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A Ponsonby Cocktail Hero and his Award-Winning Drink

A date with one of Ponsonby Road's finest beverage making gems.

By Will Seal
March 07, 2014
By Will Seal
March 07, 2014

There is an abundance of cocktail goodness in our fair city, with creative minds doing creative things to create truly unique alcoholic experiences (and fuzzy memories). But one amongst them stands out as truly exceptional.

Jason Clark, manager and bartender of Bedford Soda and Liquor in Ponsonby Central, is that man. The cocktail hero this city you might say. Having represented New Zealand at the World Class 50 Bartender of the Year final in 2013, and ranked fourth in the world, it’s fair to say this Ponsonby Road-based mixologist is one of the bar-laden street's (and indeed the nation's) finest beverage making gems.

Keeping his and Bedford’s focus on retro-ish styled drinks with attention directed at fresh, hand-made sodas, jugs, fruity concoctions and other refreshing tonics, we jumped at the chance to try this world ranked cocktail from arguably New Zealand’s best barman. How would it stack up?

Jason, who has wandered the world honing and shaping his skill, tastes and craft, whipped us up a few of his winning drink, Kissed by Marilyn. Owing to its worldwide fame and acclaim, the very special concoction also features in the World Class 50 Definitive Drinking Guide; the competition's resulting go-to hub for the world’s best cocktails, mixologists and bars (review and gawk, with a healthy dose of FOMO).

Based on the frothy Silver Gin Fizz, Kissed by Marilyn is designed to “evoke the frisson of a date with Marilyn Monroe.” It is based on Tanqueray NO.Ten - a drink I’m not usually a huge fan of but thoroughly enjoyed this time around - then blended with a homemade syrup of Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve with Manuka honey, and served with a saffron-salt popcorn for a truly unique garnish. When produced to 100% international cocktail competition grade presentation (which we got) the rim of the glass is coated with a lemon sugar syrup and garnished with crumbled meringue and salted Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve toffee.

With one sip it’s quickly clear why the judges ranked this delectable concoction so highly – like a rich and fulfilling nectar of the gods it seemed almost too good to drink but (alas) went down amazingly, all while we were talked through the various flavour notes and technical elements by Jason.  Making it largely the greatest cocktail experience we’ve ever had.

Chatting away with the man, and Bedford’s current cocktail list, you’ll gain a fast appreciation why he placed well in the World Class 50 Bartender of the Year competition. We can’t recommend you get there fast enough.

Published on March 07, 2014 by Will Seal
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