Words by: Hayden Wood
As 'Que' of Melbourne's multi award winning Black Pearl, Chris Hysted-Adams is a master of using flavours of heritage brands like Cherry Heering in fresh, innovative and trend-setting ways. Is it any wonder the title of World's Best Cocktail Bar from TOTC reins supreme here? Chris reveals his pearls of wisdom on what it takes to lead a team to victory.
Chris chose 2002 as a year from the book of beverage landmarks as it is the year of Black Pearl's inception. "I tasted my first Singapore Sling was when I first started at Black Pearl. I really embraced as many classics as I could, but what really stood out about Cherry Heering to me was that something could stand out so much in a cocktail that had SOOOO many other ingredients!"
A former World Class, Chris has seen more of this industry than many from years on the road where burnout can be part of the package deal. Through his experience, his holistic approach ensures Black Pearl's charter maintains a course for human sustainability and positive industry culture.
He started working the bar in 2007 and notes team culture as much as cocktail innovation helps maintain the pace and standards that keep Black Pearl at the top of her game. Avoiding burnout and building a strong team who have a healthy work life balance are as important and integral to Chris as the cocktails.
"I'm making it very clear that when you do start bartending it's a career and not to see it as a lifestyle."
"If people did not choose hospitality as a career because of the lifestyle, but because of the amazing things you can achieve whilst in it, if people knew this going into it, I'm sure our industry could be even better."
"At Black Pearl, it's a job. You're here for a job. We do encourage you to have just as much fun as people on the other side of the bar and its part of why I still love coming in here for a drink on my days off. But, making it very clear that it's a job and not to see it as a lifestyle, because I think that's when you do open the door to the vices that can cause burnout quickly." "So, we meet every week to two weeks to discuss anything that's happened during service, anything we think we can improve on. We are open so much and the hours are long so it can make it pretty hard to do that sometimes but we make it as quick and efficient as possible. Normally you have that hunch that something might tip over the edge soon so we like getting on the 'front porch' and all agreeing to take a week off drinking!"
The duty of care to his staff and himself includes the insistence on a balanced, varied lifestyle as much as possible, which also helps to keep his ideas fresh.
"A lot of us tend to write-off their days to rest or by drinking at their place of work. It's very easy to just get caught into a routine and only expose yourself to the same influences."
"One thing I force myself to do is find an external influence, something completely removed from the industry ... it might be a night of going to a gallery, going to a restaurant, going to a gig, something like that. Just to kind of ... you know when you have a bit of a creative block? Trying to explore that avenue in another way can have a tendency to unclog it."
"I think it's just having some extended time off away from ... yes, away from bars, away from that industry. I've just come back from two weeks off down the coast and I try to stay nice and active and it's amazing how quickly your brain recovers and starts coming up with more ideas, and really starts ticking over a bit quicker. But also forcing yourself to get out of it every now and then, so you don't become too run down on a project or burnt out, is healthy."
Black Pearl is famous internationally for pioneering new and imaginative ways of tweaking and pushing established systems, techniques and flavours and Chris' Cherry Heering cocktail below is no exception.
Leading by example, living responsibly and an inspiration to many aspiring followers, Chris Hysted-Adams tries to keep the industry healthy and sustainable to do his bit to maintain a tact for another 200 years of heritage Heering cocktails. Currently, he's objectively working on that by looking better in a wetsuit.
Garnish: Edible flowers.
Method: Add all ingredients except soda into a mixing tin or milkshake cup with a quarter of the mixing tin filled with crushed ice. Flash blend in milkshake blender until a frost forms on the outside of the cup (Approx 45-60 sec). Add 60ml chilled soda water to a chilled highball and fine strain flash blended ingredients on top of soda water. Serve straight-up (no ice) in a chilled highball glass.
30 ml Cherry Heering
20 ml Smith & Cross Overproof Rum
20 ml Lime Juice
30 ml Pineapple syrup* (see below)
30 ml Cream
5 drops Soap Bark Extract
60 ml Soda Water
*Pineapple syrup for above
1 ripe pineapple cut into chunks (skins removed)
500g regular white sugar
30ml Everclear (high proof alcohol)
Make a gomme from sugar and water. Allow gomme to chill. Blitz all ingredients in a blender (or with a stick blender if doubling up in batch amounts) for 2-3 minutes before cold steeping in a non-reactive container overnight. Strain steeped ingredients through an oil filter to clarify before bottling. Syrup lasts approximately seven days when refrigerated.