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We have had a long relationship with Stefano Catino, co-founder and owner operator of Maybe Sammy. Sean and Stefano were friends in Sydney when Stef was working as a bartender and pizza chef. In 2017 we launched our brand on the east coast of Australia during Sydney Bar Week at a little unassuming pizza joint called Maybe Frank. It was actually Stefano’s first venue and the venue that fuelled his desire to build a dedicated cocktail bar along with his business partner Vince.
Stefano has long been a fan of Triple Juniper Gin, a gin that found its way into plenty of Negronis served over the bar alongside the incredible pizzas that the venue became famous for. After the gin launch, Maybe Frank became an impromptu storage facility for the remaining Never Never stock, bartenders would stop past for a slice and a cocktail and leave with a bottle of gin that Stef had managed to sell to them.
Sean would get a text message, “Hey Seany, you had better send an invoice to such and such, they took a whole case, they loved it”. It was the early days of selling booze out of the boot of a car, and it was people like Stefano who helped turn us into the brand celebrated by bartenders all across the country.
When Stef, Vince and another partner Martin, opened Maybe Sammy in 2019, it was welcomed as one of the best cocktail bars in Sydney, and just months later, it was voted Best New International Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail, the world’s most prestigious hospitality awards. It’s gone on to win many more accolades including cracking the World’s Top 50 Bar list three years in a row. The signature cocktail ‘The Sammy’ featured Never Never Triple Juniper Gin, a homage to those early days at Maybe Frank and the fact that Stef believed it to be the very best gin in Australia.
When building a Dark Series Gin for Maybe Sammy, it was important to create something that not only connected to the venue, but also to Stefano as well. Maybe Sammy has long celebrated the glitz and glamour of the 1950’s with its golden age of the Rat Pack and Hollywood pomp. No drink better cocktail celebrates the period than a classic martini so Never Never set to work to create the ultimate classic martini gin.
Inspired by Stefano’s Italian heritage and how it drives his passion for hospitality, the gin uses ingredients familiar to a Mediterranean climate. However, the most important ingredient used is Ligurian beeswax and raw honey, sourced from hives located on Kangaroo Island. This colony is incredibly rare and is the purest strain of Ligurian bees in the world. This is because Kangaroo Island has prohibited other subspecies of bee from entering the island in order to protect those established colonies. Purebred Ligurian bees have been eliminated from their homeland as a result of interbreeding and disease. Stefano is from the small town of Vernazza situated in the Ligurian region of Northern Italy and was unaware of Australia’s special connection to produce from his home.
Never Never also sourced olive brine from Lloyd Brothers Olives which is located around the corner from their McLaren Vale distillery. This brine is packed with savoury flavour and combines beautifully with the sweet floral notes of the wax and raw honey. When used in a martini, the waxy mouthfeel carries the other botanical complexities and links perfectly with the olive garnish.
The Dark Series Beeswax and Olive Gin, made in collaboration with Maybe Sammy, was built with love from ingredients intrinsic to both the identity of Stefano and the venue he helped create.