British-born bartending maven Jason Crawley co-owns Sydney’s Fortunate Son and runs the Simple Syrup Co. He shares the secrets of Sydney, and a Black Tears cocktail too.
Since moving to Australia in the year 2000, Briton Jason Crawley has built up quite the reputation. His drinks innovations run from the Imperial Shaker cocktail machine, on display in New Orleans’ Museum of the American Cocktail, to his own range of syrups, The Simple Syrup Co. He co-owns the Fortunate Son bar in Enmore, Sydney, and was recognized with an outstanding contribution award by Australian Bartender magazine.
While Australia seems close to winning its Covid battle, the restrictions of the new normal are a real struggle for Crawley right now. The theatre across the street from his bar was shut during the Covid peak, and Fortunate Son’s capacity has been reduced from 76 guests to just 12. “Commercially speaking, it’s tough, because the landlords haven’t been mandated to support businesses,” he says. “So it’s just every man for himself, unfortunately.”
MIXING WITH BLACK TEARS — THE SYDNEY WAY
The Double Black Flip
45ml Black Tears Dry Spiced
1 whole Egg
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake without ice. Add ice, shake again and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
Crawley finds Black Tears much drier than older generation spiced rums, which suits an Australian audience that prefers drier flavours and is health-conscious around sugar. “It’s also spiced nicely from a spiced rum perspective, because it finishes with masses and masses of that nice coffee flavour,” he says.
To create his cocktail, Crawley wanted to avoid the obvious choices of a sour, an Old-Fashioned style cocktail, or a coffee-based mix. “We wanted to do something that’s a little bit different and a bit of a nod to rum’s past,” he says. “Flips are the best part of 400 years old, so we just wanted to tip our hat in that direction.”
JASON CRAWLEY’S SYDNEY TOP TEN
Where’s the best place to drink rum in Sydney?
There’s a place called The Lobo with a vast collection of rums. It’s one of those great bars where it’s transportation: When you walk in, you instantly go down into a subterranean world with no reference to the outdoor world, no windows, no sense of time. The bartenders are super-friendly, it’s really comfortable, the lighting is fantastic and the music’s great.
Where should we go for a drink with a view?
The Opera Bar in Circular Quay. You’re literally sitting on the steps of the Opera House there, and they’ve lifted their game from a drinks perspective as well. From a view perspective it’s pretty remarkable.
What hidden bars do we have to hit?
Baxter Inn would be one: you go down some horrible stairs past a lot of beer crates and through this kind of rickety door and suddenly you’re greeted with this awesome saloon style subterranean tunnel vibe and a display of all their whiskies from all over the world. And the second one would be Shady Pines, the first speakeasy bar in Sydney and the original and the best, in my humble opinion. They do cans of beer and shots of whiskey and transport you into the myth of a saloon bar in frontier times, and it’s just a great time.
Where do off-duty bartenders go after they finish their shift?
A lot of them go to a bar in the city called Old Mate’s Place that’s got a real industry following. It’s a speakeasy style bar and I think it’s still open quite late.
Where should we go for coffee, and why?
You have to check out The Grounds, it’s a coffee emporium that’s the fourth most Instagrammed thing in Australia. They’ve created this incredible experiential restaurant/coffee place, an oasis in the middle of Alexandria. It used to be a barren, industrial place but now you’ve got this incredible garden and patios everywhere and an open kitchen, and you can do courses. They created their own aesthetic which has had a massive influence on interior design across the whole country: You’re in this Willy Wonka world of wonder.
What’s a typical Sydney dish that we should try, and where should we eat it?
Black Star Pastry do a watermelon cake which is a huge Instagram thing. It’s incredibly popular and it’s made a huge impact on the city, so it’s definitely one of those must-do things.
Where should we take a selfie?
The Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk is one of the most iconic places obviously. You’re looking out onto the Pacific over the cliff edge, with the ocean smashing against everything and spectacular scenery and lots of little things to look at along the way.
Where’s the best street art in Sydney?
Enmore is our street art capital. You literally can’t put a point on the map that hasn’t got graffiti on it.
What’s an activity we should do in Sydney?
Since we’re a harbour city, I think getting on the Manly Ferry is a must do. It gets you out onto Sydney Harbour without having to invest in a boat.
And what’s a signature Sydney experience?
Go for a steak and a martini at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar on the south end of Bondi. That’s probably one of the most breathtaking restaurants that anybody could go anywhere around the world. It’s right on the water with incredible food and drinks from Maurice Terzini, and it gets all the celebrities and the rich and famous. If you get a bluebird day that’s probably one of the most incredible things you could ever do, from a food and drinks perspective.