When it came to the ‘Best Cocktails’ category in our recent Best Of Newcastle campaign, one name was consistently heralded as the expert. This name was Shane Henry, the man behind the mixology at The Dockyard.
We got the chance to have a chat with the crowned cocktail king himself about his unique creations, and what it takes to make a killer drink…
When did you join the Dockyard family?
May 2014, casually for a few months then joined a full time position
How did you get into cocktail ‘mixology’, was it always something you were interested in or did you kind of fall into it?
It wasn’t until I was 22 and had been bar tending for 4 years that I made my first cocktail and really got into mixology. Funny story actually, my girlfriend of the last 4 ½ years was the first to give me a crash course in cocktails when I started working at Pippi’s at the Point, and both interests quickly blossomed from there.
How do you come up with your cocktail creations?
There are 3 major boxes a cocktail needs to tick to be a hit:
1/ Sound Good, whether it be a catchy name, a reference to something in popular culture or a name of what the cocktail will/ should taste like i.e. Golden Gaytime
2/ Look Good, needs to look the part, anyone can make something and put it in a glass and call it a cocktail but when you bring an elaborate or interactive garnish into the picture it takes the drink to another level
3/ Taste Good, balance is key in cocktail making, you need to give the right texture and viscosity to represent the drink as well as balancing sweet and sour, dry and dirty, long and lush, etc.
Coming up with the ideas is the easy part and can come from literally anywhere, from a passing conversation to a hungover breakfast, you can find inspiration in just about anything if you look at it the right way.
If you had to pick just one, what would be your specialty or signature cocktail?
The Kiss Me Katut – It was one of my first and has been with me for a long time, great drink and a real crowd pleaser.
When you’ve got some time off from The Dockyard, where is your favourite place to chill out with a drink?
Bar Petite! Everything about the place is amazing! The staff, the demographic, the atmosphere and vibe, the amazing drinks and food! If I have a night off you can guarantee that’s where you will find me! However, I am an avid coffee fan and can’t go a day without a coffee from my local, The Letter Q at Kotara.
And finally, what are the three cocktail ingredients you can’t live without?
Vanilla Bean – Whether it be a liqueur, whole or syrup, it is just the best thing ever and makes everything taste awesome
Vodka and Tequila – Great in cocktails, Vodka takes on flavours great and is a terrific canvas base for cocktails, Tequila is a close second, it’s like the best friend you have a falling out with once or twice, but just find yourself coming back to over and over again
Coffee – Mostly just for me…. but Espresso Martini’s are at the top of the list when it comes to my personal favourites, an upper and downer in one, how can you really go wrong?
Whether you’re into the cocktail classics or fancy something a little more adventurous, Shane will certainly have your tastes covered. Get down to The Dockyard and put him to the test, we guarantee you won’t be disappointed! And, keep an eye on our site for our ‘Definitive Dockyard Cocktails’ list in the coming weeks.