The rule of thumb is to find wine to match the dish, right? Wrong! Or at least not for Project Botanicals, a collaboration between Bombay Sapphire’s NZ ambassador Chase Bickerton and top chef Mark Southon. Forget wine and beer, this is first and foremost about cocktails followed by scrumptious food.
Chase obviously has a thing for making great drinks and, inspired by the ten botanicals used in Bombay Sapphire, he, along with some cool friends (like James Millar from The Gin Room) came up with cocktail recipes you’ll love. There’s the Casablanca Cocktail—it’s based on the coriander seeds used in making the famous gin. With pineapple juice (freshly squeezed of course), a touch of Domaine De Canton, lime juice, coriander syrup, Bombay Sapphire and served up with a sliver of mint, it’s both delicious and beautiful.
But there’s so much more! Chase and Mark have been friends since Mark was a chef at The French Café, and says they used to challenge each other with ideas and techniques. So it was only natural that Chase would go to him and say, ‘make some dishes!’, and the newly appointed head chef of O’Connell St Bistro got to work.
That Casablanca Cocktail? Mark created a sausage roll to match…a what? Yeah, don’t be thinking meat dregs wrapped in pastry, that party staple so loved by Kiwis. Oh no. This is Fiordland crayfish with mojo chutney and charged pineapple. Seriously delicious. The result? A cocktail and dish that go together like pepper and salt. Love and marriage. You get the idea.
Repeat this scenario an incredible ten times and you have Project Botanicals. Some may have you shaking your head in confusion. Mushroom and liquorice root in a cocktail? We thought so, too. Turns out we were wrong: it’s a deep and warming cocktail named Flipetty Do Da and, when served with its pairing dish of butterscotch pannacotta with textures of caramel, the result is a piece of heaven. Take a sip here, take a bite there, and feel the flavours and textures change and develop. So delish.
Open for two weeks only, head along to James in Parnell for a romantic date (the fairy lights and sweeping tent-like roof makes it feel magical) or grab a table for four.
Tickets include two dishes and their matching cocktails, but don’t worry, you can always top up while you’re there.
What: Project Botanicals
Where: James, 18 Stanley St, Parnell
When: 11th November to 22nd November
Get tickets: Here
Want more places to find a great cocktail in Auckland? Check out our 30 Bars You Should Have Been To If You Live In Auckland
Image credit: Anna Kidman