Luke Whearty Outrage of Modesty

Barmen are the new rock stars of the taste world. From Cape Town to Singapore and back down under, globe-trotting Australian Luke Whearty leads the pack.

Text Tudor Caradoc-Davies
Styling Sven Alberding
Photographs Warren Heath

 

You’d be forgiven if you thought you were listening to a Michelin-starred chef when you hear Luke Whearty talk about cocktails. Luke, a long-haired Australian with the kind of relaxed deconstructed style that would be at home anywhere from Kreuzberg to Fitzroy to Bali is extolling the natural wealth of South Africa from behind the bar in his latest venture Outrage of Modesty in Cape Town. The name Outrage of Modesty is an official police offense in Singapore where Luke has another acclaimed bar, Operation Dagger.

Luke Whearty Outrage of Modesty
Luke in action –from grinding spices in a mortar and pestle to harnessing liquid nitrogen, a drink at Outrage of Modesty involves various other contraptions and equipment you’d expect to see in a Michelin star restaurant.

Now in its latest incarnation as Outrage of Modesty, it’s part Scandinavian and Japanese in design, with a giant artwork by Cheyenne Randall of JFK and Jackie O (complete with sleeves and neck tattoos) looking over you. Clean, and uncluttered yet designed for observation and drama, it’s somewhere between a high-end sushi bar, a sauna, a fighting pit and an intimate theatre. The seating which is limited to 20 people (booking essential) is slightly tiered down to the focal point of the bar, where like an open kitchen you can view Luke and his team at work.

Luke Whearty Outrage of Modesty
Luke Whearty foraging in the forests of the Western Cape where meditterranean pine trees and indigenous vegetation meet.

The bar itself is kitted out more like a high-tech kitchen with contraptions that emit liquid nitrogen, what looks like a sous vide and other devices that look like they are there for making tinctures and elixirs. There’s no brand-name liquor in sight, just a bottle of home-made banana wine and a few bottles of mystery distillations. As Whearty moves calmly between stations, constructing the drinks and engaging with his customers, perhaps the most noticeable thing about Outrage of Modesty is that there’s no crazed, surging scrum, preening of egos and waving of cash or Amex cards. If you’re there, you have their undivided attention.

Luke Whearty Outrage of Modesty
The Salty Dog

Welcome to the modern bar. Gone are the days where bars and punters were solely focused on excess and the promised value of two-for-one specials, happy hour, sweet, sugary cocktails with umbrellas and swizzly straws. Whearty is at the forefront of a new breed of bars and bartenders (or if you prefer the term, mixologist) who value quality over quantity, story of sugar and creation of commercialism. Don’t expect him to flair bottles and set fire to punters eyebrows any more than you’d expect Heston Blumenthal to sling burgers.

Luke Whearty Outrage of Modesty
The entrance to the bar displays pink neon lettering designed by Luke

Dividing his time between Operation Dagger in Singapore and Outrage of Modesty in Cape Town (with a Melbourne project in the pipeline), Whearty sees a visit to South Africa as a chance to truly experiment with fresh indigenous produce from buchu to pelargoniums, nartjies to seaweeds.

Luke Whearty Outrage of Modesty
Applebos and Watermelon & Rosemary cocktails

“It’s such a breath of fresh air coming from Singapore where everything is imported, there’s no agriculture.  It’s really hard to get really excited about what you’re doing. Being from Oz and having this similar bio-diversity I have this surreal sense of familiarity between Cape Town and Australia. I would honestly say it is some of the most beautiful coastline in the world.”

Like his chef friends and icons, there’s an element of alchemy to what Whearty does as he pushes the boundaries with his bars in Singapore, Cape Town and soon Melbourne. Structured and spontaneous, foraged and finessed, crushed and sorted, burned and vaporized, distilled and delivered – he’s serving up something fresh every time.

RECIPES

Salty Dog

  • 30 ml Salty Dog Sake
  • 20 ml House Vermouth
  • 5 ml Fresh Lime

Combine all ingredients in shaker and shake with blocked ice. Double strain into ceramic cup and over large clear block of ice. Garnish with Lemon Verbena.

How to make Salty Dog Sake

800 ml Sake
400 ml Sugar Syrup
50 g Seaweed
25 g Mandarine or Orange Peel

Combine all ingredients in vac bag and let to rest overnight at room temperature.

Salty Dog
Salty Dog

Caperitif

  • 40ml Caperitif (or wine-based vermouth)
  • 20ml Mandarine Juice
  • 10ml Water
  • 20ml Soda

Add all ingredients over cubed ice, garnish with wild buchu and serve with glass straw.

Caperitif
Caperitif

Applebos (non-alcoholic)

  • 120ml Apple Juice

Heat red apple juice on stove to 80 degrees Celsius.

Pour slowly over apple bush tea and serve to guest.

Applebos
Applebos

Apple Bush Tea.

  • 100g Rooibos Tea
  • 100g Puffed Rice
  • 25g Star Anise
  • 10g Dried Lemon zest
  • 5g Dried Strawberries
  • 25g Red Apples
  • Corn flowers to colour

Watermelon and Rosemary (non-alcoholic)

  • 6 x Pieces Fresh Watermelon
  • 20 ml Lime
  • 15ml Agave Nectar
  • 20 ml Soda Water

Muddle Watermelon in bottom of shaker before adding all ingredients (except soda) in Shaker and shake with blocked ice. Strain neat into Stemless Champagne flute, add soda and garnish with fresh sprig of wild rosemary.

Watermelon & Rosemary Cocktail
Watermelon & Rosemary

Milk and Honey

  • 80 ml Milk & Honey Mix

Pour chilled Milk & Honey mix into white ceramic cup. Garnish with milk snow and honey comb. 

Milk & Honey Mix

  • 800 ml Full Cream Milk
  • 400 ml Brandy
  • 200 ml Swartland Honey
  • 15 g Fig Leaves
  • 1 x cinnamon quill
  • 1 x whole nutmeg (cracked)

Combine all ingredients in saucepan and heat until roughly 60 degrees (too hot for finger at 3 seconds. Once heated take off heat and leave to cool. Once cooled, strain, bottle and refrigerate for service.

Milk & Honey cocktail
Milk & Honey

Milk Snow

  • 800 ml Full Cream Milk
  • 200 ml Swartland Honey
  • 15 g Fig Leaves

Combine all ingredients in saucepan and heat until roughly 60 degrees (too hot for finger at 3 seconds. Once heated take off heat and leave to cool. Once cooled, strain into cream siphon, charge with 2 c NO2 bulbs and refrigerate for service.

Honey Comb

  • 75 g Swartland Honey
  • 140 g Liquid Glucose
  • 400 g Castor Sugar
  • 90 ml Water
  • 25 g Baking Soda

Place the honey, liquid glucose, water and sugar in a large heavy-based saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and cook until the mixture starts to turn to light golden color. Mix in baking soda. The mixture will erupt into a foaming mass. Pour immediately into a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Leave to cool, then place in the fridge to set for approx 7-10 minutes. Store in airtight jar of not using immediately.