With an emphasis on local ingredients and an Expo '88 vibe, Rosella's has a new cocktail list.
Rosella’s is the little Gold Coast bar that goes big on Australia; their latest cocktail list features a drink inspired by a certain large Australian human.
Meet the Chris Hempsworth: Husk Rum, Brookie’s Gin, Imbroglio, pineapple, pandanus, palm heart, and hemp seed oil.
“This drink was designed around being a very tropical and coastal town where the handsome Chris Hemsworth resides,” says Rosella’s co-owner and bartender Jack Connor.
The drink’s two prominent spirits — Husk Pure Cane and Brookie’s Gin — are from the Byron Bay area, as is the pandanus vinegar.
“We use a five year aged pandanus vinegar supplied by Peter Hardwick,” says Connor, “who is an amazing forager in the Northern Rivers area. This gives the drink a nice tropical mango, papaya flavour and incredible depth with the funky kombucha vinegar side of things, plus great acidity to balance out the fresh cold pressed, sweet pineapple.”
The drink is just one of seven on the short cocktail list, which was recently completely re-worked for the first time since they opened in 2019.
“One of the big driving factors was us completely changing our food menu, so wanted to do the same with our cocktail menu,” says Connor. “We haven’t had a whole overhaul of the cocktail menu since we opened, have always kept a few bangers and added or changed a couple other cocktails here and there. So [it] was great to have a complete refresh.”
The new list also doubles down on Rosella’s use of local ingredients, Connor says.
“I have always used the most local products in terms of the cocktail list — e.g. [for the] Blinky Bill we use Tambourine Mountain Distillery Eucalyptus Vodka and their Quandong Gentian Bitter. But this has been more of a focus with the new list. Using even more so local products, fruits. Using a lot more preserving techniques for the fruits when they are in season, and using the best in season fruits as well.”
Being as close to the border between Queensland and New South Wales as they are, it almost goes without saying that the bar has found the pandemic a tough time.
“[A] big change on the list at the moment would have to be that we ditched the Queensland Border Pass — one of our most popular cocktails for a very long time,” Connor says. “Fuckin’ hooray! This has been a huge thorn in our ass for the past seven months since they were re-introduced. Being so close to the border at Burleigh we lost a lot of regulars for half a year.”
But they are managing to pull through the pandemic, thanks to friends of the bar and their staff.
“Business has been great in the big scheme of things — with a tonne of challenges,” says Connor. “The ol’ omicron variant took a little while to come to Queensland but was tricky when it did.
“We saw a lot of neighbour venues in Burleigh start closing up shop because staff had either caught the virus, or been a close contact. We managed to have a full team when it did, so [we] offered to help open up next door on NYE, as they had one chef who managed to stay unscathed. [We] did a little reduced menu and got something coming through the till. Managed to do it another night for them, with more of our amazing staff who are still unscathed, Romony and Toby (these humans deserve medals).
“Then we saw covid start to go through Rosella’s. Romony, our almighty all rounder, kept Rosellas open all summer long with a few fill-ins, aka good friends and family. Even Mum and the sister help kept the food going for us on Boxing Day!
"So thankfully [for] friends, family and Romony we didn’t have to close up shop this busy period, and stuck to our seven days open trade.”
- 25ml Husk Pure Cane (palm heart-infused)
- 15ml Brookies Gin (aged in 15L American oak for 5 weeks)
- 10ml bitter blend (Imbroglio, TMD Gentian)
- 45ml cold pressed pineapple juice
- 5ml pandanus vinegar
- 5 drops of hempseed oil
“We first infuse the rum and gin with palm heart,” says Connor. “This adds the beautiful subtle flavour of coconut with a splash of vegetable flavour. After just a few days in the barrel I noticed this flavour of coconut sky rocket... which was super interesting. We use a five year aged pandanus vinegar supplied by Peter Hardwick, who is an amazing forager in the Northern Rivers area. This gives the drink a nice tropical mango, papaya flavour and incredible depth with the funky kombucha vinegar side of things, plus great acidity to balance out the fresh cold pressed, sweet pineapple. This is the big one, using pineapple in season, and sweetening it by letting the pineapple ripen up at room temp. To finish it up and give it some nutty silky texture we had a splash of hempseed oil.”