The person behind some of the Coast's most creative cocktails.
The person behind some of the Coast's most creative cocktails.
One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, FLOOR! We have all been there. And we all have to agree there may be a love, hate relationship with the spirit, but nevertheless, we won’t be drinking anything else on the 24th of July as it is World Tequila Day. So to get into the spirit (pun intended) we interviewed Gold Coast local, Beverage Manager for Handpicked and Venue Manager of NAAMI, Breeana Erica. Ever had a signature cocktail from Roosevelt Lounge or Loose Moose? Chances are, it will be one of Breeana’s creations. She is the mastermind behind some of the best cocktails on the Coast, and it’s about time you got to know her. So grab yourself a cocktail and read on.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
Gold Coast has been home for 14 years now and I’ve felt like I’ve been on holiday ever since.
Tell us a bit about yourself and why you love doing what you do.
I started working in a small country town pub where learning how to not only take ownership of the bar (as if someone was coming into your own home), but also how to pour the perfect beer and how to banter were first and foremost. I’ve worked in everything from fast-paced pubs, nightclubs and did my fair time in an Irish bar. In each and every different type of venue and bar, I was always looking to reinvent the same old classic cocktails that were on every menu created from the same set of dusty back bar basic bottles. I would always be looking for someone adventurous enough to try my new twists on shots and cocktails wherever I went. From the first time I ever stepped behind a bar, I felt at home and I knew I could let my creative side go wild.
Once I moved into cocktail bars I worked for Moo Moos, Loose Moose, opened the Roosevelt Lounge and a few others in Broadbeach, where you will still find so many of my signature cocktails on their menus years later that I’ve created, including my first ever cocktails still going strong and popular. Cocktail creation for me, is creating art and is my craft. I love to draw people in with all their senses and give them an experience, not just a drink.
At NAAMI, I have full creative freedom and I’ve created a 16 signature immersive and interactive cocktail menu with a few secret cocktails and a secret menu launching in a few weeks. So if you know, you know. I love the feeling of inviting new people every day into what feels like my own home and offering my hospitality and knowledge of the industry and having them try my twist and flair of cocktails.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
I’ve entered a fair few cocktail comps in my time and have won some pretty sweet bragging rights, along with trips away and booze… but, it would honestly have to be the feedback/response from all my customers over the years. Still to this day, I get to meet new people every day and welcome them into my venue and have them fully trust me to try new things and have an experience you don’t get in too many other places. From doing this over the years, I have strangers who have come out for a nice drink who have turned into friends and family; and from meeting new people I have had an absolutely insane amount of people follow my work and career. I also have to mention the people I have had the pleasure of working with – that has also been an achievement in itself.
Tell us your favourite tequila cocktail.
At the moment, my favourite tequila cocktail I created is The NAAMI #5.
What do you love the most about working with tequila?
In the past few years from my perspective behind the bar, the GC went from being the Espresso Martini capital of Australia to The Chilli Margarita obsessed!! Tequila is my go-to spirit at the moment; so I wanted to put my little spin on the classic fav and steer people away from the tequila, salt and lime combo we have all done to death. So I’ve infused Blanco tequila with dill and replaced the triple sec with watermelon, then adding lime, ruby red grapefruit, ghost chilli reduction served with a vanilla sugar rim instead of the classic salt. Batched in a little perfume bottle, as you pour it out for yourself have your camera ready for the glittery surprise in every bottle.
What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café: I am a foodie at heart and being in the hospitality industry my whole life, I have so many favourite places and recommendations. But for me, I love the Pesto Tofu Scramble and service at The Milkman’s Daughter, it’s such a beautiful place to sit and start the day.
Coffee spot: I dont stop in enough but the coffee at Backyard in Nobby’s is always on point!
Restaurant: My favourite restaurant for the location, the service, the food, and my favourite cocktails is definitely Edgewater on Isle of Capri.
Bar or pub for a drink: I am a big fan of supporting all the local surf clubs along the coastline for a cheeky beer by the beach. We are so lucky to have so many little watering holes along the beach!
How do you choose to spend your weekends? My weekends are what most people refer to as Mondays and Tuesdays; and I’m usually out disconnecting in nature, at the beach or taking my longboard out skating up and down the coastline enjoying the year-long summer.
When you find yourself forced to take a closer look at things in life, you can be treated to sensory experiences and surprises that you weren’t even aware existed. A near-perfect example of this — and pride of place slap bang in the middle of Burleigh Heads James Street, no less — is Naami.
From first observation, you’d be in the right frame of mind to assume Burleigh has scored itself another splendid little recess churning out some incredible eats. And it has.
The rustic garage-styled shop front is sure to satisfy your Vietnamese desires with Banh Mi, Spring Rolls and Pho — all to go. The bare minimalistic décor is brought to life by polished concrete floors, neutral hues, and a parked up scrambler style motorcycle, which couldn’t look more at home than on the bustling side streets of Hanoi, Vietnam.
But this isn’t where your attention should be. Although the food served up here is nothing short of astonishing and packed full of authentic flavour, if you let your eyes do some wandering, you might notice a rather large door loitering in the corner. Give it a push, and into Naami bar you go…
Curiosity once did kill the cat, but in this instance, you’re rewarded with Burleigh’s newest speakeasy-style evening haunt. Inspired by a motorcycle trip of Vietnam, owners Ollie Frost and his dad Geoffrey decided the exotic and distinct culture of Vietnam’s back alley bar culture was called for on the Gold Coast. And we couldn’t agree more. The pair are no strangers to hospitality either owning neighbouring Mediterranean hotspot Maman and Surfers Paradise’s burger nirvana, Milky Lane.
Cocktail maestro Breeana Erica, who has cut her teeth composing cocktail lists at multiple venues around the Coast, (including Maggie Choo & The Roosevelt Lounge) is heading up the venue. When it comes to aligning flavours and uniting liquids, this young lady has got it squared right away. With 11 inventive and Asian inspired Signature Cocktails, there will be no room for boredom here. Breeana muses, “The cocktail list reflects a diverse range of flavours and spirits which will ultimately create talking points; we’re hoping for people to sit and enjoy their drinks and create exciting conversations over them”.
No doubt they will. The ‘Pav Is Mine‘ is a tip of the cap to a classic pavlova, but with lashings of vanilla vodka, butterscotch schnapps and a one-of-a-kind passionfruit smoke bubble you just have to see. Or perhaps a ‘Pho-Groni’ is more your thing, especially if your usual tipple is a classic negroni? The bar takes a savoury collaborative gin from Fortune Distillery and Noosa restaurant Sum Yung Guys, Campari, adds a house vermouth blend before finishing with a Port cask finished cardamon tincture. If multifaceted savours are your thing, and you want drinks that challenge your thinking as much as your tastebuds, then you’re in for a treat here.
The overall décor of the venue invites you to grab a drink, sit down, slow up, and chill out. There’s no sense of urgency here. Should you grab some food in the front shop, also feel free to bring it into the bar to have alongside one of their delectable drinks offerings — after all, this is how things are done in South East Asia!
With plans to bring DJs in on specific nights and hold themed evenings and events, Naami plans to be that sultry backstreet bar (and eats) you never knew you needed in your life.
Where: 4/57 James St, Burleigh Heads
Hours: Thursday-Sunday, 5pm — 12am
Words by Alex Mitcheson.
On June 13th each year we raise a glass to World Gin Day and the spirit that has certainly had its come up over the last little while. The Gold Coast boasts our very own gin distillery plus a host of bars making magic with local gins. All of which you won’t be surprised to learn we’re big fans of.
In honour of that, here are the best spots to get your gin fix on the Gold Coast this World Gin Day (or anyday for that matter). Happy sipping.
Tamborine Mountain Distillery
Tucked away on Mount Tamborine is one of Australia’s smallest and most unique distilleries with over 280 International Awards. Their gold medal award winning gin is the Lilly Pilly Gin, a pot still gin using botanicals such as Australian Lilly Pilly (Riberry), Juniper, Angelica root, Orris root, Citrus peel, Caraway, Coriander, Aniseed Myrtle, Elderflower, Mistletoe, Passionflower, Shepherd’s Purse and more. The best part about it, it’s got a delightful pink hue.
Where: 87-91 Beacon Road, North Tamborine
The Island Rooftop
It’s always a good time on the rooftop in Surfers Paradise, overlooking the city and with guaranteed good vibes. While all the sips are sweet, our recommendation is the Clover Leaf made with Beefeater gin, raspberry, lemon and egg white, so good.
Where: 3128 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
Aloha Bar & Dining
How does a Saturn Juniper Uranus sound? Cool right. That’s exactly what you should order at Broady’s most colourful alleyway bar, Aloha Bar & Dining. It’s got Four Pillars gin, sloe gin, orgeat, passionfruit, lime and rosemary and it’s out of this world. The bar itself is decked out in full colour, with hidden rooms and moody, good time vibes aplenty. Follow the music down the alley and you’ll find yourself in a magical world of tiki goodness.
Where: 18 Main Place, Broadbeach
Fig & Frankies
Another delightful Broadbeach bar dedicated to exceptional sips and very good times is Fig & Frankies, also newish on the scene and also very well-loved amongst Gold Coast locals. Their cocktail list is tight and filled with delights made up of local spirits and you’ll want to try them all. Drinks are numbered rather than named and each is absolute perfection to be honest. We particularly loved Number One (aptly named) because it is made up of MAC by Brookies, clarified green apple and house lemonade and we cannot overstate tasty enough. Gather the crew and sip up a storm.
Where: 4/2707 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach
A must-visit cocktail bar in Broadbeach, Roosevelt Lounge is one of the city’s sexiest spots for a cocktail, capturing the seductive style and glamour of decadent New York. For World Gin Day try the Down the Rabbit Hole Signature Cocktail made up of Ink gin, in-house chimmer liqueur (pink moscato, pisco, peach & orange blossom), blueberry vinegar, citric acid and life of cha crystal tea. Delightfully served in a tea pot, this cocktail is an Instagram dream.
Where: 75 Surf Parade, Broadbeach
The Gold Coast’s first gin distillery Granddad Jacks are, quite obviously king when it comes to gin cocktails (and gin in general). Our number one on their list is the Seymour Street with their very own Greenhouse Gin plus Eucalyptus and fresh lime juice because it’s the ultimate in Aussie-inspired freshness and it tastes top notch too. Love your work mates.
Where: 45 Lemana Lane, Miami
Oh Rosella’s, little love of our lives. A refined Australiana bar in the heart of Burleigh Heads, Rosella’s is bringing all Aussie eats and tipples to the very appreciative people. On a list of cocktails that will 100% improve your life (especially the Pet Nat Slushie – love you) but for the purposes of this article let’s chat about the Kylie Minogue Martini with Vickers Gin from Beenleigh Distillery no less, vodka, elderflower, verjus and pink peppercorn. It’ll have you spinning around in no time.
Where: 6/1743 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads
Tucked away down Justin Lane behind a red velvet curtain is Lockwood Bar. They a serving up a sexy sip titled Brookie’s Aviation which fuses Brookie’s Dry Gin, lemon juice, Tempus Fugit liqueur de violette and Luxado Maraschino liqueur. Topped off with a maraschino cherry, you know it’s a goodie.
Where: Justin Lane, Burleigh Heads
An intimate little space down Palmy way is Suga, a cocktail and rum bar open until late and serving up cocktails that are quite unlike anything you’ve sipped before. On World Gin Day we recommend a Gin Lippy with Larrikin Gin, citrus syrup, housemade lemonade and a whole lots of tastiness. A very tasty tipple indeed. Pop on in for a few of those this weekend.
Where: 1142 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach
The Collective Palm Beach
The Rooftop Bar at The Collective Palm Beach is a gin-lovers paradise with beloved gin-based cocktails including the Rose Hip Martini with Poor Toms Gin, hibiscus syrup, lime and grapefruit and the Unnamed Sympathy served Tiki-style with macadamia-infused Nobel Cut Gin, Bushfire Botanic Australis Gin and pine-lime allspice. Both of which are tried and tested by us and both of which are really very delicious.
Where: 1128 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach
Saint Helen’s Kitchen + Bar
If sipping cocktails seaside is your thing (and we know it is), you’ll love Saint Helens Kitchen + Bar signature slurp The Gin Thruster. It’s got gin, blueberry and tonic. It’s bright, refreshing and super Insta-worthy – if it lasts that long.
Where: Shop 2/78 Musgrave Street, Kirra
Words by Kirra Smith
Feeling hungry? Science proves that you might in fact be thirsty and what better remedy exists than the holy grail of liquid love, the margarita. This rings especially true on International Margarita Day on 22nd February which side note; may just be the greatest day ever created.
Here’s our roundup of THE places to sip THE drink famous for making us go weak at the knees (quite literally….).
This joint can do no wrong. Delivering more than just a carb coma with their iconic mouthwatering pizzas, this cult fave also whips up a mean – and strong – frozen margi. And believe you me, nothing says happiness like a ten-outta-ten pizza washed down with an icy take on ‘Me-hi-co’s’ national treasure. No frills here but that’s part of the charm and bonus, you can sink one on the footpath while you’re waiting for your takeaway.
Our pick: Frozen margarita
Where: Shop 2/32 Lavarack Road, Nobby Beach
The fare here is *chef’s kiss* but let’s talk the business; their epic cocktail selection, particularly their signature sip which just happens to be a margarita #obvi. If you’re not already acquainted with Cooly Breeze Rooftop and Bar, it’s time to be. Sitting (very) pretty on the 13th floor, it’s the Coast’s only fine dining rooftop restaurant with spectacular views to the southern coastline and the Tweed River surrounds. Bliss!
Our pick: Cooly Breeze Margi – tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice and homemade pineapple jalapeno syrup
Where: Level 13 of Beachcomber International Resort, 122 Griffith Street, Coolangatta
This senorita needs a margarita (and we have the shirt to prove it, shout out to Sabbi Clothing) and where better than Veladora at The Star, Gold Coast. This Mezcal-inspired speakeasy bar with an extensive range of signature cocktails, Mexican beers, and unique snacks, serves up THE OG margi to beat all margis. Bonus incoming; there’s live music on Fridays and Latin-inspired beats on Saturdays. Salud (on repeat).
Our pick: The Margarita! Herradura Plata, orange liqueur & fresh lime juice
Where: The Star Gold Coast, Casino Drive, Broadbeach
With some of the most exotic and creative margi’s we’ve ever seen (and, umm, sunk), rita-lovers unite at Siblings. Their expansive cocktail menu is the real McCoy, but in our humble opinion, the ‘Margarita Obsession’ section is pure Pegasus-material. Combined with the heritage-listed beachfront location, 1950’s Miami beach vibe fit-out, and a menu to dine for, marg our words – just go.
Our pick: Sex in an Hour – blueberry infused Olmeca Altos Plata, 100% agave tequila, Joseph Cartron Watermelon liqueur, fresh watermelon juice, a touch of Philippe De Bourgogne Crème de Cassis & Fiorente Elderflower liqueur, fresh lime juice, Herradura agave nectar, pink Himalayan salt, & sugar rim
Where: 15 Marine Parade, Kirra
Kirra Beach House
Margi’s land different here so don’t walk, run. With legend Kaden Pool (ex TOKOH) behind the divine drinks menu and hospo veteran Dave Galvin masterminding the whole operation, it’s Kirra Beach House for the win. Add immersive panoramic views of Kirra Beach, a Mediterranean-style grazing menu, and an exceptional selection of world-class cocktails, and perfection mode activated..
Our pick: Kirra Beach House Tommy’s Margarita – tequila, agave, fresh lime, & coastal salt
Where: Level 1, 2 Marine Parade, Coolangatta
Palm Springs Burleigh
Palm Springs Burleigh is a Southern Californian-inspired café, eats and drinks heaven on earth. With All.The.Things you’d expect from somewhere with Palm Springs in the name, you’ll find arches, cacti, Slim Aarons, plenty of green, mint and white hues and of course, M.A.R.G.I.S! A tried and tested Burleigh fave, extra points awarded for the get-in-my-belly-good nosh.
Our pick: Chilli Margarita – chilli infused 1800 silver tequila, Cointreau & fresh lime juice
Where: 1878 Gold Coast Hwy, Burleigh Heads
As you’d expect from one of the most loved Mexi-venues around, Bonita Bonita’s margarita list is off the chain good. As is the chow and the vibe, hence why it continues to pull a sizeable crowd year after year. If you’re going to line your belly coz #tequila, go with the banquet and get the best of everything this GC fave has to offer.
Our pick: Tom-Yum Margarita – 1800 coconut tequila, fresh lime, habanero, lemon grass & ginger syrup, grapefruit juice, & a salt rim
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach
It’s always margarita mania at Nobby’s Mexicali! Served on the rocks and made using fresh fruit and house infused tequilas, all margis are crafted using 100% Blue Agave tequila or mezcal, freshly squeezed lime juice, and agave syrup. Choose from classic, watermelon, strawberry, passionfruit, chilli, cucumber & jalapeno, mezcal, and coconut. And we’ll take the lot #thx.
Our pick: Passionfruit Margarita
Where: Level 1/2223 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach
Nested in Sanctuary Cove, you’ll find this intimate quintessential modern Mexican cantina with a slight Caribbean influence and srsly, what more could one ask for?! Think terracotta, venetian walls, exposed concrete, Virgin Mary statues, and a cactus at every turn. The house tequila is made with wild agave and they only use organic, freshly squeezed lime in all their cocktails…including their iconic ritas. Gimme gimme!
Our pick: Watermelon Margarita
Where: Sanctuary Cove, 39 Masthead Way, Hope Island
Let’s lead with the fact that this place has a margarita bar. Umm, need we even go on? Claiming they serve up the best margis on the Coast, we’re pleased to confirm that this is anything but just a baseless flex. Their selection is lit and they even do happy hour every day from 12pm – 5pm, slinging Classic Margaritas or Frozen Tommy’s for just $15!
Our pick: Cool as a Cucumber – Patron tequila, Triple Sec, agave, house-made cucumber syrup, fresh squeezed lime & a sea salt rim
Where: Lot 1, 70 Surf Parade, Broadbeach
El Camino Cantina
Die-hard fans of El Camino Cantina’s legendary Margaritas are never left high and dry at this Tex- Mex institution. Served frozen or on the rocks, choose from 15oz or 24oz and duh, is there any contest here coz when it comes to a rita, #MoreIsAlwaysMore. El Camino Cantina isn’t just about celebrating National Margarita Day – they’re turning up the heat for an entire week of fiesta from February 19th to 25th! Indulge in a tantalizing array of turbocharged margarita flavors as El Camino Cantina serves up something new every single day. With their ever-rotating lineup of crave-worthy concoctions, there’s no shortage of reasons to raise a glass and toast to the spirit of margarita madness!
Our pick: Blueberry Margi
Where: Paradise Centre, 2 Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise
With no less than 12 ritas to choose from, we’d be here all day listing them all and srsly, just get down there and drink people! Colourful and bold like the staff, everything they do is inspired by the vivid heritage of Mexico, with a nod to our coastal home. With a juicy taco in one hand and a salty margi in the other, life made and happy International Marg Day!
Our pick: The Illegal – Illegal Joven mezcal, triple sec, blanco tequila & lime juice
Where: 6/26 James Street, Burleigh Heads
There’s no better place to celebrate margarita month than at The Collective in Palmy! In fact, this lot have taken it one step further offering cocktail masterclasses, one of which heroes our fave tequilla, Patrón. For $80 per person, learn how to whip up five Patrón-based beauties Collective-style, plus enjoy bubbles on arrival, two of your delicious creations, and a selection of the venue’s most popular grazing dishes and canapes. Please and thank you.
Our pick: Mango & Chilli Margarita – Patrón Blanco, mango, chilli & lime
Where: 1128 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach
We can tell you first-hand (far too many times over) that the resident Margi at Exhibitionist Bar (unpacked below) is one of the best. Sitting high atop the striking HOTA Gallery, this artsy watering hole delivers great flavours and explosions of tastes you won’t forget in a hurry…both in edible and drinkable varieties. Whether you want a light lunch with friends, a cocktail at sundown or a nightcap, this is where it’s at.
Our pick: House Hot Marg – Herradura Blanco tequila, marionette orange, lime & house made hot sauce
Where: HOTA, Home of the Arts, Top Level, 135 Bundall Rd, Surfers Paradise
Words by Bianca Trathen.