Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Meet, Mix & Mingle

Wellington On A Plate draws to a close, but we have one last event – possibly the last event of the whole competition?  – to attend: Meet, Mix & Mingle at Coco at The Roxy.

For the past four years, WOAP have been running a Cocktail Wellington competition along the same lines as Burger Wellington: competitors are asked to design a new cocktail, and accompanying tapa. In the first year, this competition was won by Ray Letoa, chief mixologist and barman at Coco at The Roxy. I remember drinking this three years ago.

In 2016, the competition was won by…Ray Letoa, from Coco at The Roxy.

In 2017, it was won by…Ray Letoa, from Coco at The Roxy.

We’re still waiting for the 2018 result.

In this event, Ray took us through the three winning cocktails, with their accompanying tapas, as well as this year’s entry. He also explained his inspiration for the cocktails, how he works, took questions from the audience, asked the audience some questions of his own, and generally entertained us for two hours. With cocktails and food. What’s not to like?

First up, he introduced the Miramar fizzy pop – a combination of gin, pomegranate juice, ginger and lemongrass syrup, mango foam, dried raspberries, and dry ice. He explained the use of dry ice in cocktails and the effects he can make with them. He also explained that he has a background in chemistry at university, which helps a little. He invited us up to the stage to try making this cocktail ourselves:

Next up, the 2016 entry: a cocktail without a spirit base. In this drink Ray combines red wine with a secret mix of foraged herbs and spices, and a bitters of his own concoction. This was the Welly(on)wood. At the time it was served with a tapa of dumplings containing foraged ingredients served on Wellington driftwood, which he was unfortunately unable to reproduce for this event…so we starved for this round. Ray is not he kind of guy to foist some substitute or inauthentic ingredient on us. Meticulous is his middle name.

The 2017 entry was Sonntag’s Journey, a remake of an old-fashioned cocktail. Ray used a little-known unaged bourbon, then aged it himself using a barrel bottle. This was accompanied by pulled pork sliders with his own chilli chipotle sauce, and slaw.

The final cocktail of the evening was this year’s entry. He’s again rung the changes by collaborating with Fortune Favours brewery to create a pina colada beer, and enhancing this with rum, adding toasted coconut syrup, lime juice, and a mango-pineapple foam. Served in Vietnamese coconut shells! He explained the difficulties he’d had importing those into New Zealand, with our strict biosecurity protocols. He also explained why he was using ice (the barman’s enemy) instead of CO2 for this cocktail – as it was topped off with beer, adding CO2 would have had the whole concoction foaming all over the place. This was served with a beef rendang and pineapple slider.

At the end, he asked us which was our favourite. The majority vote was for the Miramar Fizzy Pop, so he offered us another round of these! We staggered out somewhat woozily and caught an Uber home.

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