor of the A by Adina hotel, Dean & Nancy is perched among the skyscrapers, with floor to ceiling windows affording a view from the bar like nothing else in town. With a sweeping staircase ascending to the bar, a grand piano, and some top-notch, sharply-suited bartenders on the stick, it definitely has that ‘grand hotel bar’ feeling right.

Now, with the release of their second cocktail list, one suspects they're aiming to put Dean & Nancy on 22 firmly on the map as an international cocktail destination.

The Around The World menu launches this week, on Wednesday 28 September, and it is inspired by iconic locations around the world; the concertina-style menu folds out to reveal 12 cocktails inspired by places as far afield as Park Güell in Barcelona, Raffles in Singapore, and even the pyramids of Giza.

It’s the first big change-up in the menu since the bar opened in 2021, and the first for creative director Martin Hudak since the departure late last year of his predecessor in the role, Andrea Gualdi, and comes on the back of sister bar Maybe Sammy's most recent update in April this year.

Hudak has big hopes for the menu, so below we ask him a little about how it all came together, the big ideas animating it, and more.

But first, if you — like me — love a great drink, then there's some exciting news on the way. Give @drinkoftheyear a follow on Instagram, and stay tuned for an announcement very soon.
The Giza cocktail from Dean & Nancy on 22. Photo: Daniele Massacci
The Giza cocktail from Dean & Nancy on 22. Photo: Daniele Massacci

For those who haven't been yet, what’s the big idea behind Dean & Nancy on 22?

The concept of bringing the magic of the 1950s-style ‘hotel’ bar experience from Maybe Sammy into a premium hotel is something we’ve been wanting to do for a while. Together with A by Adina, we were able to achieve this and launched Dean & Nancy on 22 in May 2021. You can expect an elevated hotel bar experience with bit of Maybe Sammy theatrics and hospitality ethos with the most stunning 360 glass view which will transport you into Manhattan or even downtown Tokyo.

What’s the idea behind your menus?

Around The World will be presented like a concertina map; unfolding to reveal 12 cocktails inspired by interesting corners of the globe our fictional characters ‘Dean and Nancy’ have visited. Each cocktail is named after an iconic international landmark with the ingredients and creative concept tying back into the produce and/or flavours of the country it is located in.

There is much more confidence to travel overseas now so we wanted to send our fictional characters, Dean and Nancy, abroad to shine a light on some of the iconic landmarks around the world that don’t necessarily get the same attention others do. We have the luxury of being on the 22nd floor of A by Adina Sydney and that height gives us a different perspective of buildings around us. It’s that lens we wanted to apply to this menu and some of our favourite travel destinations around the world.

You best believe there's a bubble drink on the menu. Photo: Daniele Massacci
You best believe there's a bubble drink on the menu. Photo: Daniele Massacci

How does this one differ from the previous list?

This menu has been developed for the first time entirely by our bar team, led by venue manager Stefano Filardi and assistant bar manager Krisztian Csigo. The front of house worked together with the back of house in teams which created an interesting harmony and brought more ideas and wider spectrum into the drink creations. Their respective personalities and cultural backgrounds really made this menu special and I truly believe this is one of the best cocktail menus you’ll find in Sydney. Also, this is the first time we will launch our menu in printed form which can be taken away by guests as a travel map or memory of their visit.

Could you describe one of the drinks on the list that you love, and tell us a bit about how it came to be?

For obvious reason (my love for coffee) I would like to highlight the unmissable Giza  which provides an extra layer of fun through the pyramid-inspired, conical glass the cocktail is served in. Presented with a flurry of smoke, the Giza combines Absolut Vodka, Mr Black Coffee Liqueur, Lagavulin 16, raspberry, hibiscus burnt honey and Sammy Junior Filter Coffee resulting in a bona fide showstopper. The cocktail is pre-batched and pre-chilled and served with iconic Espresso Martini foam effect thanks to our build-in nitro system. It tastes as good as it looks.

How long did this menu take to develop — can you outline the process?

The initial concept for the Around The World menu came last year during lockdown as a way to escape from reality. I really missed travelling and I knew it was the same for everyone so I wanted to transport guests and their experience through the drinks into different places around the world. Just to give them a sense they can visit those faraway places. From that first idea to the paper drawing and team assignments it took six months and then another six months for R&D. When the ideas are presented, we all gather together behind the bar and share opinions. For us, trust and honesty is very important and the voice of any team member has to be taken to consideration. We don’t want the menu to be solely the vision of one person – we want the whole team to be personally invested in it.

How personal are the experiences the menu draws upon?

[Co-owner] Stefano Catino really wanted us to create a blue drink as an homage to his hometown, Vernazza, located in the picturesque Cinque Terre region in Italy but considering we were linking the cocktails to iconic landmarks, that wasn’t going to fit. Instead, we created the Thera and attributed it to the iconic white and blue buildings in Greek Santorini.

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