Death and Taxes, located in the Brisbane city centre, has unveiled a new offering of around 30 cocktails, drawing inspiration from religion and mythology.
Bars and Clubs spoke to Death and Taxes Venue Manager, Joyce Chang, about how these drinks were developed, the training process and the bar’s wider concept.
Joyce moved to Australia from Taiwan about six years ago, having worked in hospitality in her home country.
“I just wanted to move somewhere else – somewhere brand new, so I started working at a venue called Bourbon Street Southbank,” Joyce says.
Here she developed a love and appreciation for whiskey, and moved on to Electric Avenue in Woolloongabba, which had a strong classic cocktail focus. From here, she joined Death and Taxes, initially on the floor for the first six months, before moving into the bar and working her way up to venue manager.
“It’s been a long journey, but I’m just like – I was born to do this, and that’s why I enjoy it,” Joyce says.
The new menu follows ‘Volume One’, and is the first comprehensive reimagining of the drinks offering since the bar first opened in 2019 (a smaller menu was launched during the lockdown era, but was never printed). Joyce and the team have kept two cocktails from the original menu, another from the lockdown menu, but other than that, all the other drinks were new creations.
“The rest, I’d say 28, are brand new cocktails that we’ve just launched,” Joyce said.
The theme of this menu has been ‘inclusion’, and Bars and Clubs asked Joyce how this practically impacted the menu’s creation.
“So Jack [Creighton, Death and Taxes Creative Director] and I created this menu, but we sought out ideas from our staff, even the junior staff,” Joyce explains.
“They’d say: ‘Hey, today I want to do a rye cocktail,’ so we’d say: ‘What do you want to do with that, and what kind of flavour do you want to play with?’
“Inclusion is kind of a team effort. It’s not just me or Jack presenting this cocktail menu, it’s the whole team’s efforts and their ideas,” Joyce adds.
The menu took about a month to three or four months from conception to launch, including design and staff training – which was substantial, given the quantity of new drinks to learn. During this development, Joyce says, the staff attempted to encapsulate the New York-inspired, dimmed light atmosphere of the Death and Taxes
“With designing this menu, and the cocktail names, it’s like mythology, or fits into the ‘death’ theme – like a god, or a story. So the cocktails showcase the spirit of Death and Taxes,” Joyce says.
Asked to pick her favourite out of the many drinks on offer, Joyce chose ‘Othello’ – an Old Fashioned style cocktail made with strawberry-infused Singleton Scotch, Sakura (Japanese cherry blossom), Amaro Braulio, Calvados and Lemon Bitters.
“In general, it’s a fruity, floral Old Fashioned. That’s one of my favourites,” Joyce says.
See the recipe here.
“And the other one which is probably a favourite is called ‘Dreamy Toussaint’,” Joyce says.
This cocktail is a combination of Bulleit Bourbon, Rosemary, Krisch, Rinomato and Butterfly Pea.
“Instead of showcasing oaky bourbon, or fruity cocktails, I wanted this one to be herbaceous. These are probably my two favourites, but there are like tonnes more, and it’s all so different – it’s really hard to pick.”
The menu’s theme of ‘inclusion’ also extends to include the general public, as Joyce concludes.
“We created this menu not because we want to showcase something really weird, or a super fancy technique. It’s just: a drink is tasty, it’s for everyone.”
This story was initially published on Bars and Clubs. Click here to subscribe to the weekly newsletter.