-by Lizzie Macaulay
When I learned what my next Lizzie Learns To… column was on, I was pretty sure I had the greatest job in the world. I wasn’t disappointed either. Lucky lady over here had the incredible honour of stepping behind the brand new, exquisitely polished bar of 19XO – the wine and cocktail bar we’ve all been dreaming about here on the Fraser Coast.
I’m sure you’re all surprised to hear it, but I’m not a stranger to the odd cocktail – mostly drinking them, but occasionally making them as well.
In my youth, I slung dreadful cocktails for the suburban masses of Melbourne on a Friday and Saturday night, so I thought I had a reasonable concept of what I was getting myself into. Standard spirits… mixer… ice… garnish… right?
As usual, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
As charismatic co-owner Geoffrey escorts me behind the sprawling bar, he shows me the storage space which is packed full of local ingredients and garnishes and custom infused spirits. As I take it all in, I’m aware of just how much thought has gone into every aspect of this new business.
I’m completely unsurprised by the massive success they have experienced so far, even despite opening during one of the most bizarre periods of modern history.
An expertly trained French pastry chef, Geoffrey speaks passionately about the flavour profiles and balance achieved with every mouthful of every drink that has been created for the 19XO menu.
I’m enthralled by the expertise he displays in talking about the local ingredients, his incredible staff and their collaborative approach to delivering the type of experience that will set the standard for a new world order in the Fraser Coast food and beverage scene.
It’s particularly exciting to know I will be learning the ropes on an extra special signature cocktail created just for us out of that fabulous brain of his.
Geoffrey takes me through the ingredients: goji berry and pink peppercorn-infused syrup and vodka, Campari and grapefruit vodka shaken over the most perfect cubes of ice you’ve ever seen and double filtered into a very special Nick and Nora glass (a glass so small you would think it wouldn’t pack a punch, but oh, how wrong you’d be!)
He takes me through the steps of bringing this masterpiece together and I’m stunned at how difficult it is to measure each portion accurately. It turns out even the slightest deviation from the recipe knocks the whole flavour profile out of balance.
Inattentive me gets it wrong more than once. Because, of course.
Thankfully Geoffrey swoops in with the world’s largest bottle of (fresh) lime juice, and order is restored. He’s been watching intently and knows, by eye, how to fix the flavour profile I’ve destroyed with my carelessness.
I think about 19XO’s skilful staff who not only have to make these gorgeous drinks perfectly every time, but maintain conversation with patrons as they do it. It’s astonishing!
Then, comes the best bit… the tasting.
Geoffrey has devised what can only be described as the taste of summer. It’s fruity, zingy, not overly sweet and not at all tasting of alcohol – the perfect drink.
Despite its size, it takes me just shy of an hour to drink as I savour each mouthful, and learn even more about Geoffrey and co-owner Damien’s incredible venture.
To say we are lucky to have these wonderful, passionate purveyors of the finest drinks for miles is an understatement.
“It was a true privilege to be a part of just a snippet of their day.”
With thanks to Geoffrey, Damien and the 19XO team.
414B Charlton Esplanade, Hervey Bay