In a world where big things often grab all the attention, the latest trend in drinking culture is turning the tables. Like little gems glimmering in a vast ocean of alcoholic beverages, tiny cocktails have taken the nightlife scene by storm, charming cocktail enthusiasts and bartenders alike with their adorable format. These shrunken sips of delight have emerged as the most captivating revolution in the bar world, offering a delightful twist to the traditional cocktail experience. Mini serves at mini prices.
At first glance, you might assume that tiny cocktails are mere novelties designed to charm with their size. You would be right, but also wrong. Sarah Proietti, Venue Manager at Maybe Sammy, named best bar in Australiasia every year since it opened in 2019, admits the glasses at the bar are meant to be visual.
“We have custom-made glasses that are fun and whimsy,” she said, referring to the flamingo vessels Maybe Sammy is known for. “People want to take photos of what they’re doing, what they’re eating and drinking, so we make sure not only our drinks, but our atmosphere is beautiful and magical.”
Proietti is of course, referring to Maybe Sammy’s rat pack-esque bartenders, wielding bubble guns into the late hours of the night, adding to the bar’s whim.
When it comes to miniature cocktails, Maybe Sammy has an entire menu dedicated to them, of which Proietti ventured a guess to say Maybe Sammy is the first cocktail bar in Australia to dedicate its offerings to mini cocktails. Although that can’t be proven, we do agree; maybe Sammy’s tiny cocktails are legendary in every sense.
“The minis bring an aperitivo atmosphere to the venue,” said Proietti. By that, she means the experience of aperitivo, a cultural ritual derived from the Latin word aperire, meaning “to open” the stomach before dining. A pre-meal drink, as it’s more commonly known. Although Maybe Sammy’s minis are enjoyed pre and post-dinner, the ritual remains the same — to enjoy good company and good drinks.
In these trying times, where society has coined the phrase “Cozzie Lives” to humour ourselves with the current cost of living crisis in a truly Australian way, mini cocktails emerge as the pocket-sized saviour to all our nightlife needs.
Mini cocktails are cheaper than their regular-sized counterparts. At Maybe Sammy, minis will set you back $13 or $7 if you visit during Classic Mini Hour (4:30-5:30 pm daily). For comparison, a normal-sized cocktail costs around $24 and up. Considering our going-out plans these days are held hostage by the cost of living; the affordable minis allow us to indulge in our favourite libations and savour a social life.
While cost is a major factor in why tiny cocktails are doing so well today, Proietti also finds that people are enjoying the shrunken cocktails because they can drink more. This doesn’t necessarily mean they can get drunk quicker; instead, it’s the opposite. But, Proietti is alluding to the flavourful adventures one can have in a bar.
“I’ve noticed people ordering three or more minis in one sitting, and all different kinds, too,” she said. Thanks to the small format, people can try different offerings, whether it be a Jasmine negroni or a eucalyptus gimlet. “You don’t have to commit to one drink.” If you’ve always wanted to try a particular cocktail, the mini format is the perfect chance to do it.
Miniaturising cocktails isn’t exactly new. You could ask any bartender, and they will tell you a proper cocktail is short, snappy and cold to the last sip. Proietti agreed. “If you can have a martini in two or three sips, you’re doing it right.”
Although, miniaturising cocktails requires a precise understanding of flavours and proportions, as each sip must pack the same punch as its full-sized counterpart. Balance becomes paramount, and every ingredient must sing in harmony.
Maybe Sammy’s awarded bartenders are experts at balance and flavour. The minis range is derived from the bottled cocktail program the bar launched a few years ago, featuring a signature trio of Eucalyptus Gimlet, Chamomile Martini, and Jasmine Negroni.
“When we open our doors on a Saturday night, the room fills up quickly. The minis are an easy way to quickly get drinks in people’s hands. It’s poured straight from our bottled cocktails, which also promotes our bottled cocktails. It’s a win-win,” said Proietti.
Although, not all the minis are part of the bottle cocktail program. There are many bite-sized versions of classic cocktails, including a mini Irish coffee, mini gin or vodka martini, and the mini infinity, a take on the bar’s favourite bubble cocktail for the past three years, shrunk into a thumb-sized vessel, with the iconic bubble, wobbling on top.
“Our minis menu is a great opportunity for people to taste what they can expect from our signature menu,” she said. “You can also order non-alcoholic versions of all our minis. We want everyone to enjoy our cocktails.”
So the question remains, is this a passing fad? Proeitti doesn’t believe so. She thinks with the cost of living and the demand for visually aesthetic drinks; tiny cocktails will live on.
“They will always have their place on the menu.”
So, the next time you find yourself at a tiny cocktail bar, raise your petite glass in a cheer to the brilliance of micro mixology — where big flavours come in small packages, and prices are halved.