Canada Day 2014 at the Hard Rock Café Sydney

It is hard to get official figures on how many Canadians live in Australia, but it was about 30,000 back in 2006. The first Canadians came to Australia were convicts. They were transported to Australia for their part in the political uprisings in Upper Canada (now the province of Ontario) and Lower Canada (now the province of Quebec) back in 1837-38. A total of 154 Canadian state prisoners were sent to Australia. Since then, Canadians have been coming to Australia as free citizens, enjoying the similarities between the two nations.

On Saturday 28 June 2014 Canadians gathered at the Hardrock cafe Sydney and Cohibar for the biggest Canada Day party in the Southern Hemisphere. Over one thousand people rsvped to the event. There were: two separate DJ areas with DJ Sasha Viacich manning the deck at the Hard Rock Café; trivia which started at 5pm, snow ball fights with white foam balls; snow produced by a snow machine; $15,000 worth of prizes and giveaways including a trip to Canada; and Canadian Day fireworks at 8:30pm. Promotional girls from Kreate Australia handed out Canadian Club whisky branded hats, scarfs, beer stubby holders and watches.

The menu of the Hard Rock Café was Canadianised for the night. Canadian food included as Fatboy burgers, beaver tails (a fried dough pastries hand stretched to resemble a beaver tail), chilli dogs (a hot dog garnished with chilli con carne), perogies (a dough dumpling stuffed with potato and cheese and served with onions and sour cream), buffalo wings and poutine (chips topped with cheese, curd and gravy). Over 50kg of curd got shipped in from Canada to make the poutine.

They were serving 6, 12 and 20 year old Canadian Club Whisky, Canadian Club Whisky slurpees, and cocktails with the names of Maple Leaf, Prairie Sunset, Out-n-about, Chinook, Riders on the Snow Storm, Purple Hazy Shade of Winter, and Saskatoon Slammer. Caesars (not the salad) were the most popular cocktail, containing vodka, clamato (a proprietary blend of tomato juice and clam broth), hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce served in a salt-rimmed glass and garnished with a stalk of celery. Two hundred litres of Clamato got shipped in from Canada just for this drink and bartenders were specially trained to make it.

The beers included Moosehead LagerLa bière St-Ambroise (oatmeal stout, apricot wheat ale and a pale ale), Dieu de Ciel (blanche de paradis, route des epices and rosse d’hibiscus) from a microbrewery in Quebec and Kokanee beer (which is the number one selling beer in British Columbia).

The King of North American parties, Jonathan Lerner, deserves all the credit. He has also organised a 4th of July party which is shaping up to be even bigger than the Canada Day party. About 1,300 people have rsvped to this party. All I know is, that it is going to be another long night for me! — at Hard Rock Cafe Sydney

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Stay Warm with Kraken over Winter at Bungalow 8

Three month ago I went on a date with a guy who after a casual dinner took me to various quirky bars around Sydney and introduced me to the drink spiced rum with ginger beer. At that time, I had never tasted spiced rum and fell in love with the rich and intense flavour of the spiced rum coupled with the ginger beer. This guy was the perfect gentleman carrying for me the box of laundry detergent I had purchased just before the date, as you do! I thought the date went well (despite the oddity of the laundry detergent) but I never heard from him again. Nevertheless, from that day onwards my drink of choice became spiced rum with ginger beer.

One of the brands of spiced rum is The Kraken Rum AUS. Kraken is named after an enormous mythical sea creature said to appear off the coast of Norway. It wreaked havoc on tall ships and rum-running vessels throughout history. On the night of 26 June 2014, Bungalow 8 was converted into a seaside venue where weary sailors would relax with some Kraken after their encounter with this sea creature. The ceiling was covered in a fish net, the pillars of the venue had Kraken chalk artwork by Mielo, and behind the bar were treasure chests and Kraken jars. In fact, Kraken Rum is sponsoring Bungalow 8 over Winter 2014 (June – August).

Two promotional staff roamed the venue posing for photos, distributing drink vouchers and handing out Kraken necklaces. The female promotional worker was called the Krakenette and she was dressed in a black wetsuit, weight belt and face mask. The male promotional worker was called the Kraken Hunter and he was wearing a a dive suit reminiscent of those seen in early movie versions of Jules Verne‘s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

The two Kraken drinks that were served on the night: Kraken Stormy consisting of Kraken Spiced Rum, ginger beer and fresh lime; and Kraken cider made from warm spiced rum, apple cider and spiced sugar syrup heated up and served in a mug garnished with apple slices and a cinnamon quill. Food was also served on the night but the perfect food pairing seemed to be the mini version of Kraken creature appearing on the bottle, the squid.

Halfway through the night, a man approached me and with excitement asked, ‘Do you remember me?’
‘No,’ I responded. ‘I photograph and talk to so many people every night. It is hard for me to remember everyone.’
‘I am the guy who carried your laundry detergent all night,’ he explained.
He then pulled out a fake poker chip from his pocket and asked, ‘Do you remember this?’ I shock my head. ‘It was one of the poker chips they handed out on the night we met. We were to use these to vote for our favourite cocktails.’
‘I lost my phone after our date and was hoping you would call me. I still have the same number.’ he explained.
‘What? Could you not get my number from your phone bill?’ I asked. ‘I don’t call men. I am not a stalker. If a man is interested in a woman, he will call her.’
‘No, I do not even get phone bills,’ he announced.
‘Since our date I have started attending all these cool cocktail tasting and wine tasting events you told me about,’ he continued.
‘Since our date I have been drinking Captain Morgan or Sailor Jerry Australia with ginger beer or ginger ale.’ I announced proudly.
‘No, no,’ he interrupted. ‘I introduced you to Kraken with ginger beer. That was the drink I was buying you. It is my favourite spiced rum.’
I then remembered that that was in fact the rum he told me about. I had forgotten about Kraken. Most bars do not stock it and when I ask for spiced rum I accept whatever is available which is usually Captain Morgan or Sailor Jerry. Some bars don’t even stock ginger beer and I have to substitute it with ginger ale which does not lend itself as well.

We talked for a while and then I suggested that he collect a free drink voucher from the Krakenette before they ran out. He rushed over to the girl and collected it and went to the bar to receive his drink but, instead of returning to me, he went back to the Krakenette who by that stage was talking to two blonds. I never spoke to him again that night and he did not ask for my number again while we were talking. Oh well, I could never understand men. At least now I know that the drink I fell in love with was Kraken. — at Bungalow 8

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The Lobo Plantation 1st Birthday Party

The Lobo Plantation is the best rum bar in Sydney. It is not me telling you this; it is the numerous accolades hanging in the glass cabinet that publicise it. It ranked number four in the Time Out Sydney Bar Guide 2014 and has won the following:
• Highly Commended Best New Bar – Time Out Awards 2014
• Winner of People’s Choice – Time Out Awards 2014
• Winner of Best Fitout – Time Out Awards 2014
• Top 10 – Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar – Spirited Awards (TOTC)
• Most popular new restaurant – Urbanspoon 2013 Top Restaurant
• Best Small Bar – Best of Sydney 2013

To see for myself, I visited Lobo Plantation on 24 June 2014. I walked down those winding stairs to a basement decorated with emerald wall paper, framed portraits, rattan lamps, and dark wooden furniture. Everyone was in elated spirits celebrating the first birthday of the venue. The décor was reminiscent of the aristocratic opulence of prerevolutionary Cuba. It was a time when Cuba’s members of the upper class passed their time gambling in swanky casinos, watching extravagant shows at the Tropicana, and drinking rum cocktails at Ernest Hemmingway’s favourite haunt, La Floridita. Cuba was an exotic playground for foreigners as well. Everyone from celebrities to the American masses flocked there for a good time

In fact, Lobo Plantation was named after Cuba’s last sugar baron, Julio Lobo. He was a complex figure who on the one hand financed the glitziest hotels in the 1950’s, courted movie stars Joan Fontaine and Bette Davies and, filled a swimming pool in one of his estates with perfume for film star Ester Williams to swim in. On the other hand, he championed the rights of low-paid workers. In the end, he fled the revolution, leaving behind his palace, extensive art collection and vast fortune to live a quiet life in Madrid.

DJs Jeff Fellow and Paul Mant provided the hits while waitresses served canapés that were shipped in from The Food Society in Darlinghurst. Drinks served were the Red Stripe – Jamaican Lager Beer, the classic Daiquiri and the Old Grogram (which contains El Dorado Demerara Rum, cinnamon sugar, lemon and Lobo Stout Vermouth).

The event was attended by regulars, hospitality elites and rum importors/distributors such as rum distributors Quittin’ Time Pty Ltd and THINK SPIRITS. General Manager and co-owner, Jared Merlino, (former employee of Merivale) was at the helm to ensure the night was a success.

This bar may be reminiscent of a decadent and whirligig period of history in Cuba but its friendly service, delicious cocktails and staggering collection of rums will ensure that it does not all come abruptly to an end (as Julio Lobo’s fortune did with Fidel Castro)

To all those who gave me their business card on the night, I attended two events that night and misplaced them. Send me an email and I will send any photos you request. — at The Lobo Plantation

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The Stoned Crow 3rd Birthday Party

The Stoned Crow has come a long way since it first opened in 1956. It was a smoky dingy bar known as an easy pick-up joint. The last owners tried to transform it into a cocktail bar but failed to hit the mark. Three years ago the Darlin Group refurbished it, bringing back that old pub charm but also giving it that chic bar look typical of venues in the Eastern Suburbs. Today, it has more of a local community feel, attracting families, local business people and the young and hip.

The Stoned Crow celebrated its third year of becoming a Northshore hotspot on Tuesday 24 June 2014. Dj Mr Belvedere (who told me that he created his DJ name prior to Belvedere Vodka becoming popular) kept the tunes spinning all night, while celebrity illusionist Jack Black Magician added a touch of magic.

The kitchen supplied guest of events agency SIMON SAYS with chicken and beef sliders, pork and beef meatballs, whole chilli prawns, arancini balls, pizza (with toppings of duck, margarita, mushroom and chorizo) and Belgian chocolate scrolls. Drinks included red, white and sparkling wine, and a cocktail called, The Rocky Maivia Cocktail, which was made of AbsolutVodka, mixed berries, grapefruit and lemonade.

Celebrities in attendance were: South Sydney Rabbitohs footballer Tom Burgess sans his twin; The X Factor – Australia host Luke Jacobz; Home and Away Demi Harmen and Alec Snow; founders of the Social Club Simon Hancock and Thomas Popple; Australia’s Next Top Model Cycle 7 contestant Madeline Huett; and models Kris Conde Bolos, Stacey Keneally and Bree Robertson.

Goodie bags contained a CLEO MagazineWHITE GLO toothbrush and toothpaste, THE ICONIC 350ml spring water, a Stoned Crow free drink voucher, and a Stoned Crow Functions and Events brochure.

I will be keeping my eyes peeled for what magic the Darlin Group is going to weave with their next pub/bar venture. — at The Stoned Crow.

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Winter Festival Launch 2014 at Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour

Being a Sydney girl born and bred, I did not get a chance to experience any winter activities growing up. In fact, I have never experienced snow. The closest I ever got to snow was when my parents took me to St Moritz in Switzerland during the European summer when I was a teenager. On that trip, we travelled by train to Gornegrat from Zermatt for a good vantage point of the Matterhorn. The Matterhorn is the highest peak in the Alps and the most photographed mountain in Switzerland. On the ride up, I told these American tourists that I had never seen snow so, when we arrived, they suggested I make a snowball from the small puddles of ice that were yet to melt. I remember trying to form a ball with the dirty ice and feeling unconvinced. I looked up the Matterhorn (which still had snow on it) and thought to myself that this snow experience did not count.

Today, Sydneysiders don’t have to travel far to experience a European winter. On 18 June 2014, Winter Festivals Australia held a launch party at the Apres Skate Lounge at Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour, Sydney. The Winter Festival is aligned with Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority‘s Cool Yule which is running until 13 July 2014. Co-founders Martin Kratky and Christoph Doerfel have been organising this festival in Sydney since 2009. With the help of Popcorn X, guests got a real taste of winter by experiencing open-air ice-skating, watching a Fire On Ice Synchronized Skatingperformance, enjoying traditional winter culinary delights from the Alpine Village, listening to DJ Adam Camilleri from Oddular and being photographed with St Bernard dogs from the The Saint Bernard Club of NSW Inc.

Guests were served Gluhweim, Wild Brumby Schnapps, Lindt Chocolate Cafe Australia hot chocolate, Moët & Chandon Chandon, Oyster Bay red and white wine and a variety of beers. They were also provided with food from two establishments: Agape Organic Restaurant & Bar and Eat Art Truck. Agape Organic Restaurant & Bar supplied wagyu beef and vegetarian nachos, tofu or pork and prawn sang choy bao with peanut sauce, and chocolate spelt brownie with chocolate sauce and almond praline. Eat Art Truck served pulled pork in a bun with mustard cabbage and BB bourbon sauce, and eight hours slow roasted beef brisket in a bun with iceberg lettuce. Lindt Australiaalso provided macaroons and chocolates.

Celebrities in attendance were Channel Ten news presenter Tracey Spicer, Jack Kennedy and Australian fashion model Avril Alexander. There were also two ladies wearing Harmony & Lawson fur coats who looked the part but, as it turns out, they were the owners of the brand. Further, Uber were on hand to provide the celebrity feel chauffeur ride home free for up to $50 for all new Uber users who attend the Winter Festival.

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Seven Deadly Gins – World Gin Day at the Rook

The Rook Sydney celebrated World Gin Day with a week long ‘Seven Deadly Gins’ event that culminated with a party on Saturday 14 June 2014.

Guests tasted samples of the Rook’s seven deadly gins paired with tasty treats from the Rook’s kitchen while enjoying the sweet sounds of Motown live by Katie Wadey and The Radiators.

The seven deadly gin cocktails were:
1. Cucumber Gimlet – Martin Miller’s Gin, lime and cucumber
2. Four Pillars Gin and Tonic – Four Pillars Gin, orange cinnamon syrup, and tonic
3. Lavender Bee’s Knees – Aviation Gin, lavender honey and lemon
4. Tang-10 martini – Tanqueray 10, Noilly Prat (vermouth) and grapefruit
5. Werewolves of London – Beefeater Gin London 24, Orange Curacao, lemon, peach liqueur and frankincense
6. Pound for Pound – Tanqueray Gin, earl grey tea syrup, lemon orgeat
7. Florabotanica – The West Winds Gin, yuzu, rose, thyme, dandelion and burdock bitters.

No celebrities attended this event but my friend, Lyesther Collyer, posed for me wearing her new Stuck-Up jeans. Maybe one day she will be famous! — at The Rook

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Tod’s Launch at Westfield Sydney

It always surprised me how most luxury designer labels started from very humble beginnings to become companies of highly sought after products that symbolise wealth and exclusivity. The Italian luxury brand Tod’s is such an example. It was …started by cobbler Dorino Della Valle out of his basement in Marche, Italy in the late 1920s and expanded by his eldest son Diego Della Valle into a factory that manufactures handmade shoes for American department stores in 1970’s.

Since then, it has grown with numerous stores around the world including large flagship stores in Europe, USA, China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia. On 11 June 2014, Tod’s launched its first shore in Australia at Sydney’s Westfield. This boutique will be selling a wide range of Italian made Tod’s bag, shoes and accessories for both men and women.

At the launch, guests viewed the new season selection of shoes and handbags, while Stedmans Hospitality waiters served tasty treats prepared by Justin North and Ca’del Bosco champagne.

An Italian artisan, Laura Cherici, was flown in from Italy to demonstrate the craftmanship in making a pair of the label’s classic gommini loafers.

Celebrities of the night included actress Grace Huang, television host of The Mole Australia – The Amazing Game and The Great Outdoors Tom Williams, judge of Channel 10’s The Renovators (and former CEO of Sanofi Pty Ltd, Conde Nast and Monocle) Robyn Holt, actress Emma Lung, Channel 7 Australia‘s Fashion Stylist Donny Galella, NovaFM breakfast show presenter Michael “wippa” Wipfli, Carl Kapp models Amber Durney and Lorena Sanchez (who were incidentally wearing Carl Kapp), Channel Nine’s Today Show Australia co-host Lisa Wilkinson, Miss World – Australia finalist Regina MacKenzie, men’s fashion blogger Christopher Haggarty, and my lovely friend Ron Basto (who is a lawyer, not a celebrity).

A lot of praise goes to the Tod’s Hong Kong team, Ytd. Pty Ltd and Hush Communications for putting on such a great event.

Even if founder Dorino Della Valle had lofty aspirations for his brand (which I am sure he wouldn’t have), he would have never imagined a store opening in Sydney some 80 years later with such lavish interiors. Nor would he have imagined an array of guests who were every bit as glamorous as the brand.


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Casablanca Bar Double Bay Winter Soiree

Casablanca Bar Double Bay held a Winter Soiree party on the 8 June 2014 (Queen’s Birthday long weekend). The Belvedere Vodka sponsored event included free Belvedere Vodka cocktails, canapes and an ice sculpture.

Even though the freebies did not last all night and a cover charge of $25 was incurred by patrons who came later, the good-looking 20-somethings of the Eastern Suburbs still lined up to have a good time. What can I say? This place does not need a party to attract a good crowd. — at Casablanca Bar Double Bay.

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Enter Live @ The COTA Gallery

The last time I went to a bar (where I was not attending an event) a group of corporate guys approached my married friend and I and bought us drinks. Soon after the conversation started, the guy who showed an interest in me decided to remove his shirt and suggest I go home with him. At that point, I did not know whether to be more shocked with his forwardness or embarrassed by his toplessness. When I informed him I was not going to do that, he told me I was high-maintenance, a princess, and suggested I go home because I am boring. Being continuously disappointed with the quality of men in bars, I got up and left. My married friend who had left (quite annoyed) a few minutes earlier told me that his friends had asked her whether she had cheated on her husband and when she told them she hadn’t, asked whether she would consider it.

On 6 June 2014 I attended the first Enter Live event held at the COTA Gallery in Surry Hills. Enter Live is the brainchild of Adam Walmsley and Oscar Narvaez. It is a mix between a club, bar and house party held in unique locations around Sydney. The aim is to bring friends together to enjoy good music without the entrance fee of getting into a bar, adhering to certain dress standards, lining-up for drinks, lockouts, and sleazy one-night stand men. These invitation only events allow invitees to bring their friends along. Once these friends are introduced to the group and trusted, they are invited to the next event where they can bring their own friends.

Adam Walmsley has been involved in music production and DJing for more than five years. His first success was in 2008 with an electro house group called Destroy Disco. They released records and remixes on record labels around the world including Dj A-Trak’s (One half of Duck Sauce) label Fools Gold, Secure Recordings, Southern Fried and Australian labels Klub Kids and an array of others. Adam then went on to produce music under his solo guise Adamwah. His taste in house music flows towards the deeper end of the spectrum. He has had various remixes and original records released consistently since 2010.

Oscar Narvaez has music running through his veins. He spent time in the US learning his DJing craft before returning to Australia and performing under the name Oscar de Lima. His style is nothing but groovy, solid, no fuss house music. He plays regularly around Sydney and has been producing some really solid music.

At the event, attendees drank wine, mingled and danced at the COTA Gallery while admiring the art of the talented Lauren Webster. Courtesy of the Artist (COTA) also has a shop (in addition to the gallery) in The Strand Arcade in Sydney and they specialise in one off handmade jewellery.

Enter Live will be throwing these intimate parties regularly around Sydney in locations where most people would not think to party at: think rooftops, art galleries, cafés, record stores, bike shops and warehouses. The sky’s the limit! Enter Live’s next invitation only event will be held at Burdekin Hotel on 28 June 2014.

If events like this take-off, the girls of Sydney will have an avenue for meeting guys away from the sleaziness of the bar and clubs scene. — at COTA Gallery, 10B Fitzroy Place, Surry Hills NSW 2010

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Central Park Sydney

The address of 28 Broadway, Chippendale (now Central Park Sydney) was the site of the Carlton United Brewery where my grandfather spent the last years of his brewing career. As a child, I remember my grandfather bringing dad a box of beer whenever he visited. As an adult (studying communications at the University of Technology Sydney), I remember wondering what it said about the university having a brewery as its nearest neighbour.

Today the sour smell of beer and old walls of the brewery are gone. The heritage buildings inside have been preserved and blended into a mixed used urban renewal development of residential, commercial and retail space (including approximately 900 student dwellings). The 5.8 hectare Carlton United Brewery site is now called Central Park Sydney

On 5 June 2014, I visited One Central Park, an apartment complex with a shopping centre called Central on the lower levels. It is located directly opposite the University of Technology Sydney tower. There were three events on that night. On the ground floor, The 7mm Pitch – Central’s Digital Wall Curatorial Programme, was being launched. University of Sydney students had developed a series of short films for World Environment Day. These films were being displayed on a supersized digital wall and students were served drinks, sushi and hamburgers while watching them.

On level three, there is approximately 1,000sqms of space available to be used as a gallery, workspace for visual artists, creative retail, events and rehearsals for performing artists. That evening, one of the spaces was being used to display the photography exhibition of two artists: Keiko Goto’s Four Seasons in Sakhalim and Manfred Krautschneider’s Suburban Reflections: Past, Present and Future.

In another space, Creatives Uncovered where working in collaboration with the launch of Skrilled MagazineCreatives Uncovered supports start up businesses by helping with marketing and the raising of brand awareness. Guests drank FNQ Lager and sangria, listened to music by Krystie Erickson, viewed artwork by Raquel Schwaerzler, admired photography by Claudine Khoury, touched sculptures and art by Bridget Leslie and watched a live model installation.

With the increased gentrification of the area and the inclusion of cultural spaces in the development, the future of the southern fringe of the CBD certainly looks bright. — at Central Park Sydney

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