At The Bar with Shaun Byrne and Gilles Lapalus from Maidenii

Former Gin Palace bartender Shaun Byrne met French winemaker Gilles Lapalus through the late Gin Palace owner and Melbourne bar scene identity Vernon Chalker. Their immediate friendship led to establishing a boutique Australian vermouth brand Maidenii which fuses native botanicals with quality wine; they’re the rock star bottles you see lined in only the best bars in the country.

Maidennii has given vermouth a renewed everyday purpose; writing a cocktail recipe book, and sharing tips on how to drink and store it in 2018.

Byrne also has a side business Marionette – making a range of liqueurs you’ll also spot at the better bars of our city, while Lapalus is busy making wine in Castlemaine, Central Victoria. He arrived in Australia from Burgundy in 2001– leaving a three-generation wine making family for a shot at starting his own wine consulting business. By 2015 he had established the Bertrand Bespoke label and Maison LAPALUS wine brand.

Shaun Byrne and Gilles Lapalus talk to The Write Drop for our At The Bar series.

MY CITY

Gilles: Castlemaine, best people.

Shaun: I live in Keilor because it feels like a country town with the added benefit of being close to town.

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY

Gilles: Geeza focaccia and salt mortadella for lunch.

Shaun: BBQ sardines on the beach in Nerja, Spain.

FAVOURITE BAR

Gilles: Love Shack in Castlemaine – mid-strength beer.

Shaun: Gin Palace – WET Martini accompanied with a plate of toasted chicken sandwiches.

DRINK THAT DESCRIBES YOUR PERSONALITY 

Gilles: Pet Nat spritz – light, fizzy and aromatic.

Shaun: Negroni – I’m a little bitter and an acquired taste, until you’re hooked.

BEST HANGOVER CURE

Gilles: Swim in a cold dam.

Shaun: Flat Coca Cola.

BEST INTERSTATE BAR

Gilles: Hellbound Adelaide, Ngeringa or Gentle Folk.

Shaun: Bar Roachford in Canberra or Bertie Wine Bar in WA – the dish to have is the Scotch Egg.

FAVOURITE WINE

Gilles: Balgownie Hermitage 1978.

Shaun: Maison Lapalus vin de Paille (when he has stock available!).

FAVOURITE WINERY

Gilles: Hanging Rock Winery.

Shaun: Hanging Rock Winery.

NEXT DESTINATION

Gilles: Japan for skiing and wine/spirits.

Shaun: Far North Queensland in winter, to thaw out of course.

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