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My Melbourne: Braden Hargreaves

26 Sep 2017

Braden Hargreaves from QT gives us the lowdown on cocktails with a view.

Like many Sydneysiders before him, Barden Hargreaves was unable to resist the lure of Melbourne’s thriving scene. “I grew up in Sydney, but Melbourne was always one of my favourite holiday destinations,” says QT’s assistant bars manager.

Having previously worked in the construction industry, Braden realised he’d really rather be mixing drinks and began working at QT Sydney.

“From there, I had several great mentors and it made me fall in love with hospitality,” he says. “I realised it was a career I wanted to be in.

“There are a variety of different jobs that exist within bartending — from working in a hotel, restaurant or nightclub to catering and events. There’s also a creative side to the business, where you’re always experimenting and on the lookout for the next drink trend. The job also allows you to travel pretty much anywhere in the world.”

But Braden didn’t want to be just anywhere in the world. He craved Melbourne, and it proved the perfect career move.

“Nothing compares to Melbourne’s hospitality scene. You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to finishing a late-night shift and going somewhere for a night cap, or a decent feed — there are so many great options.”

QT has quickly become one of Melbourne’s favourite hotels and venues, but it’s not just the patrons who value the sweeping views, chilled vibe and unique cocktail combinations.

“Working on The Rooftop at QT, I’d like to think I’ve got the best seat in the house with a view overlooking Melbourne’s city skyline,” says Braden of the contemporary space with indoor and outdoor seating, a classy crowd and jaw-dropping views. “I’m also lucky enough to work alongside a passionate team who I call my good mates.

“Everyone is encouraged to explore their creative side at QT. We’re known for mixing classics and variations with a QT twist. One of my creations on the current menu is The Mistress, which combines Tanqueray gin, Pavan muscat liqueur, fresh lemon, orgeat, egg white, bitters and edible flowers.”

It certainly takes some skill and craft to refine combinations like that, and take them to the next level. It’s definitely not a skill everyone has.

“In terms of signature cocktails, on the rooftop we serve a QT G&T, which is our take on the original using West Winds The Sabre gin, elderflower quinine and fresh lime combined with cucumber-flavoured Capi Soda and a rosemary garnish. We also serve a signature barrel-aged house old-fashioned and a vanilla passionfruit-infused pisco sour.”

Braden's Melbourne Picks

What are your favourite ingredients to work with at QT and why? I don't have a favourite ingredient as such, but recently I’ve been playing around with Amaro Italian liqueur.

What’s your favourite spot to eat in Melbourne? I’ve been known to venture downstairs to Hot Sauce Laneway Bar (QT Melbourne’s hidden gem) for a late-night feed post work and can highly recommend the baos. If I’m not at work, then I’d have to say Supernormal. It’s safe to say I love Asian cuisine.

What’s your favourite Melbourne festival or event? I’ve been to Unify a couple of times over the years, and had an absolute ball at the Juniperlooza gin festival. I’ve only lived in Melbourne for 11 months and feel there are so many more events to discover. I’ve only scratched the surface.

More killer cocktails with a view

Check out Loop Roof. The space changes as often as the weather, without compromising those essential skyline views. Choose from an extensive cocktail menu — you can customise your espresso martini with one of five add-in flavours — or take a world tour with the wine list. There’s a tasty menu, with selections for vegans and those with intolerances. Try the KFC, Korean Fried Cauliflower or grab the Mexico City Tacos, for a contemporary take on a traditional favourite. Add unbeatable views and cool tunes and you’ll see why this is one of Melbourne’s most popular rooftop bars.

Drink in style at Slate, a chic, contemporary space oozing panache, from its sweeping rooftop design to its warm neutral colour scheme. A carefully curated wine list covers most of Australia and parts of France, and the food menu emphasises the classics, like good old fish ’n’ chips. Satisfy a hunger of any size from the full breakfast menu, through to lunch, dinner and bar snacks. Be tempted by the mac n cheese popcorn puffs, or indulge in the lamb ribs with 13 different spices.

For the people watchers, The Red Hummingbird has become a Melbourne institution, as much for its nine-page drinks menu as for its eclectic yet elegant urban style. This dimly lit hideaway, with its dark wood bar and cosy spaces, attracts a diverse crowd. Here, post-work punters rub shoulders with Melbourne’s hipster crew. The cocktail list features the classics, as well as a number of surprises, with some even named after characters like Captain Jack Sparrow and Punky Brewster. The crimson-hued, eponymous signature cocktail pairs gin and Chambord with fruit juices and fresh strawberries. You’ll also be able to have a light snack or full meal, making it the ideal place to either start or end an evening. You’ll find a selection of tapas and pizzas as well as a robust roll call of staples like sliders, fish 'n' chips, veg spring rolls and hot dogs.

Meanwhile, sports fans will tell you The Imperial is the place to be. Not only does it offer coverage of all the big events, but it also stays open late when your team is battling it out in the finals. This is more of a beer place, with a dozen on tap, but there’s wine too. The rooftop fills up fast, and there’s a menu of share plates, like charcuterie platters and Thai crab cakes, to kill hunger pangs.