Winner of this year’s Diageo® “Beauty of the Blends” single-malt Scotch whisky competition in Australia, Brazilian-born mixologist, Thalita Alves, shared with us her story and her Foodpairing-inspired “World Class in a Cocktail” creation.
Sometimes life takes us on a different trajectory for very good reason. When Thalita Alves moved to Australia in 2009 to pursue her masters in education, she had no idea that her “weekend job” at a local bar would quickly evolve into a full-time passion, eventually landing her a spot at The Gresham Bar, which touts the single most extensive menu of rye whiskeys and bourbons throughout all of Brisbane.
And so began her education in mixology—not just limited to whisky and spirits—but also dilutions, temperatures, flavors, aromas, herbs, spices, pairings and even cooking techniques, such as macerations, fermentations and everything in between. We spoke to Thalita about how she combines spirits with common and exotic ingredients in order to best showcase their essential flavors and their—sometimes surprisingly—complementary pairings.
Seaweed – sesame – Scotch whisky – caramel – Madeira Wine
“BAREFOOT INDULGENCE” COCKTAIL
Presented atop a driftwood serving platter alongside freshly shucked Pacific oysters, “Barefoot Indulgence” recalls Thalita’s most cherished moments spent on the sandy beaches of Brazil’s Ilha do Mel (Honey Island) before discovering her second home away from home on Australia’s famed Gold Coast. By pairing the smoky, scotch whisky notes of Johnnie Walker Platinum Label with the mineral, briny and oaky elements of seaweed and toasted sesame seeds, what we discover are all the elements of an ocean breeze captured within the gentle swirl of a cocktail glass.
- 50ml Johnnie Walker Platinum Label Scotch Whisky
- 15ml Henriques & Henriques 10year Verdelho Madeira Wine
- 10ml Seaweed Tincture
- 10ml Toasted Sesame Seed-Infused Caramel Syrup
- 2 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
With its rich mouth feel and long finish, Henriques & Henriques’s premium Verdelho Madeira has been aged for ten years, resulting in smooth, subtle notes of raisin, honey and oak. Its delicate, medium acidity makes it a superlative match for Johnnie Walker Platinum Label scotch whisky.
Using a process of rapid infusion, Thalita combined varying proportions of tinctures derived from different types of seaweed: kombu and wakame for their salty, savory notes; arame for its grassier, back of the palate feel; roasted nori and dulse, a red seaweed known for its spicy umami quality. Find different algae on the foodpairing.com website.
Toasted Sesame Seed-Infused Caramel Syrup
To balance the salinity of her seaweed tinctures, Thalita also created her own homemade syrup by muddling and infusing the flavor of toasted sesame seeds into a luscious caramel syrup.
Combine and pour mixture into a crystal mixing glass, stirring over clear ice blocks to desired dilution and temperature. Strain into a double old fashioned glass with a Herbsaint-misted clear ice rock.
Whisky & Oyster Pairing
Believe it or not—the sweet, subtle smokiness of Johnnie Walker Platinum Label rounds out the oyster’s briney edges beautifully, while the scotch whisky’s slight drying astringency serves to enhance the bivalve’s smooth, buttery flavor and texture.
- Fresh Pacific Oyster
- 5 drops Johnnie Walker Platinum Label Scotch Whisky
- Herbsaint Mist
- Smoked Sea Salt Foam
Using a dropper, top freshly shucked Pacific oyster with Johnnie Walker Platinum before lightly misting with Herbsaint anise-flavored liqueur. Then, gently spoon smoked sea salt foam to top oyster and serve alongside “Barefoot Indulgence” cocktail on a driftwood tray.