26 May

Spiritual Guide: Interview with Arun Rogers

A new guide for spiritual enlightenment by the pious team at Glengarry. Join us monthly as we explore everything spirit related. View the full issue online here.

Interview: Arun Rogers

“Mixology” is an interesting word. It takes the idea of mixing drinks and approaches it as an art. A Science. Arun Rogers, of Auckland bar 1885, recently won the East Imperial Gin Jubilee cocktail competition, so we’ve asked him all about his experience, his approach to mixing and what made his winning cocktail so special.

1. Where did the name “Message in a Bottle” come from?

I themed the cocktail around the Gin and Tonic’s origin in British colonialism, and this idea of explorers and adventurers discovering the world and all the flavours and ingredients bartenders get to play with. And once you’ve found something awesome you want to play with, you want to bring it home with you, and use it to add something new to what you’ve been creating. Message in a Bottle is just that thing you send home from far off lands, that little something new you’ve discovered that can change the whole way you do things. I think it fits with East Imperial’s philosophy, a brand that scoured the world for the best ingredients so they could help consumers reimagine the way they think about mixers. Plus, big Police fan.

2. What’s your super hero origin story of becoming a master cocktail maker?

I worked at T2 for a couple of years, and got really into blending and experimenting with tea based creations. I left to work at 1885 as a glassy about a year ago, worked my way up to bartender. Mostly I just drink a lot.

3. How did the recipe for Message in a Bottle come together?

I knew I wanted to use Beefeater 24, which made Burma Tonic the natural choice. I was leaning on the origin of the GnT in British colonialism, so I went with the classic 19th Century Pink Gin and Tonic style, which means adding something bitter. Aperol gave me an awesome colour and the orange pushed the citrus in Beefeater even further. Tea is another ingredient that worked with my theme (and I love tea) so a tea syrup seemed the way to go. A blend of black teas that added depth and astringency was a bit more interesting than just sugar.

4. What is your favourite cocktail to make, and what is your favourite cocktail to drink?

I love making Tiki drinks, because I can go nuts with garnishes and then just set the whole thing on fire, so Zombies and Scorpions. Basically anything with lots of booze that I can set on fire I’m going to enjoy. You can’t go wrong with a good Caipirinha, lots of lime, not too much sugar.

5. What do you love about Gin? What does it lend to cocktails that other spirits don’t?

I think the huge range of flavours that are possible with gin is what makes it so cool. You can go from citrus to floral, dry to sweet, spicy to soft and basically anything else, and there are new products coming into the market all the time. It means a constant source of inspiration for what new flavours and techniques to add to your cocktails, and a huge amount of information to study in learning about what flavours work together.

6. Do you have anything else that you’d like to say?

Can’t keep saying this often enough but big thanks to my 1885 family for supporting me during Gin Jubilee, and to everyone who voted, encouraged, tried my drink and was just generally great. Thanks to East Imperial too for running such an awesome competition, and to Glengarry for having me in Spiritual Guide!

As told to Chesney McDonald