Masterclass: Pasan Wijesena, Earl’s Juke Joint

Having been featured in Time Out Sydney’s 2016 Craft Spirit Guide, it made sense to visit the bartender who mixed up our featured drink – Time Out Sydney 2015 Bartender of the Year Pasan Wijesena.


Pasan owns and runs Earl’s Juke Joint in Newtown, a cocktail bar tucked behind the doors of an old Eastern European butcher. Easy to walk past by day, it comes alive at night, when it mixes up some of Sydney’s best cocktails in a relaxed and unpretentious way.


For the 2016 Craft Spirit Guide, Pasan mixed up an Ink Gin Tom Collins – very refreshing it showcases the the citrus flavours of Ink Gin. The next time we visited Earl’s Pasan wanted to show us something new.

First on the bill was a London Calling with Ink Gin. This cocktail was originally invented at Milk & Honey, one of the best cocktail bars in London. It is one of the only cocktails to have stayed on their ever-changing cocktail list.


‘Think of a refreshing, dry, nutty, gin daquiri,’ Pasan said.

London Calling

  • 40ml Ink Gin
  • 20ml Fino sherry
  • 20ml fresh lemon juice
  • 20ml sugar syrup
  • dash of orange bitters

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice and shake well. Strain into a 150ml wine glass and garnish with grapefruit zest and a twist.

‘Ink Gin definitely catches people’s eye – if one person orders it, others invariably ask about it or want to try it as well. Our guests like that the floral infusion is 100% natural as well – it’s an easy sell,’  Pasan told me as he mixed up the London Calling.

‘A growing number of our guests like supporting well made local spirits and being educated about bespoke brands. I think it’s a natural progression for a country thats known for its quality produce as well as wine and beer making.  A cocktail bar is a good place to try premium, hard-to-find craft spirits. I see the growth of the craft spirits industry directly as a result of the increase in quality small, cocktail focused venues too, run by owners who care about what they are pouring.’


The London Calling was deliciously nutty and dry, and a touch sour as well – perfect for those who don’t fancy too-sweet cocktails.

Next up was The Second Last Word – a twist on the prohibition-era classic, The Last Word.

The Second Last Word

  • 20ml Ink Gin
  • 20ml yellow chartreuse
  • 20ml Luxardo Maraschino
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • Barspoon Pernod absinthe

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice and shake well. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a cherry.


The Second Last Word was delicious – really well balanced with a lovely bite to it from the absinthe. 

There it is – some classic drink ideas with an fresh new twist. Head down to Earl’s Juke Joint for a couple of late night tipples – and ask for an Ink Gin, of course!

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