How is this Paloma like a 1996 Corolla?
In the bar world, there are some interesting people. There are some characters.
And then there is Storm Evans.
The charismatic bartender from Far North Queensland is the creative lead at Cantina OK! in Sydney, and he’s ‘a dab hand when it comes to — as he puts it — throwing “some things into cups.”
He also loves a yarn. Below, lightly edited and condensed for clarity, Storm talks about how he’s made his riff on the Paloma (and shares his recipe), and why he’s doubling down on citrus.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
Hi guys, my name is Storm Evans and I’m the creative lead over at Cantina. Um, I don’t really know what I do. I just kind of like throw some, throw some things into cups and say g’day to people as they walk through and just try and make sure that people feel a little better than they did when they came in.
How’s your strike rate on that?
Well, one out of 20, just like my chat, but I’m working on it.
Great. Tell us about your cocktail. What’s it called? What’s the big idea behind it?
My drink is Palome. It is my Paloma that I’ve entered for the Patrón Perfectionists this year. Essentially, the ethos behind this drink was making a drink that really focused on the key points of what makes a Paloma great. So I wanted to really ensure that we’re punching forward delicious grapefruit. I wanted to create some sort of interesting, I guess, array of flavours that really highlights Patrón. So Patrón is a combination of two different spirits, a roller mill, which is a really bright, citrusy, delicious, zesty number. And then we’ve got the tahona component, which is really focusing on this kind of earthy grunginess that not a lot of people really focus on when it comes to Patrón and something that I really wanted to kind of separate and highlight. So the way I did that was actually created a spiked cordial with some salmiana, which is quite a herbaceous kind of interesting type of agave and then and made a little mandarin liqueur with it. So some essential oils, some of the salmiana, sugar, water, acid, some spices and just kind of mix that all together.
My guiding ethos for this challenge round was, we need to make a Paloma, [so] let’s make something that looks, tastes and feels like a Paloma when we’re drinking it. I think it’s very easy in a lot of these challenges to be quite distracted by all the bells and whistles, like I’ve got to reinvent the wheel when honestly, we’re just taking a 96 Corolla and we’re smacking some new mags on it.
You know what I mean? Like, it’s like, yes, the mags look fantastic. But at the end of the day, you still want to be like, that’s a 96 Corolla.
What was the location that inspired you?
The place has a couple names. Officially it is the city of Veracruz and the state of Veracruz, or as the locals call it El Puerto, which is how I like to refer to it as well. This essentially is the citrus port of Mexico. So Veracruz is the highest producing region in Mexico and one of the top five citrus producing regions in the entire world. All of the citrus from the whole state of Veracruz is kind of funnelled down into El Puerto.
That city is beautiful. There’s lots of different cultures, so I knew that there would be an amazing array of influences that I could pull from. I wanted to focus on a city that really believed in the citrus as much as I kind of I do — everything we do at Cantina is fresh citrus. Every Paloma we make uses hand squeezed grapefruit and hand squeezed lime.
You guys do emotional tastings at Cantina, OK! — give me the emotional tasting notes for this drink.
Alright, so emotional tasting is of course by no means your typical tasting. It’s gonna sound weird...
Go for it.
It’s like Sunday arvo river swims, I think. Light, refreshing, you’re there with your mates, a little bit of like dirt, mossiness, bit of earthiness, it’s a lot of fun.
- 40ml Patrón Reposado
- 30ml salmiana-spiked grapefruit cordial
- 20ml soda water
Garnish with salted whole mandarin sherbet dust on grapefruit jelly wedge (set in skin).
Jellied Grapefruit Wedge:
- Halve 6x large grapefruits and juice in a citrus press. Keep Halves to the side.
- Strain and Measure 600mL of grapefruit juice and combine with 600g Caster sugar.
- Stick blend to combine.
Grapefruit Husk Prep:
- With a knife scrape all of the flesh from inside of the grapefruit half. We want to have the pith exposed with no flesh visible.
- Keep to the side for the Jelly.
Grapefruit Jelly Prep:
- Boil 1L of Water - while boiling please continue with the steps below.
- Measure 700mL of Grapefruit Syrup and pour into a cambro.
- Combine with 100mL of freshly squeezed Lime Juice.
- Once the water is boiled measure 300mL of boiling water into a cambro and place 9x sheets of gelatin inside the hot water.
- Stir until fully combined and dissolved.
- Strain Gelatin mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the Grapefruit syrup & Lime Mixture.
- Place prepared grapefruit husks onto a muffin baking tray (to maintain upright position)
- Pour gelatin mixture into the grapefruit husks.
- Place upright in the fridge overnight to set.
- Once set, Slice into wedges and place in a container on baking paper between layers to maintain freshness.
Salted Whole Mandarin Sherbet Prep:
- Slice 1kg of whole mandarins (skin on) into disks and lay on a single layer in the dehydrator.
- Set Dehydrator to 60 degrees and dehydrate overnight.
- Remove the Mandarin and weigh out 200g of dehydrated discs into a herb grinder.
- Combine with 200g Caster sugar, 20g Citric Acid and 10g Flake salt in the herb grinder.
- Grind until a consistent fine powder forms.
- Pour the Salted Whole Mandarin Sherbet into a shot glass and fill halfway.
- Take the Jelly Wedge and dip it halfway into the sherbet. So one half is covered in sherbet and the other is just Jelly.
- Put to the side ready to place on top of the serve.