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Ester

Carpe Negroni: A New Star in the Craft Spirit Firmament

Unashamedly inspired by an obsessive quest for the perfect Negroni, talented hospitality veterans Felix Clark and Corinna Kovner began their distilling journey with a 20-litre coffee boiler still in the backyard of their Newtown digs. Tentative sampling to their hospo friends confirmed what they initially believed—their efforts were hitting the mark, and Ester Gin was born.

Initially, it was a slow burn while the running of two successful cafes in Sydney and important life admin took precedence. The penny finally dropped in 2020 when their Ester Strong Gin won Best in Show at the Australian Gin Awards. One of the judges took Clark aside, proclaiming Ester’s Strong to be “The best Gin I’ve had in my life”. There would be no turning back.

To borrow a phrase from F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ester’s guiding philosophy seems less textbook and more of “a constant, turbulent riot”. Made without regard to perceived trends or esoteric, headline-grabbing botanicals, these are Gins of outstanding class and true quality.

The first rule of Ester: charismatic flavour, and lots of it. Ester’s botanical load is between 110 and 150% higher than most other Gins, which drives up costs—a price Felix and Corinna are happy to pay considering the uptick in flavour and wrap-around-the-tongue character they get into the glass. The second rule is balance: no one component steals the show. Clark and Kovner bring a chef’s mentality to fine-tune the scale between big flavour and textural elements.

The Dry Gin is openly based on a London Dry style: bold, savoury and specifically designed to be used in a Negroni (although you are welcome to expand on that). The Strong Gin has already been festooned by industry acclaim, winning World’s Best Navy at the 2021 World Gin Awards (among other awards). There’s also a righteous prebatched Negroni—a badge of honour for Clark—that in our opinion, tastes like it was designed to set a benchmark for the category.  

Clark and Kovner are presently renovating their distillery space in Marrickville, a large 1950s/60s red brick building “so ugly it’s beautiful”, with enough room for a bar and gallery. Frankie, Ester’s 200-litre hybrid offset still, stands at the ready, with Clark expecting that this still’s smaller batches will enable him to refine his recipe even further. And this is just the beginning of the journey. To Felix Clark and Corinna Kovner, resting on your laurels seems a sign of defeat. There are now several new Gin styles in conception, and the building next door has already been earmarked for Clark’s other love, Rum.

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Ester Dry Gin
Bibendum Bar

Ester Dry Gin

Ester’s striking Dry Gin is crafted using a traditional all-in method of distillation. Sitting at a proper and well-integrated 43% abv, the recipe takes the clean, juniper-forward profile inspired by a classic London Dry style before layers of Ester’s own unique twist—with a punch of savoury citrus flavour and the judicious accent of locally grown botanicals.Aromatically, a proud hit of juniper, coriander and liquorice root spike the spirit with dry spice and herbaceous intensity. Then unctuous, macadamia-enhanced texture floats across the tongue, animated by earthy citrus notes of native finger lime and lemon myrtle. Sweet mandarin lifts the finish while adding a twist of elegance. The result? An unfiltered, exceptionally classy and well-balanced Gin for classicists and modernists alike, and a natural for any traditional Gin cocktails. Botanicals; Juniper, cardamom, coriander, orris, angelica, liquorice, clove, cassia, finger lime, macadamia, lemon myrtle, sweet mandarin peel, pepper berry.

Ester’s striking Dry Gin is crafted using a traditional all-in method of distillation. Sitting at a proper and well-integrated 43% abv, the recipe takes the clean, juniper-forward profile inspired by a classic London Dry style before layers of Ester’s own unique twist—with a punch of savoury citrus flavour and the judicious accent of locally grown botanicals. Aromatically, a proud hit of juniper, coriander and liquorice root spike the spirit with dry spice and herbaceous intensity. Then unctuous, macadamia-enhanced texture floats across the tongue, animated by earthy citrus notes of native finger lime and lemon myrtle. Sweet mandarin lifts the finish while adding a twist of elegance. The result? An unfiltered, exceptionally classy and well-balanced Gin for classicists and modernists alike, and a natural for any traditional Gin cocktails.

GOLD - Australian Distilled Spirits Awards 2020
GOLD - Australian Gin Awards 2021
GOLD - World Gin Awards 2021
Ester Dry Gin
Bibendum Bar
Ester Mandarin Gimlet
Bibendum Bar

Ester Mandarin Gimlet

Ester Dry, and the Marrickville distillery’s own mandarin cordial, made using whole mandarin shrub including the skin, acid and sugar for balance. Essentially, this is a Gimlet ready to go, and so is designed to be served straight-up (at about -10 degrees), but the Ester team tell us this also works well served long with soda or Prosecco. We're definitely up for that, but it's so delicious, we're thinking it would be dangerous! Like a classic Gimlet, this doesn't smell that juicy or sweet at first sniff. Instead, the balance of the peel, oil and juice keeps this drink as fragrant as the Gin that forms its base. The dilution brings juniper and coriander seed to the fore, and on the palate you get a lip-smacking sweet/sour tang with herbal body and generosity. Mandarin takes the classic Gimlet out of a dark bar and into an outdoor summery setting. Botanicals: Juniper, cardamom, coriander, orris, angelica, liquorice, clove, cassia, finger lime, macadamia, lemon myrtle, sweet mandarin peel and pepperberry.

Like a classic Gimlet, this doesn't smell that juicy or sweet at first sniff. Instead, the balance of the peel, oil and juice keeps this drink as fragrant as the Gin that forms its base. The dilution brings juniper and coriander seed to the fore, and on the palate you get a lip-smacking sweet/sour tang with herbal body and generosity. Mandarin takes the classic Gimlet out of a dark bar and into an outdoor summery setting.

Ester Mandarin Gimlet
Bibendum Bar
Ester Negroni
Bibendum Bar

Ester Negroni

Considering Felix Clark started his spirits journey in a quest for the perfect Negroni Gin, it stands to reason that his prebatched Negroni has plenty riding on it. Ester’s blend takes in equal measures of Ester Dry (the holy grail itself), Campari, and “the best damn Vermouth on the market (when you can find it!)”—Cocchi Vermouth di Torino. To mimic the icy stir down in the mixing glass, Clark uses 20% filtered water. You get what you put in—this really is hard to match, and nigh-impossible to pick as a prebatched mix. Pour straight from the fridge or freezer (-15º works a treat, but don't over-chill or it will freeze) for one of the classiest and most authentic Negronis around. It’s certainly got enough flavour to be diluted with tonic or soda if that’s what floats your boat. Fosco Scarselli could hardly have done better!

You get what you put in—this really is hard to match, and nigh-impossible to pick as a prebatched mix. Pour straight from the fridge or freezer (-15º works a treat, but don't over-chill or it will freeze) for one of the classiest and most authentic Negronis around. It’s certainly got enough flavour to be diluted with tonic or soda if that’s what floats your boat. Fosco Scarselli could hardly have done better!

Ester Negroni
Bibendum Bar
Ester Strong Gin
Bibendum Bar

Ester Strong Gin

To create their explosive Navy-strength bottling, the Ester team uses an extra roar of juniper, finger lime and lemon myrtle interlaced into the feisty punch of the 57% ABV. Florals and spice weave over a foundation of citrus and pine forest; it’s viscous and intense with a thunderous undercurrent of spice and citrus, all layered with complex savoury notes. The beauty of the recipe means that, somehow, nothing stands out save for the remarkable layered texture, and symphony of balanced flavours. It’s been dubbed a Gin geek’s Gin, yet there is nothing elitist about it: just a beautifully crafted and quintessential cocktail gin that is built for the classics. Botanicals; Juniper, cardamom, coriander, orris, angelica, liquorice, clove, cassia, finger lime, macadamia, lemon myrtle, pepper berry.

Florals and spice weave over a foundation of citrus and pine forest; it’s viscous and intense with a thunderous undercurrent of spice and citrus, all layered with complex savoury notes. The beauty of the recipe means that, somehow, nothing stands out save for the remarkable layered texture, and symphony of balanced flavours. It’s been dubbed a Gin geek’s Gin, yet there is nothing elitist about it: just a beautifully crafted and quintessential cocktail gin that is built for the classics.

Joint Best in Show
2020 Australian Gin Awards
World’s Best Navy
2021 World Gin Awards
Gold
2021 Australian Gin Awards
Gold
2022 San Francisco Wine and Spirits Competition
Ester Strong Gin
Bibendum Bar
Ester Negroni (100ml)
Bibendum Bar

Ester Negroni (100ml)

Considering Felix Clark started his spirits journey in a quest for the perfect Negroni Gin, it stands to reason that his prebatched Negroni has plenty riding on it. Ester’s blend takes in equal measures of Ester Dry (the holy grail itself), Campari, and “the best damn Vermouth on the market (when you can find it!)”—Cocchi Vermouth di Torino. To mimic the icy stir down in the mixing glass, Clark uses 20% filtered water. You get what you put in—this really is hard to match, and nigh-impossible to pick as a prebatched mix. Pour straight from the fridge or freezer (-15º works a treat, but don't over-chill or it will freeze) for one of the classiest and most authentic Negronis around. It’s certainly got enough flavour to be diluted with tonic or soda if that’s what floats your boat. Fosco Scarselli could hardly have done better!

You get what you put in—this really is hard to match, and nigh-impossible to pick as a prebatched mix. Pour straight from the fridge or freezer (-15º works a treat, but don't over-chill or it will freeze) for one of the classiest and most authentic Negronis around. It’s certainly got enough flavour to be diluted with tonic or soda if that’s what floats your boat. Fosco Scarselli could hardly have done better!

Ester Negroni (100ml)
Bibendum Bar
Ester Bees Knees
Bibendum Bar

Ester Bees Knees

The latest buzz-worthy salvo from the crazy diamonds at Ester Sprits is this turbocharged take on a prohibition cocktail. Traditionally a blend of Gin, honey and citrus, here Felix and Corrina have added even more punch with added yuzu sake—and then they’ve lined the inside of the bottle with beeswax (creating surely the most unique bottled cocktail in Australia right now). Felix explains: “As the cocktail sits in the bottle, it draws the lipids out of the beeswax and imparts the cocktail with layers of unctuous honey flavour, combined with the fresh bite of sour citrus.” The beauty of the beeswax lies in its uniqueness, so each batch is uniquely different depending on the bees, the time of year and what they are pollinating. Regardless, this sweet, oily and sour creation is a zing of beauty.Serve as cold as possible in a coupe or over ice, or try topped with Midnight Mixers tonic for a springtime spritz. 24.5% alcohol.

Ester Bees Knees
Bibendum Bar
Show All

Ester Dry Gin - 2020 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards - Gold

Ester Dry Gin - 2021 Australian Gin Awards - Gold

Ester Dry Gin - 2021 World Gin Awards - Gold

Ester Strong Gin - 2020 Australian Gin Awards Joint Best in Show

Ester Strong Gin - 2021 World Gin Awards World’s Best Navy

Ester Strong Gin - 2021 Australian Gin Awards - Gold

Country

Australia

Primary Region

Sydney, New South Wales

Availability

National

Test Information Two

Ester Negroni recipe

Test Information Three

Army & Navy recipe

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