Recently the crew at Baby Mammoth in Northbridge spent over a week trying to clarify orange juice. Why? Because they found themselves with a lot of oranges and, quite frankly, just to see if they could do. Negronis are one of their most popular cocktails and it uses orange peel as a garnish, resulting in lots of peeled oranges with no purpose. Rather than go to waste, the idea came up to juice them, clarify the juice and then make completely clear Harvey Wallbangers. They named this new cocktail the Clarified Banger. Baby Mammoth’s co-owner Ryan Lambson and bar manager Zack Garcia toldd me the story with big smiles and a lot of laughter. Just telling me this story leads the guys to another idea; to create a clear rocky road ice-cream topped with a clear chocolate sauce. It may or may not happen but it’s not really the point.
Ryan and his wife Tania along with Zack and rest of the Baby Mammoth staff have a group chat on Facebook. Often the messages are a relentless stream of “really constructive ideas,” Ryan says and adds,“it’s lots and lots of fun, I don’t get bored.” Tania, in particular, Ryan and Zack say is an “ideas muse”. The constant collaboration between the whole team is impressive.
“I’m loving coming to work and having the freedom to do and create,”
Zack Garcia, Baby Mammoth bar manager
The creation of their cocktail Gran Pappy’s Love Tonic, featuring rum, tequila, watermelon and La Sirene Urban Pale liqueur, they say was a particularly hard cocktail to develop and just one example of their very collaborative process. “That cocktail was the bane of my life,” Zack laughs.
Zack says that putting up a call on Facebook looking for work is what lead to him to Baby Mammoth. “I was desperate,” Zack laughs, “I put the white flag up and Ryan replied.”
“Within three weeks he gave me the keys and the alarm code,” Zack says.
For Ryan, feeling confident that the front of house is in good hands with Zack, has allowed him to enjoy getting back to the food side of the business, creating new dishes and pairings. For instance, when they tapped a keg of Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic, one of the most highly regarded beers in the world, Ryan created a food pairing of pineapple and thyme compote with creamy blue cheese.
“With the way business is at the moment it’s really important to get creative,” Ryan says of the somewhat flat economy.
Creativity in the kitchen has always been focus at Baby Mammoth where monthly ‘chef lab’ events challenge each of their chefs to create a new dish based around a theme. Customers votes determine the winner.
August Chef Lab theme is Carnivale! Bookings Essential $20pp // Tuesday 1st August // Event Information Here
“We can’t play it safe, we need to take some risks”
Ryan Lambson, Baby Mammoth co-owner
Really great beers not only inspire and influence Ryan’s food ideas but also their house-made liqueurs and vermouths and with Zack on board they are developing these further; showcasing them separately as well as within their cocktails. This means you’ll be able to order from a list just like you would a wine or a beer and as someone who has sampled many of their liqueurs and vermouths, this is very good news.
“The longer we do this, the more interesting people we met,” Ryan says and these people inspire him further. People like the crew at Boatrocker Brewery and Starward Distillery who they are collaborating with for an upcoming event called Glorious Food, Beer and Whisky on 31 July.
“We wanted to put the two [Boatrocker and Starward] together and then of course do something really weird with the boys in the kitchen so Baby Mammoth also puts its mark on the dinner,” Zack says excitedly.
The stars aligned for the event with Paul Slater, Starward’s brand ambassador and Ben Lancaster from Boatrocker coincidentally in Perth at the same time making scheduling the event with two east coast companies surprisingly easy.
“Me and Zack were so excited that we went an email at the same time,” Ryan says of organising the Boatrocker beers for the event and it promises to be an impressive list with some barrel-aged beers and beers that have not been available in WA before.
The team hope the Starward and Boatrocker night can be an annual event and they’re also hoping that last year’s La Sirene dinner with co-founder and brewer Costa Nikias will happen this year too (nudge, nudge, hint, hint, if you’re reading this Costa!)
Ultimately Ryan and Zack agree that it is all about having fun whilst giving their customers an experience.
“Our job is to be informative, help our customers, guide them, feed them lots of interesting stuff and hopefully they leave happy every time and come back,” Ryan says and nicely sums up why I keep going back to Baby Mammoth.