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A Chef’s Approach to Cocktails

They say opposites attract. And in the case of the duo behind Charlie Parker’s, Sam Egerton and Toby Marshall, they clash and compliment each other, too.

The passionate and incredibly well versed drink makers – who met three years ago while working at speakeasy bar Palmer & Co. – are different in a number of ways.

Toby’s mind is full of fancy, an anything-can-happen book of wonders. Sam is more practical, his thought process a little more grounded.

Toby will experiment by getting his hands dirty. Sam’s drinks are often finalised before they ever hit a glass.

Where Toby’s creative process has always been centered around seasonality, Sam wonders how he can push the bartending envelope in terms of technology. 

Charlie Parker’s – the basement bar underneath restaurant Fred’s – incorporates, blends and balances both bartender’s thought-processes and inspirations.

“We take seasonal produce and use every element of a plant – it’s leaves, seeds, flesh, skin,” Toby explains. “Then we use chef’s equipment – machines like dehydrators and rotary evaporators – to pull those elements apart and deliver even more flavour.”

What results is a drinks list that reads like a fantastical dream journal: Raspberry glass, field mushroom, cognac, sparkling, burnt pecan, pisco, mandarin reduction, oloroso; scotch, redwood bark, stone wash, moss from the forest floor, agave rope, cacao, Cuban rum and strawberry which has been rested for 90 days...

“It’s almost like a chef’s approach to drink making.  We’ll dissect fruit or plants like a butcher or chef would a whole animal and, coupled with our back of house program incorporating certain technology, we end up producing something quite bespoke.”

But despite the fact Sam and Toby are thinking outside the box with their top-to-tail botanical approach and state-of-the-art technology, they shudder to think Charlie Parker’s conjures images of an intimidating cocktail bar.

“We’re a neighbourhood bar with forward thinking techniques, but we’re a neighbourhood bar nonetheless,” Sam says. “Of course we’re more than happy to talk through exactly what we do with those who are interested, but if you just want a cocktail without the chat, that’s fine too.”

Indeed, more than the processes behind their drink making, Toby and Sam prefer to impress with great service. Their staff will remember your name; your sliced porchetta, pickled chili and bread, and marinated beetroot with walnuts (just a small sampling of the food offering) will be delivered to your table. 

And if you just want a beer? Or a wine or a gin? Have that! The boys just want you to relax.

Adds Toby, “There are a lot of elements to what we’re doing, but really we just want to be a bar that makes tasty drinks, has great food and great service.

“You can come to Charlie Parker’s any night of the week; it doesn’t have to be for a special occasion, you don’t have to be celebrating something, it could just be for an after work drink.

“But it could be amazing.” 

Thirsty? Charlie Parker's is now open.