• Bar

We spoke to Kayla Reid from Melbourne’s new destination cocktail bar Nick & Nora’s, who provided some expert drink mixing tips to impress your guests. 

Tip 1: Forage for local produce 

Forage in your local area for fresh herbs, edible flowers and other ingredients to add to your cocktails, punches and spritzes. Citrus is everywhere around Melbourne: lemons, limes, mandarins, oranges, you name it. Foraging also means sustainable, spray-free ingredients, and saving on costs. 

Tip 2: What to avoid when preparing for a party of 10 or more 

Work smarter not harder, avoid doing lots of individual serves and make drinks in large batches/carafes/punch bowls, adding ice to glassware as you go. Adding ice to the mix will dilute your recipe, and the flavour.  

Tip 3: Always have a delicious non-alcoholic option 

Verjuice is a god send when it comes to non-alcoholic drinks, it brings a level of acidity and bite. Pair it with a simple fruit or berry syrup and some citrus and you’re good to go.  

Tip 4: Hero local spirits and liqueurs  

We are lucky here in Melbourne to have a few great distilleries nearby. It’s great to be able to actually go to the distillery and see the step by step process and the love that goes into these products. Of course, when it comes to gin you can’t go past Four Pillars, their navy strength is a definite favourite of mine. When it comes to Australian whisky, Starward has made a big name for themselves and their passion for experimental releases always gets me excited, you never know what you’re gonna get. We use their Two-Fold in one of our menu drinks, The True Detective, and it’s one of our biggest sellers. 

Tip 5: Five key ingredients for a winning punch 

When it comes to building punches, look at spirit, citrus, water or some form of dilution, sweetener and spice. Pick your booze of choice, gin or rum work great. You can use a simple sugar syrup as a sweetener or a liqueur such as apricot brandy or creme de mure, your favourite citrus, wack some bubbles in and if you’re feeling fancy throw in some cinnamon quills or star anise. Also, some fresh fruit never goes astray. 

Kayla is an award-winning bartender, and the designer of Nick & Nora’s cocktail menu. Before Nick & Nora’s, she ran Brisbane’s widely acclaimed cocktail and spirits bar, Savile Row.  

When you get tired of hosting, you might prefer to ask Kayla to shake up some of Nick & Nora’s signature drinks for you, or perhaps pour some French champagne from their 50+ strong list from the world’s most renowned champagne houses. 

The bar brings the golden era of enchanting and indulgent post-prohibition soirees to Melbourne’s contemporary dining and cocktail scene, with a name inspired by the fictional murder solving duo, Nick & Nora Charles, from Dashiell Hammett’s novel The Thin Man.  

Nick & Nora’s is located on 80 Collins laneway Benson Walk, between Little Collins and Collins Streets. Online bookings are highly recommended, but if your time slot isn’t available, they also accept walk-ins.