Scottish-born Cara Devine, Bar Manager at Melbourne’s Bomba Tapas Bar & Rooftop, enjoys sharing her passion and knowledge for the drinks she creates and pours. We chat to Cara about her craft.
Can you tell us about the drinks concept we can expect to find at Bomba Tapas Bar & Rooftop?
While we like to have something for everyone at Bomba Rooftop, everything we do ties in with the kitchen ethos by putting an Aussie twist on Spanish aperitif-style drinks. Being a rooftop, we like to keep things light, spritzy and fun!
Can you tell us about your background?
I have worked in hospitality since I was 16 but after graduating from university I realised I wanted to pursue bartending as a career. l enjoy the interaction with guests and the creativity that you don't get in a lot of jobs. I have worked in a variety of high-end venues both in Canada and Scotland, and here in Melbourne as well. I love learning about cocktails and techniques and passing on that knowledge where possible!
What would you make one of our readers if they walked up to the bar and placed their trust in your recommendation?
I always ask a few questions before recommending something,
as people’s tastes vary so much! I ask if there is anything they definitely
don't like and then try to figure out their flavour profile by asking if they
like something boozy and bitter, citrusy and tart or fruity and a little
sweeter. That said, I love to sneak some sherry into drinks where I can as it’s
something a lot of people aren't familiar with, so the London Calling is a go-to
for me as it mixes up gin, lemon and orange bitters with a dry fino sherry.
It’s really approachable but something a little bit different too!
What ingredients for your cocktails are you particularly enjoying working with at the moment?
I love using fresh herbs to brighten a cocktail. Something as simple as a sprig of sage in our Bomba Bellini really enhances the peach and pear flavours in the drink and gives it a whole other dimension and a bit of a wintery twist. It's my handy hint for elevating drinks at home – look at a flavour thesaurus for some ideas for interesting garnishes to enhance the flavours in your G&T, for example!
What is your all-time favourite classic, and what twist would you add that would maintain its integrity, whilst introducing your take on it?
Honestly, I'll drink most things! But the one I go back to time and time again is the gin martini – there's a reason it’s a classic! I will usually have mine 'wet' though, which is the opposite of 'dry' in this instance (it doesn't mean sweet, it just means more vermouth). There are some really interesting vermouths out there at the moment, so it’s fun to highlight them as well as the gin. Pop on a citrus twist and it's the perfect aperitif! It's a little less booze-heavy than a dry martini as well, so you can definitely have two before dinner ...