On The Shelf – Sierra Nevada Brewing 2014 Narwhal Imperial Stout

By The Gentleman

Before I begin I just want to say that anyone who doesn’t like annoying, kind of funny, repetitive Internet songs that get stuck in your head for a decade should probably stop reading right now…okay are they gone? Good, then let’s begin.

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I want to take you back over ten years, to a time before YouTube, when finding hilarious online videos usually involved a trip to Newgrounds or some other Flash video portal. During this time there was one particular Flash cartoon creator who was like the Devil incarnate for catchy Internet videos : Jonti Picking and the Weebl Stuff website. Picking had a gift for creating repetitive songs that could drill deep down into your brain. Years after seeing a video you’d still find yourself humming along to Magical Trevor, Badger, Badger, Badger, or the Kenya song. Once you heard one of these songs it was impossible to forget it. Someone starts talking about Kenya (or Norway…more like Snoreway!) and all I can see is little dancing Lions and Tigers and all I can hear is an Englishman singing “Come to Kenya” with a really annoying trumpet accompaniment. Basically the point of this is the whole time I was drinking the Sierra Nevada 2014 Narwhal Imperial Stout all I could think of was “Narwhals! Narwhals! Swimming in the ocean causing a commotion coz they are so awesome”:

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I’d like to talk about the delicious thick, creamy, brown head and the big, rich, roasted coffee and chocolate flavour of this Imperial Stout, which smelt just as good as it tasted and went down surprisingly smoothly with little bitterness or over the top boozyness despite clocking in at a beastly 10.2% ABV, but really all I can think about is Narwhal’s and how they are so awesome. Did you know they are the Jedi’s of the sea AND they invented the shish kebab? Looking at the bad-ass Narwhal on the Sierra Nevada label it’s easy to believe these things. They look like a creature that doesn’t mess about and just gets straight down to the business of being awesome, much like the Narwhal Imperial Stout.

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Apparently the Narwhal Imperial Stout is a beer that gets better with age, but I don’t think I’d be able to have it in the house for any length of time. Every time I see it I’d just start thinking about Narwhal’s and singing that damn song, it would slowly drive me insane. No this is one to drink as soon as you can get your hands on it.

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Now Serving – Pommie Pimm’s Jug

By The Lady

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Our final installment in the Pomegranate Trilogy is a twist on a British classic. We had some much fun with the Tangy Friday, and got a bit fancy with the What A Steal!, this time we wanted to go back to one of our favourites. Ages ago, we spoke about mixing up some delicious Pimm’s Cups, and at a recent party that we hosted, we thought the best way to wow our guests was to get our jugs (of Pimm’s) out. Not long after the party, we were gifted the bag ‘o’ pomegranates and knew that some were destined to be in our recently revived classic. We present to you our Pommie Pimm’s Jug!

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Pommie Pimm’s Jug (Makes four tall glasses):

1 orange cut into slices

1 lime cut into slices

1/2 a cucumber cut into slices

8 strawberries, sliced

Pomegranate Seeds from 1 pomegranate

60mL Vanilla Simple Syrup (from the What a Steal!)

120mL Pimm’s

90mL Kangaroo Island Spirits Old Tom Aged Gin

Juice of 1 Pomegranate

Lemonade to serve

Ice, to serve

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Add all the chopped fruit, chopped cucumber, and the pomegranate seeds, as well as the Pimm’s, the gin, the Vanilla Simple Syrup, and the pomegranate juice into large bowl to leave to infuse. Sit for about 10-15 minutes. Half fill a tall glass with the Pimm’s mixture and some ice. Top your glass with lemonade. Add a fancy straw, and umbrella, and you’ve got yo’self a tasty Pommie Pimm’s Jug!

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We’re pretty happy with our twist on one of our favourite classics. The pomegranates and vanilla syrup gave the drink a unique flavour perfect for surprising and impressing your friends. The Pommie Pimm’s Jug had a lovely cucumber scent as well as an intensely delightful fruity flavour. The pomegranate definitely added an extra layer of sweetness, tartness, and an overall tasty goodness! The Vanilla Syrup is a perfect addition and helps to balance out all the flavours from the fruit, cucumber, and liquor. We’re a big fan of fruit, so we suggest when you’re pouring these out, make sure to spoon lots of fruit into your glass.

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So next time you’re hosting a party and want to get your jugs out, keep it classy and make your guests the Pommie Pimm’s Jug!

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Now Serving – What A Steal!

By The Lady

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Following the delicious results of our first pomegranate cocktail, we take it up a notch with our next installment. In take two in our Pomegranate Trilogy, we wanted to spice things up a little …  and we really mean spice things up! Again, we were so lucky to have been given for FREE(!) a sizable bag ‘o’ pomegranates, it was such a steal! Given this, we think what better to use than Stolen Spiced Rum! We invite you to take a gander at our newest cocktail – What A Steal!

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A new favourite: Settler’s Gin

What A Steal:

30mL Stolen Spiced Rum

30mL Settlers Rare Dry Gin

30mL Pomegranate Juice

15mL Vanilla Simple Syrup

Half a punnet of raspberries

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Make your vanilla syrup by prepping a 1:1 simple syrup (equal parts water and caster sugar) then add some Bourbon Vanilla Powder. We made half a cup of vanilla syrup and used roughly a quarter of a teaspoon of powder because it is pretty strong stuff. Once your syrup is ready muddle your raspberries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add your spiced rum, gin, pomegranate juice, and vanilla syrup. Shake it baby, shake it with ice. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a few extra raspberries if you feel so inclined.

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We have to say, we are digging the vanilla and rum combo. It’s kind of like a fruity, non-chocolatey truffle … if that makes sense! The vanilla, rum, and pomegranate give the drink a gorgeous aroma that immerses you in a plethora of spices and vanilla goodness. This drink was not as tangy and tart as our first pomegranate drink, but it was still as tasty. I think the What A Steal is much more of a rich drink and has a beautiful depth to the flavours included. Interestingly, the cocktail was not as fruity as you might expect it to be but was still suitably fruit flavoured. Really, the drink was more musky and woody rather than overly fruity and had an intriguing spicy aftertaste.

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We hope that you give the What A Steal a try next time you get your hands on some pomegranates. We most certainly enjoyed shaking these beauties up … and drinking them too!

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Now Serving – Tangy Friday

By The Lady

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Just putting it out there … pomegranate is somewhat of a magical fruit. We were lucky enough to be given a large bag full of pomegranates from a friend who has a tree in her back yard. Because we’re all about dem flavours at Cocktail Challenge HQ, we simply couldn’t resist a bag ‘o’ tasty, magical fruit! As we had so so many pomegranates, we decided to make a handful of cocktails to inspire, delight, and amaze y’all. Or maybe it had something to do with us craving some cocktails …

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For Christmas, The Gentleman was kind enough to gift me some Settler’s Gin. This beautiful newcomer is a South Australian made gin (yeah boy!), so naturally we had to bust this bad boy open for a cocktail worthy of its gorgeous liquor. Also, we’re all about supporting local, especially if it means we get to drink gin. Here here!

Tangy Friday:

45mL Settler’s Gin

15mL Simple Syrup

30mL Pomegranate juice

30mL Lemon juice

Add all of your ingredients into a cocktail shaker with lots of ice ice baby. Shake it all up then strain it all out into a fancy pants chilled glass. Drink. Repeat. If you like, you can also place a few extra whole pomegranate seeds into the glass. This adds and extra tangy bite at the end of the drink!

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To make our pomegranate juice, we placed the pomegranate seeds into a blender and pulsed away. Then, we strained the juice to remove the pulp and voila! Pomegranate juice. Easy as pie!

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If you’re feeling the need for a cocktail to perk you up and keep you vibrant, the Tangy Friday is certainly the one. The drink was pretty gosh darn tasty with a bitey, tangy kick. Saaaaah tangy! As you can see, the colour of the pomegranate juice in this drink added a gorgeous, inviting appearance to the drink and was clearly destined to be added to a cocktail. We’re loving the hit of the pomegranate flavour in combination with the SA great Settler’s Gin too. Keeping it local, keeping it real at The Cocktail Challenge. Please note though that it is super easy to drink, so if you’re needing to operate heavy machinery, limit yourself (if you have the willpower).

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So, if you get your hands on some damn fine Settler’s Gin and some pomegranates at the same time, we highly recommend busting out your shaker and getting some Tangy Friday action!

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Out & About – Espresso Martini at Melt Pizzeria

By The Lady and The Gentleman

After sampling the latest Coffee Experiment from Loft Wine Bar we were reminded of an experience that we meant to write up but never got round to…until now. It was during the height of the crazy February-March Adelaide event season when we managed to nab the last counter spot at one of our favourite city locations, Melt Pizzeria. It had been a long and hectic day and aside from wanting some damn fine pizza The Lady had one other craving on her mind, the perfect Espresso Martini. Let us tell you dear readers that we came pretty close to finding it that day.

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Our bartender buzzed around like a mad thing and we only caught glimpses of what was going into this glorious creation. Vodka, a large shot of freshly made espresso, and magic. The first thing we noticed and admired was the heavenly, strong coffee aroma with something a little extra going on and the thick, inviting foam. Try as we might we can never quite get enough of that delicious foam that elevates an okay to cocktail to the spectacular. We had to bow down in appreciation of the epic foam on the Melt Espresso Martini, which made you just want to eat it up. We almost didn’t want to take a sip, it looked so damn good. Of course, we did, we’re only human after all.

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Taking that first amazing sip the hidden scent in the aroma was revealed, a delicious note of orange. It was almost like drinking the best damn alcoholic, coffee infused Jaffa cake dreamt up in an Adriano Zumbo fever dream. The bitterness of the coffee was balanced out by the light creaminess of the foam and the slight sweetness and acidity of the orange yet it still tasted strong enough to keep you perked up all night long. We’ve done our own experiments with coffee and orange and this just confirmed that these two flavours deserve to be up there with other great partnerships throughout history like Ben & Jerry, Hewlett & Packard, Mawson and all the other guys who went to Antarctica but no one ever remembers. We’d like to say more but our urge to devour this amazing glass of coffee goodness took over. What we’ll leave you with is a throwing down of the gauntlet and a promise. This is probably the best Espresso Martini we’ve ever had. Period. Therefore, the rest of the Adelaide bar scene has been put on notice because we’re coming and the bar has been set.

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Out & About – Loft Oyster & Wine Bar Autumn Menu Launch 2015

By The Lady and The Gentleman

With the changing of the weather from bright, sunny, and sometimes unbearably hot Summer days to the cooler, wetter, and darker Autumn, classy Gouger St watering hole Loft Oyster & Wine Bar have launched their Autumn Menu featuring seasonally inspired cocktails and food. As you already know we are big fans of what Loft Wine Bar do (you can see our prior thoughts here and here) and we were lucky enough to attend a delightful evening at the Loft where we were able to sample the newest creations on offer. The Loft’s close proximity to the Central Markets mean they are always aware of what’s fresh and in season and like their menu to reflect that. Needless to say we were quite impressed with what the Loft will be dishing out to its customers all through Autumn.

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Stop. Cobbler Time.

The whole evening had a fun and slightly theatrical air as our knowledgeable and charming host Eddie talked about the inspiration and history behind each of the new creations. We began with the Loft’s Autumn version of the Sherry Cobbler, a drink that was basically the ‘Look at my wealth’ meme of the 1800s. It has a lot of citrus and crushed ice two things that were pretty damn expensive at the time. The drink had vodka, apple liquor, cranberry, apple and ginger cider, and pomegranates. The Cobbler was tart and sour, amplified by the sherry, with a hint of maple sweetness. There was a lot of apple flavour throughout the drink, although we thought the first few sips tasted a bit cherry-y, which brought back all sorts of flashbacks to The Lady’s summer cherry binge. The drink was light with a dry finish and it is easy to see why this drink, despite being damn expensive back in the old days, would have been so popular.

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Gin Fizz No. 53 with dill garnish

We then moved into an area of the cocktail menu we felt quite at home with, gin. Specifically, Loft prepared their Gin Fizz No. 53 (dubbed No. 53 because of all the herbs/Herbie the Love Bug). This was a bit different to other Gin Fizz’s we’ve had. We were served smaller versions of most of the drinks (otherwise it would have been a drunken gramming disaster) and the Gin Fizz’s didn’t seem to have a lot of egg white in there. Instead it was the herbs that were the star of the show. The drink had dill, mint, and thyme and it was the dill that really took over. It gave the drink a really savoury aroma and slightly savoury flavour, which was an interesting and unexpected turn. The use of dill in this drink brought The Lady back to her travels in Russia, where everything had lavish sprinklings of dill. The Gin Fizz No. 53 also used Prosecco instead of the traditional soda water and the Prosecco gave the drink quite a dry finish with a hint of alcohol.

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Tiki kitsch goodness!

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Zombie. Uuuuuunghh.

Things really started to heat up when we moved onto the Zombie. A mix of 4 or 5 different rums, including overproof rum, the Zombie is one of the quintessential Tiki cocktails. Legend has it Donn Beach created the drink to help a hung-over customer get through a business meeting, but instead turned the customer into a zombie for the next few days. Everyone got pretty excited when the Scorpion bowls (Tiki bowls for groups) and sparklers came out. All of a sudden there were a lot of people aiming to get the best photo of the flaming, sparkling Tiki ware and why not, the fire was impressive and added to the theatrics of the evening (but take care). The Zombie was definitely a crowd favourite. Balancing the different rums and fruit juice is a difficult prospect. Too much rum and it’s too strong and difficult to drink while too much fruit juice makes it too sweet and similarly unpleasant. Luckily the Zombies we had were well balanced. There was a nice sweet fruit flavour from the pineapple and passion fruit, but it didn’t fully mask the rum. There was definitely a nice kick to it that reminded you this drink is loaded and ready for bear.

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Mint Julep with some fancy pants ice

The Lady and I generally like all the cocktails we’ve tried Out & About, but there is one drink that had previously bucked that trend: the Mint Julep. A classic cocktail that is synonymous with Southern Gentleman enjoying the Kentucky Derby we ordered one, thinking we should get our head around the classics, and neither of us liked it. Since then the Mint Julep had been way down the bottom of the cocktail list, but the Loft’s Georgia Julep managed to change that. Sure it had a hell of a bourbon punch to it yet it wasn’t unpleasant. We’re pretty sure the bourbon was infused with mint, which probably gave it that something extra that changed our minds. The bourbon and mint just seemed to combine a lot better in this Julep without being too overpowering. The Georgia Julep was another drink that was up there as a favourite mainly because it managed to change our opinion of the Julep and let us feel like the fine Southern Gentlefolk we’ve always wanted to be.

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The Contender

Next up on the cocktail list was The Contender, a recipe borrowed and inspired by the incredible folk at Eau De Vie. In a typical Eau De Vie style, this cocktail was beautifully presented and tasted absolutely gorgeous! The drink was delightfully sweet and had a lingering smoky flavour from the toasted marshmallow garnish and residual smoking rosemary twig. Despite being a sweet drink, The Contender had a light and smooth texture, which was uniform with the consistency of a marshmallow. The addition of the mandarin was a surprising and enjoyable contribution to this modern classic.

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The Coffee Experiment

Finally, the The Coffee Experiment was a rich, luscious, and decadent cocktail to polish off the night. Loft’s revolving take on the ever-so-on-trend Espresso Martini, which has been ordered in some fashion 138,000 times over the last two years at Loft, used a dark rum rather than the traditional vodka standard. Loft have opted for this alteration as they believe it has a closer resemblance to the coffee flavours and characteristics than vodka. The Coffee Experiment was an excellent fusion of flavours and gave us an energetic kick at the end of our festivities. The coffee was strong, it went down smoothly, and had a bitter coffee finish with just some dark rum lurking around.  We believe this is possibly our favourite drink of the night, but we’ll be honest, they were all pretty darn delicious!

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Truffle Sui Mai

Overall, all the drinks looked and tasted incredible. They were all extraordinarily eye catching, with each cocktail having their own little personality. This was further enhanced by the little stories and background information from our wonderful host Eddie.

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Peking Duck Pancake

The food served throughout the night was equally as delicious. We would like to mention that the staff at Loft made up a special serving of food for The Lady in order to accommodate her vegetarian persuasion. They went out of their way to impress everybody on the table, and made sure everybody was looked after. Their premium quality food and drinks, as well as their high attention to detail, make Loft Oyster and Wine Bar a really special place well worth the visit.

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Deconstructed Cheesecake

It was great to meet other fellow bloggers and Instagramers too. We caught up with our friend Lee from Adelaide Food Central, we met Dee of dBites (to my excitement), and were introduced to the stunning photography of @duydash. There were many other lovely people at the event with which we were were lucky enough to share the evening with.

Overall, we were impressed yet again by our experience at Loft Oyster & Wine Bar. We highly recommend that y’all check out their Autumn menu. What’s not to love about sipping down some cocktails and nibbling on delicious treats?

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Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was invited by Loft Oyster & Wine Bar to their Autumn launch and were provided complimentary cocktails and food for this article. Although this post is sponsored all opinions are our own.

On The Shelf – Evil Twin Brewing Yin Imperial Taiji Stout

By The Gentleman

Do you know what’s fun? Standing around an open bonfire feeling its warmth while roasting marshmallows. That is until you realise you stink of smoke and your clothes are covered in little flakes of ash. God damn ash. Drinking the Evil Twin Yin Imperial Taiji Stout went a long way in replicating that experience without all that annoying ash. Winning.

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Evil Twin is another of the new Danish gypsy brewers who produce all kinds of crazy beer that are regarded as some of the best new beers in the world. I have to admit I’d seen gypsy brewer mentioned in regards to a few other labels and had no idea what it means. This time I looked it up and it means the company do not have brewing facilities of their own. Instead they collaborate with larger brewers that have excess production capacity. It’s a pretty crazy, but also reasonable idea when you think about it. Not everyone has ‘dat brewery facility money’. The Yin Imperial Taiji Stout, which has a simple but eye-catching label, is brewed at Two Roads Brewing Co in Connecticut and is actually meant to be consumed as one half of a Black and Tan with the Yang Imperial IPA making up the other half. I only had the Yin, but it was damn fine on its own.

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The Evil Twin Yin poured pitch black with a slight mocha head that dissipated very quickly. The beer smelt so smoky with a definite woodiness to it. I almost thought Smokey Bear was going to pop out and ask where the forest fire was. Seriously, I thought the smoke was just going to overpower everything. It was pretty damn intense. Luckily the more you drank it, and the closer it got to room temperature, the more you could pick up on the dark chocolate and more of a roasted flavour in amongst the smoke. I expected some creaminess and maybe a bit of vanilla, but it had quite a dry and bitter chocolate finish, although the last few mouthfuls were a bit smoother. The dry, bitter chocolate finish was definitely pleasant and quite long-lasting. You don’t really scull your way through this beer. It’s more something you sit back on a cold and windy night to enjoy slowly as the booze (and it had a heavy kick to me) tricks your body into feeling warm.

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I’d definitely be interested in getting the Yang to try the Black and Tan. The Yin is pretty bold so I’m really curious to see how the flavours interact and what gets enhanced/toned down. On its own though Yin was pretty tasty and gets bonus points for evoking those bonfire nights. Word of warning though things are still going to smell pretty smoky. The first thing The Lady said when she walked into the room was “it smells like beer…and smoke in here”. You may not be able to get rid of the smell, but at least you’ll have beer and won’t be covered in ash.

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