Masterclass: Sam Curtis, Harvest

Masterclass with Sam Curtis, Harvest

Written by Harriet Messenger 

The tiny town of Newrybar is a short 15 minute drive from Byron Bay and is home to one of our favourite restaurants in the Northern Rivers – Harvest. With a kitchen garden, a deli, a bakery, a focus on local produce and an incredibly well stocked bar, Harvest Restaurant is an award winner that focuses on ‘casual elegance’.

We spent an afternoon with bar manager Sam Curtis for some cocktail tips, delighted to find  the signature Harvest 75, featuring Ink Gin as the hero, on the mouth watering cocktail list.

Extending  the restaurant ethos of ‘local, seasonal, sustainable & fresh’ into beverages from the bar, Sam found the majority of ingredients for the Harvest 75 around the North Coast of NSW.

The Harvest 75 is a play on the French 75. Behold the recipe;

Harvest, Newrybar

Harvest, Newrybar

Harvest 75

  • 30ml Ink Gin
  • 20ml fresh lemon juice
  • 15ml Halliday Farm Tonic Syrup
  • 5ml Tilly’s Farm Bush Lemon Limoncello
  • 30ml Australian Prosecco
  • Dried lemon wheel glazed with Tasmanian pepper berry (full recipe below)

This cocktail is an excellent appetiser, well balanced and an instant favourite. ‘It took about 20 goes to get the quantities of the Harvest 75 right,’ Sam said. ‘It started off too bitter because of the tonic syrup, so balancing that with the limoncello took a bit of experimenting.’

The base of the cocktail is gin, lemon and tonic syrup, which work together to bring out a botanical tartness in the drink. The limoncello is added for sweetness, and the bubbles are added for texture, ‘to give the idea of tonic bubbles and to make the drink pop’. The lemon juice also ensures that the pH of the drink is low enough to change the butterfly pea flower infusion in Ink Gin to a soft pink.

Sam shakes the Ink, lemon juice, tonic syrup and limoncello over ice and pours it into a tall champagne glass, before topping with Prosecco. Then comes the garnish.

For me a drink is naked without garnish, and Sam also lives by this philosophy.  ‘A garnish should not just be an embellishment – it should be an integral part of the drink,’ he tells me.

Pepperberry Glazed Lemon

  • Dehydrated lemon wheel
  • Sugar syrup
  • Ground Tasmanian pepper berry

Sam mixes together the sugar syrup with a healthy pink of pepper berry and immerses thin slices of lemon into the mixture. He leaves them to soak for about 15 minutes until the lemons are slightly pink. Then he puts the lemons on a tray with baking paper and glazes the slices with the left over syrup. The lemons go into a dehydrator for 24 hours. Alternatively you can use a conventional oven on very low for 5-6 hours.

This garnish is genius for several reasons. Pepperberry is a key botanical in Ink Gin, giving a long peppery finish. The peppery berry powder is also pH sensitive, like the floral infusion in Ink, and turns pink on contact with the lemon. The garnish brings the whole drink together, and Sam encourages everyone to munch into it as they sip rather than leave it on the side of their glass. It’s deliciously sour, bitter and tart, just like the cocktail.

Photo courtesy of Harvest.

Photo courtesy of Harvest.

Also on the menu at Harvest is an Ink Gin Sour. Sam uses home made rose geranium bitters in the Ink Gin Sour.  At Harvest, Sam makes all his own bitters. ‘For a bartender, bitters are like salt and pepper. They complete the drink and make a huge difference.’

The hugely popular Harvest Restaurant is open every day for lunch and dinner, as well as weekend breakfasts.

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