Centenary Martini (Centini) at the National Press Club

15 May

It’s Budget Night 2013.

It’s dark.

It’s a bone-biting six degrees.

We hurtle towards towards Barton, listening to Wayne Swan‘s (last?) budget speech. Just as he finishes, we arrive.

There might be a certain mood around Canberra, but it’s a helluva lot warmer – in every sense – inside the National Press Club, where we’re ready to try the Centenary Martini (or its cuter portmanteau: ‘Centini’).

My first thought is, “Oh God, I’m underdressed.” The Gatsby theme has been taken seriously, and all around me I see dapper gentlemen and glamorous gals. The scene is set!

We get our names signed off, have our coats taken, and are given two cards – one for the Northside, one for the Southside – with the explicit instruction to order the ‘Northside’ Centini first. And that’s exactly the first thing we do!

First, the martini glasses get chilled with ice.

First, the martini glasses get chilled with ice.

Just chilling

Just chilling

What follows is some magic with just a dash of aperitif vermouth, and 50 mls of the West Winds Sabre Gin (you can see the bottle in the above pic).

There’s a lemon twist garnish, and then the pouring begins.

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It’s a great colour, and I’m looking forward to imbibing the Northside (represent!).

And WHOA, it packs a punch. Clearly it’s been too long between (good) martinis. I feel my eyes widen with the punch that comes with the Northside – it’s perfect.

Yum!

Yum!

Could it be? Why yes, it's Jeremy Lasek! Tweeting about how much he's enjoying his Northside Centini :)

Could it be? Why yes, it’s Jeremy Lasek! Tweeting about how much he’s enjoying his Northside Centini ๐Ÿ™‚

Two sips in, and already rather merry!

Two sips in, and already rather merry! (And not particularly good at taking photos…)

Just before 9, we gather in the ballroom for the ‘formalities’. Phillip gives us a martini demonstration, and Robyn Archer – it seems a martini aficionado herself – congratulations Phillip on the event. She notes that the Canberra 100 team can put together a blueprintย of what our 100th year should look like, but the blueprint is such that it allows other people to also take the reins, to add their own flavour. And with that, we toast the Centini.

It’s then time for the entertainment. No photos – you simply had to be there.

We head back to the bar for the Southside. This should be the people pleaser, I’m told. No photos of the Southside’s creation, because I’m too excited to finally meet fellow blogger, Le Bon Vivant, also in line at the bar.

Finally meeting!

You know when you meet someone for the first time, but it’s like you’ve known them forever? That’s exactly what I experience. (I can confirm Rachi is just as lovely in person as she comes across on her blog!)

The Southside Centini

The Southside Centini

These olives. WOW.

These olives. WOW.

And then. The Southside is served. And then, my constant fear whenever I hold a martini glass comes true. With true class – and in front of our wonderful host – I bump the glass. Splish! It’s not a complete disaster, but it’s hardly edifying. However, just a moment later, a woman comes past – I’ve no idea who she is – and hands me her tissue to wipe my hand. It’s such a simple gesture, and yet sums up the night to me – Canberrans, together. Thank you, kind woman! (And I’m happy to say, it doesn’t happen again!)

The Southside Centini is completely different. It’s a similar heady mix – perhaps even stronger – and the garnish is two amazing Hall olives (I could eat a whole bowl). It just doesn’t win me over, though. It might be my bias, but while the complexity makes each mouthful a new experience, I really love the ‘in your face’ I get with the Northside (represent!). That said, I have to sadly report that the Southside wins people’s choice (as Phillip predicted).

After a silent auction for Dollars for Dili, the special martini glass set goes to a dapper young gentleman in the room (how fitting!) and, being just after 10, we have to bid adieu – it is a school night, after all.

Date: 8-10.30pm, Tuesday 14 May 2013

Cost: $39 per person (with a significant amount of that going to the Dollars for Dili charity (a great cause). Given the cost of a martini at Playground Bar, and the quality of ingredients used, I think it’s a bargain. What’s not to like?)

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

Want more? Keep up to date with Canberra Martini on Twitter – perhaps this isn’t the last time we’ll have a Canberra Martini event…

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12 Responses to “Centenary Martini (Centini) at the National Press Club”

  1. Gary Lum May 16, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    If only I could drink…

    • inthetaratory May 16, 2013 at 9:15 am #

      There was food, too, but i wasn’t quick enough to grab the passing waiters.

      • Nancy Harrison May 16, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

        I thought I was the only one that missed out on the food!!! By the way – the olives are the very special Homeleigh Olive Grove selection for the Centini.

  2. Nancy Harrison May 16, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    The olives are available at FoodLovers at Belconnen Fresh Food Markets…

  3. Heike Herrling May 16, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    Gatsby – a very Canberra theme.. and you looked every bit the glamorous part ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m sorry I missed this event!

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