In November last year, the team at Brisbane's Treasury Casino were brain-storming ideas to develop something extra special for the venue's newly refurbished principle bar, The Kitty. Then the ball dropped, "Why don't we put a stone into a cocktail?"
In making the announcement, Queensland's capital became the unofficial home of Australia's most expensive cocktail. The Kitty on the Rocks, priced at $9,500, features Richard Hennessy, Bollinger Grand Vintage, a sugar cube soaked with Angostura Bitters and a 0.75 carat diamond that the guest can keep. The Casino requires 48 hours notice to make the drink as security guards need to collect the diamond from jewellers located in the nearby Queen Street Mall, and the Moet crystal champagne flute is engraved with a personal message.
Flight Centre is informed that there's also a bit of theatre involved with the cocktail made right in front of the patron. "This isn't just a drink. This is theatre," said Treasury Casino and Hotels Beverage Operations Manager Richard Fidelj.
However, much to the chagrin of the team at the Brisbane entertainment destination, Club 23, a bar within Melbourne's Crown complex, announced three months later in February that they offered a more expensive drink. Available for $12,725.07, The Winston consists of Grand Marnier Quintessence, Chartreuse Vieillissement Exceptionnellement Prolongé, Angostura bitters, garnished with orange and lemon peel, angelica and star anise. The high price tag is warranted by the inclusion of Cognac Croizet that dates to 1858; one bottle is valued at around $158,000.
Despite Club 23 now holding the official Guinness World Record, The Kitty can claim the concept first.
Regardless of this fascinating anecdote, the cards have come up trumps for Brisbane's only large scale gaming facility in light of Echo Entertainment's intention to construct a purpose-built $1 billion venue on a yet-to-be identified site, most likely close to the current heritage-listed building. Echo and the Queensland State Government's vision is to reshape the tourism and entertainment landscape of Brisbane, while providing an ongoing economic boost to the city.
"The opportunity to create a new entertainment precinct in the city will help to maximise Brisbane's significant growth potential in terms of increased share of key tourism markets, including gaming customers, and will reinforce Brisbane as a major draw card for tourists," said an Echo Entertainment spokesperson.
Included within the new complex will be a world-class casino, luxury hotel, premier food and beverage offerings, superior conference and function facilities, a pool and a day spa. Estimates say that the venue will attract eight million visitors each year and deliver a $210 million boost to the local economy.
Given this historic declaration, here at Flight Centre we think this is the perfect time to revisit this entertainment venue before it relocates - an experience that is both sublime and exciting given the historic nature of the building. The impressive Baroque exterior that boasts classical ionic colonnades crafted in original sandstone beckons enthusiasts forward into an interior that effortlessly blends the timeless with the contemporary.
The formal restoration process of the late-nineteenth century/early-twentieth century Treasury Building began in 1993. At the time, Design Architect David Cole said, "You can't help but be taken by the character of the architecture internally and externally. They're grand, handsome buildings and we've changed their use from effectively former private buildings in the form of Government offices now to public buildings. I think the graciousness of these spaces has been shown off beautifully with this project."
The opening ceremony took place two years later in April 1995 with the then Queensland Treasurer Keith DeLacy.
Fast forward almost twenty years and venue management have, over the past eight months, refurbished the casino's food and beverage outlets.
Top billing on the culinary ladder is Fat Noodle, which serves Vietnamese-inspired cuisine created by celebrity chef Luke Nguyen. The menu consists of noodle soups, wok-cooked meals and rice dishes. Luke was also involved in the design of the space which effortlessly transports diners into a chic Asian eatery.
"With my close connection to the food and cultures of Vietnam and China, I have created a menu featuring exotic and traditional noodle dishes found throughout South East Asia. The vitality of Asian cuisine revolves around using the freshest produce; at Fat Noodle we source only premium produce to complement our dishes, prepared with great passion and respect to the dishes' origins, regions and authenticity," said Luke.
After dinner or as a destination in itself, revellers have the opportunity of enjoying The Kitty, which was unveiled last August to coincide with the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival. While maintaining many of the heritage features such as the ornate fireplaces, designers Luchetti Krelle have created a unique ambience in each room. The main bar area is stylish and sophisticated with dark muted tones, while the rooms facing the river are bright and airy utilising to great effect a yellow and green colour palette. Bottles of spirits are available and party organisers are welcome to book private booths - suitable for between 10 and 30 guests - that come complete with dedicated wait staff.
On the weekends, the doors of the bar open onto the adjoining balcony allowing enthusiasts to appreciate the stunning views of the Brisbane River. On Sunday afternoons, live jazz musicians entertain the crowds with soothing melodies.
In addition to Fat Noodle, other restaurants within the complex include the 24/7 Kitchen at Treasury and fine-dining restaurant Marco Polo. And with the 130-room hotel situated across the square at the Treasury Heritage Hotel, punters have a place to rest their heads after exploring the entertainment options at the Treasury Casino.