Recently I went to Melbourne and spent most of my time partaking in the great food and bar culture the city has to offer. The first stop on my whirlwind visit was Hells Kitchen on a recommendation from my brother and the bar didn’t disappoint.
Located upstairs in Centre Place its quite a small bar with a really good vibe that was aided by being quite busy. We sat at the long table over looking the laneway down below and it gave a good view of the street art that has been done over the roller doors of the various businesses. I felt like I may not have been cool enough to remain in the bar, what with its eclectic mix of furniture that may have come from your grandparents garage and funky wallpaper but then I had a drink and didn’t give a shit.
The drink that caught my eye was the housemade, infused vodkas. Each bottle of 666 Vodka was loaded up with either vanilla, cinnamon, honey and ginger or chilli. It was great to see them not only using an Australian sourced vodka, but to also see the huge amounts of vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, ginger husks and chillies in the bottles. It did beg the question though, what was the best mixer to have with each of the infused spirits? Luckily the bartender was able to help out and I sampled the honey and ginger with soda water, cinnamon with apple juice and lime, and vanilla with ginger ale and lime. Sadly I didn’t get a chance to try the chilli vodka, I’d be very curious to know what they suggest with that, but I’m sure I’ll get a chance again soon.
Of the three the honey and ginger with soda water was my least favorite. I don’t know whether there was too much ice or soda water was the wrong choice or the infusion wasn’t quite right because it was a bit meh. While it was easy to drink, as the soda water mellowed out the alcohol, it just lacked a bit of punch. I was expecting some big ginger flavor as well and it just didn’t happen.
The vanilla with ginger ale and lime seemed like an odd mix at first, but actually worked quite well. The mix of the vanilla and ginger ale was very smooth. You ended up with a strong and long lasting vanilla aftertaste which is what I was hoping you’d get with the honey and ginger.
The best mix though was the cinnamon with apple juice and lime. It was literally like taking a big bite of apple pie. Sweet, sweet alcoholic apple pie. The flavors combined so well together and the spice flavor of the cinnamon was strong but not overpowering. I tip my hat to the bartender for an excellent recommendation on that one. I think I’ll be buying some vodka, cinnamon sticks and apple juice very shortly so I can enjoy some more of that at home.