Crafted Cocktails by Kate McGraw

Grosvenor Place talks cocktails and dumplings with Papa Bo Min’s Bar Operations Manager, Kate McGraw.

How did your love for cocktails begin?

I actually fell into the cocktail world by chance after taking up a bartending job to help pay my rent. I started experimenting with different flavours and spirits whenever I had a spare moment – for me it was the ultimate creative output and that’s where my passion for cocktail mixology really started to take off.

What inspires your creations?

Taste – it always comes down to taste. I have a very sensitive but adventurous palate and I love seeking out new and unusual flavours. Generally, my cocktails are based around a flavour or an aroma that is tied to one of my memories, so the creative process is always quite a personal one.

Why are cocktails so important at Papa Bo Min?

Cocktails are an integral part of Papa Bo Min. It’s a fun, casual venue with a buzzing atmosphere and the cocktail menu has been carefully developed to amplify that vibe. The cocktails are designed to spark conversation and add a theatrical element to the customer experience.

What are the main factors to consider for an unforgettable cocktail experience?

There are many factors to consider when it comes to cocktails – from the sound of a bartender shaking and a texturally interesting glass, to the visual drama of a garnish, the fragrant combination of aromas and of course, the taste. For me, the most memorable cocktails are the ones that incorporate all five human senses.

Dumplings and cocktails are a match made in heaven… why do they go so well together?

Dumplings are the ultimate bar food! I think the whole experience of both eating dumplings and drinking cocktails is a social one, something that inspires conversation, even if it’s fighting over the last BBQ pork bun!

How do you match your cocktail creations to the menu?

I work really closely with our kitchen and the ingredients they’re using. If, for example, the chefs are working on a light, summery menu then we look to work with flavours that aren’t going to overpower what’s hitting the plate. If it’s a winter menu, then we will select bolder, heartier flavours to compliment the food. I also love experimenting with traditionally savoury ingredients like root vegetables and fats, so I always keep an eye on what goodies our chefs are using so I can incorporate that to inspire the cocktail menu.
What’s your top pick on a visit to Papa Bo Min?

You can’t beat a Mad Hatter cocktail (cognac, tropical fruits, lychee) and a basket of our signature duck and spinach dumplings!

What spirits or trends can we expect to see in year 2017?

Sustainable bartending is a global trend that is really starting to gain traction through no-waste movements like Trash Tiki. People in the industry are becoming increasingly creative with ways to minimise their excess behind the bar and repurposing the offcuts. In terms of spirits, I think Pisco is having a bit of a renaissance. I also think that a lot more Australian bartenders are starting to favour domestically produced spirits as opposed to imported.

What’s your tipple of choice?

I’m very partial to our Dragon’s Jealousy cocktail – Italian aperitif, peach, dragonfruit and yuzu.

Care to share the recipe?

30ml Adelaide Hills Distillery Italian Aperitif (you can use equal parts of Campari and Aperol as an alternative)
20ml Peach Puree
15ml Yuzu Juice (available at Chinese grocers)
10ml Vanilla Syrup
2 Dashes Angosturra Bitters
Shake it up then fine strain into a cocktail glass. We serve ours in a hollowed out Dragonfruit for a bit of theatre!