EMBRACING sustainable practices has become the new norm at Voco Kirkton Park in Pokolbin.
An integral part of making that happen is the hotel's kitchen garden, which grows produce to create the dishes for the resort's Locavore restaurant and even serves to supply the botanicals for cocktails on the menu in the Epoche Bar.
The bar recently added six signature sustainable cocktails to the menu, each inspired by an element that is grown or produced on-site: honey, rosemary, chilli, lavender, rose and mint.
Each spirit on the menu is sourced as locally as possible, from distillers such as Murray's at Bobs Farm, The Farmers Wife Distillery at Allworth, Erina's Distillery Botanica, Hunter Valley Distillery in Pokolbin, and Newcastle Distilling Co.
"A sustainable cocktail to me is leveraging the immediate local products, so the botanicals showcase an aspect of the region and mixing that in a unique way to give that produce a key point of difference," Voco Kirkton Park sales and marketing director Caleb Morris says. "To me it's about working locally as much as we can. Essentially each of the cocktails are named uncomplicated, with just the hero botanical that we source from our estate."
The honey cocktail uses produce fresh from the estate's colony of 200,000 bees, paired with Distillery Botanica's Mr Black Coffee Amaro and Murray's vodka to create the cold drip espresso martini, while the syrup for the rose cocktail is created from the 300 rose plants throughout the property.
One of the most popular is the chilli cocktail that combines chilli from the garden which is dehydrated for 48 hours and blended with salt to create a chilli salt that is served with the Mr Black and a splash of tequila over ice.
"We actually developed that one off the back of the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, so when that was in town earlier this year we decided that weekend to create a signature cocktail that had chilli as the hero of the drink," Morris says.
"It was really quite popular, so it stuck around. We grow the chilli on site, so why don't we make this chilli salt a regular thing and that's how it came about."
In keeping with the commitment to support local growers, the wine list also predominantly Hunter-made.
"The road that we are on and the local neighbourhood has some really great wineries, and up-and-coming wine producers like Usher Tinkler and Iron Gate Estate," Morris says.
"Those guys were starting to send their wine to Sydney and getting placed in some top restaurants, and their own backyard wasn't giving the same homage.
"So we decided to broaden that approach, one from a wine menu point of venue but then to broaden that to the distillers and making sure we were crafting what they have produced in a really unique way."
- Epoche Lounge Bar, Voco Kirkton Park, 336 Oakey Creek Road, Pokolbin. 11am until late daily.
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