It’s been a busy eight months for the Sparkke team.
In March they celebrated the opening of a sparkling new brewpub in the 180-year-old former Whitmore Hotel on Morphett Street, followed soon after by the announcement that celebrated chef Emma McCaskill (previously of The Pot in Hyde Park) was taking over the kitchen, and then the release of the first beers from an on-site nanobrewery.
In just the past few days alone, the Sparkke Change Beverage Company has also launched its first gin collaboration – The Great Dames Gin, created with Applewood Distillery in the Adelaide Hills – and fresh social-change messages on all its cans.
Next week they will unveil Sparkke at the Whitmore’s new Rooftop Bar & Kitchen, which McCaskill and Sparkke co-founder Rose Kentish say is the culmination of discussions that have taken place over the past six months.
“We had always intended to put a kitchen in [on the rooftop] and to extend and finish the bar, but when we were designing it and getting ready to open we thought, let’s just put in four taps and the bare bones of the bar upstairs and see what customers want and what works in the space,” Kentish says.
The bar itself has now been extended to accommodate an increase in the number of taps from four to 10, so all the Sparkke beers available downstairs can also be poured upstairs.
A large custom-built wood fire nicknamed Whitney – “she’s a bit of a diva” – is the centrepiece of a newly installed kitchen, while a three-sided, east-facing pavilion makes the space waterproof while also giving patrons a window on the cooking action.
“It almost feels like the kitchen is a bit of a stage,” Kentish says.
“The customers are looking at the chefs and the chefs are looking at the customers – it’s a very theatrical, interactive form of cooking.”
The feeling of the space, which offers views over the city and is conducive to relaxing with a drink with friends, has inspired the “fun and playful” style of food which will be offered on the new rooftop menu.
“We wanted it to be something completely different to what we’re doing downstairs, but with the same food philosophy,” McCaskill says.
“Downstairs is more sit-down meals and upstairs is more street food … where you can eat holding a drink at the same time. It’s also based around the custom-built fire.”
Kentish adds that the food will be items “you can manage in one hand, whether it be in a wrap or a bamboo boat”.
“We will do some sit-down functions upstairs, where people can sit down and eat from the wood fire, but the day-in day-out enjoyment will be the focus.”
McCaskill’s Anglo-Indian heritage can be seen in the spices and flavour profiles found on Sparkke at the Whitmore’s main menu, and this will also extend to the rooftop dishes.
Expect items such as Najobe Hanger steak skewers with caramelised onions and hot Japanese mustard; handmade vegan samosas with a coconut pastry, wood-roasted vegetable filling and coriander relish; and free-range chicken cooked slowly over the coals and served in a roti wrap with fermented chilli.
One of McCaskill’s favourite dishes is baby squid – a byproduct of the catch of Boston Bay prawn fishers – which will be filled with tabouli, roasted over the fire and served with a brown butter and lemon dressing.
There will also be a $58pp “feed me” menu of food “designed to share and served family style as it rolls off the pass from our fire”.
“We’re trying to utilise meat or vegetables that we use downstairs upstairs as well, so we have zero waste in the pub,” McCaskill says.
Kentish says the brewpub chefs are seeking to get as close as possible to closing the cycle of food waste.
“Things like the trimmings on the broccoli stalks are ground down and put into a different dish … Emma’s looking broadly across the food philosophy and making sure the loop is closed.”
The female-founded and led Sparkke Change Beverage Company promotes itself as a “progressive social enterprise”, and one of its trademark features is the social change wording on the Sparkke drink cans, which have this month been updated with new messages such as “The Last Straw – Just Say No” (on the pale ale) and “Advance Australia Fair? Time To Manus Up!” (ginger beer).
One of its original messages was “Change the Date”, supporting the campaign to change the date of Australia Day, and around 700 of the pilsner cans bearing this wording have been used to line the front of the newly extended rooftop bar.
“It’s quite a unique look and very appropriate for the bar to have that message,” Kentish says.
“It was one of the first beers we made and probably the hardest message to have a conversation about.”
The newly completed Sparkke at the Whitmore Rooftop Bar & Kitchen, 317 Morphett Street, will be launched at an invite-only event next Monday with the new menu available from December 1.
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