Regal Rogue and the Low Alcohol Cocktail Trend
Low alcohol cocktails are here, they are here to stay and we sat down with Mark Ward, creator of Regal Rouge to have a look at what these can do to benefit your bar.
Last year we were lucky enough to head to Sydney with Bacardi Legacy, it was a stomping ground for us for 6 years (when we first met Mark) so we were excited to see how the bar scene had changed. The Sydney bar scene was, in a word, unrecognisable, the previously bar barren CBD now hosted the cities coolest spots and bartenders had taken over the previously cash rich job of owning venues.
One of the big trends we noticed in almost every bar we visited was the influx of low alcohol cocktails. Drinks list on the whole were refreshingly dialled down with only a handful of drinks often listed and, despite it being winter (well as wintery as it ever gets), low alcoholic options were proudly displayed. Whether it be at Bulletin Place with it’s daily changing menu always featuring a low ABV option or at This Must Be The Place with half the menu dedicated to the refreshing spritz style drinks.
Australia is now firmly a part of the world that bartenders need to look at for the latest trends and whilst it has often been the realm of Melbourne, Sydney can no longer be ignored. Low alcoholic cocktails are not to be overlooked where better to start than vermouth.
Regal Rogue, for those unfamiliar with the brand, is the brain child of UK born and Australian based bartender turned booze producer Mark ‘Wardy’ Ward. The idea was simple, Australia produces some of the best wine in the world so surely it should also produce some amazing vermouths, especially when you consider all of the local aromatics that can be called on to give them a unique and interesting flavour profile.
The range also contain 30% less sugar than traditional vermouths making them a semi-dry aperitif and well suited to being used as replacement for the main spirit in everything from a Gin & Tonic to a Negroni.
Using the Regal Rogue range we are going to take a look at some of the serves that Mark has come up with to inspire you to get creative with some low alcoholic serves in your own bars.
What Wardy says: Regal Rogue Daring Dry is an extra-dry Aperitif, led by savoury and light salty notes creating a umami finish. Marrying a grassy Sauvignon Blanc from South Australia with native Anise Myrtle, Quandong and Native Thyme and followed by white pepper, gentian, olive leaf and juniper. Ideal over ice with an olive or caper berry or a truly dripping wet Martini. This is the ideal tipple for anyone with a chefs palette…!
Suggested serve: The simple fact is not everyone can knock back 3 martini’s and still function (or indeed have control over their bodily functions) but it is still a drink that consumers gravitate to. Now admittedly this on paper may not be strictly speaking a low alcoholic cocktail but it is certainly a much more approachable and drinkable martini.
What Wardy says: Regal Rogue Lively White is a semi-dry Aperitif, bursting with citrus and floral notes. Marrying a Hunter Valley Semillon with native Lemon myrtle, Desert limes, Finger limes and Native Thyme with elderflower, lemongrass, grapefruit and chamomile. This is the ideal Aperitif served neat over ice with lemon or lime or long with Tonic, lime and a scent of Rosemary. Summer nights and lazy afternoons!
Suggested serve: Lively White lends itself expertly to being swapped with gin in light refreshing summery cocktails. For us the simple serve over ice with tonic, lemon, lime (and if you are feeling in the mood rosemary) is a great alternative to a Gin & Tonic.
What Wardy says: Regal Rogue Wild Rose is a semi-dry Aperitif, led by tropical fruit and fruit spice notes. Marrying a Shiraz Rose blush from the Adelaide Hills and native illawara plums, Rosella and Strawberry gum with Rhubarb and Kina. Best quaffed over ice or in a refreshing Spritzer with a fresh lemon wedge and mint sprig. The RR Wild Rose stands up to most spirits and even adds to a classic Negroni as a twist to a sweet red vermouth.
Suggested serve: It is difficult to look at low alcoholic cocktails without at least flirting with a spritz and Wild Rose is so firmly up that street it’s got squatters rights. So why not try Wild Rose over ice with sparkling wine, a lemon wedge and mint sprig to kick start an afternoon session.
What Wardy says: Regal Rogue Bold Red is one of the world’s first dry Red vermouths (a semi-dry Aperitif) led by aromatic spice and rich dried fruit. Marrying a Hunter Valley Semillon with Barossa Valley Shiraz with native Pepper berry, Wattle seed and Native Thyme followed by Cinnamon, clove, star anise, nutmeg and ginger. This is ideal neat over ice with an orange wedge or long with ginger beer, orange and a sprig of mint. More depth and the ideal dark spirits match!
Suggested serve: This is where, for us, it gets really interesting as Bold Red can be used as a substitute for some of our (and probably your) favourite classics. So grab your favourite Manhattan or Martinez recipe and swap out the whiskey or gin for Bold Red, you may have to tinker a little with your ratio’s but you will find yourself with a great looking, great tasting alternative to the booze heavy classics we’re used to. As you are bartenders it would be churlish of us to not include a Negroni twist for you so swap the gin for Bold Red and the Campari for Aperol and thank us later.
These are of course simply suggestions to get you thinking, there is nothing more fun than playing around and try getting those low alcoholic options on your menus. A word of warning though, don’t go trying to charge the same for a vermouth led Negroni or whatever low alcohol option you create, charge less, get the same GP and give your customers more choice when they are sitting in your bar.