New Book – The Flavour Thesaurus : Pairings, Recipes and Ideas for the Creative Cook

By the Lady

Flavour Thesaurus

I have a secret to tell you. This isn’t a new book for me. I’ve had it for years. However, it may be new for you and that’s new enough for us all! I feel it is my duty to share this little gem with y’all, as it is not only useful for cocktail connoisseurs such as yourselves, but also perfect for the budding or full-blown professional chef.  Allow me to present to you The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit.

Flavour Thesaurus 1

This book is designed for those who have a particular ingredient, for example cherries, and are looking for a flavour to pair it with or even those who are looking to for an unusual or exciting flavour combination. The Gentleman uses it as his go to book whenever he’s experimenting with new cocktail syrups or cold brew coffees, tasty pairings such as cardamom coffee. Yum!

Flavour Thesaurus 2

The book is arranged into different sections which categorise the essence of that ingredient. Some examples of categories that would be useful to the cocktail connoisseur would be “Floral Fruity”, “Fresh Fruity”, “Citrussy” etcetera.  These sections make it much easier to search for flavours and you’re also sure to come across some unlikely and delightfully surprising pairings.

 

Aside from being a smart little kitchen and bar companion, The Flavour Thesaurus is absolutely gorgeous. The cover design and pages throughout are clean and stylishly timeless. The colour pairings work just as well as the flavour combinations do and is a well thought out extension of the book’s ethos. Additionally, similar to the old Russian and English classics my grandmother kept of her bookshelves with the gold trim along the pages, The Flavour Thesaurus has a sturdy and delightful cover accompanied by bright pink trim along the edges of the pages. To me, it feels like a nod to these classic novels, but with a modern approach. A modern kitchen classic with a bright and flavourful exterior to match the words within.

Flavour Thesaurus 3

The Flavour Thesaurus really is the perfect book for adventurous cooks and the cocktail extraordinaire who is stuck for inspiration or is feeling a little daring. I urge you all to go pick up your own copy. Not only will you be a master of modern mixology, but it’ll brighten up your life – and your bookshelf too!

 

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On the Shelf – Sixpoint Brewery Righteous Ale

By The Gentleman

 

It has been a rather long engagement but my first experience of Sixpoint Brewery is at an end. The last beer is the Righteous Ale, an unusual brew using rye malt, which Sixpoint says will “provide a signature and distinct earthy character”. I say it is unusual because I can’t quite remember having another beer made specifically with rye malt so as far I know this is a first for me, which I am definitely okay with. The Righteous Ale is another of Sixpoint’s core beers and is available all year-round for your drinking pleasure.

Righteous Ale

By now you know all about my love of Sixpoint Brewery’s design aesthetic for their impressive beer cans. I’m not going to repeat myself too much because that would just be boring and dull. What I will say is I really appreciate the way the colouring on the Righteous Ale can subtly reflects the colour of the beer in the glass. When you pour out the Righteous Ale it has quite a dark brown colour but when the light hits it the beer has this deep red tinge to it which is very similar to the deep red of the can. Little touches like that just make me all giddy inside. I do have to say I like the way the design emphasises the word Righteous. All Sixpoint’s core beers, bar The Crisp, are ales so it really isn’t necessary to emphasise that it is an ale in the name. Instead Righteous really stands out, even more so with Ale in smaller font next to it. The beer features another of Sixpoint’s logos, this time it is  a strong fist. It definitely fits with the Righteous label, helping to invoke a sense of righteous fury, which I’m not quite sure that’s what they were going for with their talk of monks but that’s all I can think of when I look at it. I still think the Bengali Tiger has the best logo, but the Righteous Ale is probably my second favourite.

Righteous Ale

As I said earlier when you pour out the Righteous ale it has quite a prominent brown colour with a slight tinge of deep red when the light catches it. I didn’t get much head when I poured it, although that could be down to my pouring skills and lack of appropriate beer glasses (too little money, too many things to buy). The beer had quite a strong smell, I thought I got hints of dark chocolate  as well as the usual strong whiff of malt and hops. The Righteous Ale is another relatively strong beer with a 6.3% ABV  and the taste is quite bitter due to its 57 IBU but nowhere near as bitter as the Global Warmer. Now that was a bitter beer. The beer has a pleasant bitterness that isn’t too overpowering. For me the dominant flavour was a deep caramel and then a mix of citrus, I can’t quite put my finger on what, and some definite spiciness which I assume is coming from the rye. Drinking the beer you get a real strong mouth coating of bitter hops and you were left a definite bitter, but very pleasant aftertaste that stayed with you for sometime after you’d finished.

Righteous AleRighteous Ale

Coming to the end I think it is hard to say which Sixpoint beer was my favourite. Despite all being ales Sixpoint have crafted some very different flavours from the very citrusy Bengali Tiger to the super bitter Global Warmer and the spicy rye of the Righteous Ale. I think any beer drinker would be able to pick up what Sixpoint is putting down. If it came down to it I’d probably give the Begali Tiger the edge just because I liked the overall design of the can the most and the citrusy flavours were so intense and refreshing but the Righteous Ale definitely offers something a little bit different with its rye spiciness.

Sixpoint Brewery Ales

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Boozefood – Orange Gin Biscuits

By The Gentleman

 

So somehow The Lady and I managed to be cooped up on World Gin Day. I don’t even know how this happened, but it did, and it almost ruined our day until I realised we had sufficient stocks of gin to break it down gin-style at home. I whipped up a cheeky gin and tonic for The Lady, but thought ‘this is World Gin Day I’ve got to do something a bit special’ so lo and behold Orange Gin Biscuits. Adapted from the Mojito Cookies on Giraffes Can Bake, which I still want to try and make, they were the perfectly gintastic baked good I was looking for to celebrate this wonderful spirit.

Melbourne Gin

Servings: 18-24 suggested but I got 48

Ingredients

For the cookies:

170g unsalted butter, room temperature

300g caster sugar, plus extra for rolling cookies in

Zest of half a navel orange

2 egg yolks

120ml sour cream

2 tbsp navel orange juice

1 tbsp Melbourne Gin Company Gin

1 tbsp juniper berries, ground

375g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Orange Gin Biscuits

For the glaze

60ml Melbourne Gin Company Gin

3 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp navel orange zest

1 tsp juniper berries, ground

2 tsp navel orange juice

Orange Gin Biscuits

Directions

1. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

2. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed (beware of flying sugar here, why is creaming butter and sugar always so messy?). Add the orange zest, orange juice, gin, juniper berries and egg yolks and combine. Beat in sour cream until just combined. Recommended – you’ve got the gin out, you’re working up a sweat in the kitchen, you DESERVE a gin and tonic. Go on.

3. In a separate bowl, gin and tonic in hand, add the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to stir and aerate (I was too lazy to do this and instead put all the dry ingredients in a sieve and added them that way). Gradually add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and combine on a low speed until all mixed in.

4. Place teaspoon sized drops of dough on baking sheet with at least 2 inches space between each one. Sprinkle with caster sugar. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

5. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes until they are slightly golden and set.

6. Combine the glaze ingredients in a bowl and brush over warm cookies with pastry brush. Leave cookies to cool on wire rack.

Orange Gin Biscuits

So I made a few changes to the recipe from Giraffes Can Bake. I chose navel oranges specifically because after doing a bit of digging I found that Melbourne Gin Company gin is distilled with navel oranges so ideally the two flavours would compliment each other. Juniper berries were chosen, obviously, because juniper is the cornerstone ingredient of any gin, plus I had never really baked anything with juniper so I was curious to see how they would flavour something baked.  I toned down the amount of sugar as the navel oranges would be quite sweet anyway in comparison to the tart lime in the Mojito Cookies. I also upped the amount orange juice in the biscuits and the glaze because I not only wanted the sweetness but really wanted the biscuits to taste of orange. I hand ground my juniper berries so they were quite big bits still, which I didn’t mind because they gave the biscuits a bit of character, but with a spice grinder you could get them down to a really fine powder. Generally laziness also meant I just sprinkled my biscuits with some sugar as opposed to coating them. The biscuits do spread quite a fair bit and I probably overloaded my trays with too many biscuits, some emergency surgery was required to separate a few. I struggled to get my biscuits as thin as Giraffes Can Bake, I found the mixture quite sticky and hard to spread, so it meant the biscuits were a little chubbier but hey that’s just more to love right?

Orange Gin Biscuits

Sitting here, thinking about the biscuits, all I can think of is how fresh they tasted. Not fresh as in ‘just out of the oven’, although I did sample one as they were still warm which is my major weakness in baking, but the freshness from the orange. Every bite fills your mouth with this delicious fruity orange flavour. I don’t normally glaze my biscuits, again lazy, but here you can’t not do it. The glaze just takes these biscuits to the next level as it gives them a second dose of the core flavours of gin, orange and juniper. I’d say that the gin doesn’t really impart a particularly strong flavour, instead it helps to bring out the full orange flavour without making the biscuits too sweet and gives the biscuits a really botanical, spicy sort of smell. It’s not like just putting orange juice in the biscuits, I think the gin and the juniper give the flavour some complexity that is quite nice. I probably could have cooked my biscuits for a little longer. Still, overall the texture was quite nice. The sour cream, which I’d never used when making biscuits, definitely gives them a bit of tanginess and helps them stay quite light. Being a little chubbier they had a lovely fluffy, cakey sort of texture with a slightly crisp outer. Inside they were also quite moist and again I think the glaze has helped stop them from drying out.

Orange Gin Biscuits

We may not have made it our for World Gin Day but that doesn’t mean we didn’t celebrate in style. These Orange Gin biscuits worked perfectly as they were packed full of flavour, giving an orange kick to your taste buds that you won’t soon forget or regret, and the base biscuit recipe from Giraffes Can Bake provides a lot of opportunities to explore new flavour combinations. Now go on and treat yourself, you deserve it.

 

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Now Serving – The Deadline

By The Gentleman

 

As you may recall it was end of semester time around Cocktail Challenge HQ as The Lady knuckled down to smash out her last essays. As the night dragged on, the light summer fruityness of the Campari and Corona didn’t cut it. This was serious business with a serious deadline and The Lady needed something strong. Enter The Deadline, a spicy, herbal libation that will help you own your deadlines (or at least that’s what we would say if advertising regulations didn’t forbid the promotion of the effects of alcohol in such a way).

The Deadline

The Deadline

45 ml Four Pillars Gin

30ml Pineapple Sage and Juniper Simple Syrup

20 ml fresh lemon juice

2 good dashes of Angostura Bitters

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and with ice. Give it a good shake. Then strain into glass.

The Deadline

So you’re probably noticing this Pineapple Sage and Juniper Simple Syrup. Yeah I was tinkering again. During the summer I planted a whole bunch of herbs to make shrubs with and now that we are in Winter they have mostly died off, except this Pineapple Sage plant which must have ‘I Will Survive’ as it’s theme song. It keeps growing bigger and bigger and I decided it was about time I did something with it. You can definitely use normal Sage for equally as good results. The method I used for this simple syrup is a little different to others you might have read but I read on some blog somewhere that this method gives a better flavour. Who really knows but for me it worked fine. I also used raw sugar because that is what we always have handy. I think it gave the syrup a deeper caramel sort of flavour and colour.

 

Pineapple Sage and Juniper Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup raw sugar

8 Pineapple Sage leaves

15 Juniper Berries + 5

In a pan bring your cup of water to a simmer over a medium-high heat. Add your sage leaves and the 15 juniper berries. Simmer for about 2 and a half minutes. Add your sugar and simmer until dissolved. Remove from the heat to cool then add the extra 5 juniper berries. Once cooled strain into a jar or bottle.

 

By now you’ve probably realised that we are fans of gin and have a particular love affair with local distiller Four Pillars. Surprisingly this was the first drink we had made with Angostura Bitters that classic bitters everyone knows about and everyone seemingly has stashed away somewhere (like we did…it was a rather vintage bottle I think). The two combined exceptionally well to make this drink. The first thing you’ll notice about The Deadline is it smells amazing with all the spices from the bitters, the simple syrup and the botanicals from the gin. I could strongly smell juniper and allspice berries (or something like that). I was a little heavy handed with the bitters (what’s a dash anyway) but luckily Angostura Bitters have both a pleasant aroma and taste that it didn’t really matter. It reminds me of when I was little and would bake with my mum. I’d open the cupboard to get the spices and you’d just be hit with this strong yet enticing and warming baking spice smell. Anything that reminds me of those good childhood times is definitely a plus in my book. The drink has a really pleasant sweetness to it, not overly sweet but more of a tangy sweetness probably from the lemon juice.  The drink is quite layered between all the flavours and a bit mysterious, but like I said I went a little crazy with the bitters and they really rock it. One sip was heavily spiced then another was citrusy, another sweet and finally boozy. It leaves a very nice feeling in your mouth, with a good coating and nice pleasant burn.  The Lady could also pick up some pineapple from the pineapple sage which is good as I wasn’t sure how much flavour the leaves would give out and whether the raw sugar would overpower them.

The Deadline

A spicy, sweet, bold drink that doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to flavour The Deadline is what you need when you’re working to a deadline. A serious drink for serious business.

The Deadline

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Small Mouth Week – Now Serving – Small Sunset

By The Lady

As this is our last date with Small Mouth Vodka,  we thought it would be rather romantic if we took it to see the sun go down. With our first taste of the adorable Small Mouth, we went for a classic. For the second, we opted for something with a bit more of a buzz. We’ll admit, this next one is a strong drink which packs a punch, but by gosh it was delicious. And, in our opinion, the perfect way to finish off Small Mouth Week. We’d like to introduce you to … Small Sunset.

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We used :

85mL Small Mouth Vodka (We are aware that this is a lot of vodka. Stay with us … )

40mL Orange, Kiwi Fruit & Cayenne Shrub (super secret recipe made by The Gentleman)

10mL Organic Ginger Syrup by The Ginger People

2 Dashes of Mister Bitters Pink Grapefruit & Agave Bitters

Lots of ice

1 dash of Cawsey’s Grenadine

Orange peel to garnish

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Shake your vodka, shrub, ginger syrup, bitters and ice in a cocktail shaker. Leave a few ice cubes aside for the end.  Strain your drink out into a glass without the ice cubes used in the shaker. Put two or so fresh ice cubes in your drink. Carefully and slowly pour the grenadine over the back of a spoon into your drink. You should get a look where the red colour sits at the bottom of the glass and fades upwards. If you haven’t done this before, I would suggest doing a test run with a glass of water so you can practise. At the very end, add your orange peel by twisting it before placing it on the surface of the drink. This will help release some of the orange smell and flavour.

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So, we’ll admit, this is a lot of vodka. But, to be honest, because Small Mouth is such a high quality  vodka, it tastes quite delicious. We thought it tasted quite smooth and not overly boozy at all. If you were to use a cheaper or low quality vodka, I would suggest using less, perhaps 60mL instead. Also, if you don’t have access to purchase shrubs, or don’t know how to make it, you could use orange juice with a pinch of cayenne pepper instead. Overall, the drink was very delicious, and was a very pretty looking drink. The drink has a very nice mouth feel, really coating your tongue with all the powerful flavours we’ve got going on. It wasn’t quite as intense as the Señor Shrub, which left your mouth buzzing with flavour 5 minutes after you’d taken a mouthful, but there was definitely some magic happening. All the flavours went well together, and the orange peel at the end was a lovely touch to accentuate the orange flavours (kudos to us).

Grenadine 2

We’re a little sad to be ending Small Mouth Week, but we have a feeling this is not the end for us. The possibilities are endless with Small Mouth Vodka, and we think there is a future for us together, an oh so boozy future. In moderation of course ;).

 

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Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was provided a free sample bottle of Small Mouth Vodka for this article. Although this post is sponsored all opinions are our own. Thanks again to Small Mouth Vodka for supplying us with this sample and giving us an opportunity to get to know their vodka. 

Small Mouth Week – Now Serving – Cold Hug

By The Lady

 

For our second date with Small Mouth Vodka this week during Small Mouth Week, the Gentleman and I decided to go for another coffee based cocktail – coffee and Small Mouth, sounds good to me! We based the recipe off of a local news site’s suggestion for winter warmer cocktails. We think cocktails are great any time of year to be honest, but the news is telling us to indulge, so I suppose we’ll have to.

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For our cocktail, we used:

40mL Cold Brew Coffee using Barossa Coffee Roasters Single Origin Brazillian (beans purchased from Sad:cafe)

15 mL Maple Syrup

50mL Small Mouth Vodka

Lemon Peel

 

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Shake up your vodka, coffee, maple syrup and some ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake it like a Polaroid picture. You know you want to! Strain out your cocktail sans ice into your fancy shmancy cocktail glass. Peel yourself some lemon peel in a long strip. Hold the peel over the glass and twist the peel before placing it over the edge of the glass or wherever you like in the glass. This helps to release some of the citrusy flavour. Or at least, we think it does!

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And tada! A coffee cocktail to keep you happy and keep you awake! The twist of lemon gives the drink a really lovely citrus scent and goes surprisingly well with the coffee. The drink tastes and smells like a coffee flavoured dessert, which I am always in favour of. We can understand why it was listed as a ‘winter warmer’, because it has a delightful warmth and cosiness to it, with a tingle going down your throat as you drink – like a hug for your taste buds! Perhaps things really are heating up for us on this second date? I think if you were to more vigorously shake the cocktail shaker (more so than we did) you would be able to get a foamy topping to the drink, but in this respect we will try again. Oh well, we’ll have to drink more. Oh no …

Small Mouth Vodka

We are loving what Small Mouth Vodka has to offer. It is a very tasty and versatile drink. We know it’s only the second date, but we think we might be falling in love. Is it too soon to say? We think not, because this one’s a beauty!

 

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Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was provided a free sample bottle of Small Mouth Vodka for this article. Although this post is sponsored all opinions are our own.

Small Mouth Week – On The Shelf – Small Mouth Vodka

By The Gentleman

 

So, this is the first post of a special week here at The Cocktail Challenge, it is our first sponsored week of posts! We are pretty excited, it makes us feel like real live bloggers. Soon, we’ll be jet-setting and getting fast-tracked entry into all the clubs. Wait, no, we’re meant to say how we do this because we love it and its fun and any opportunity like this that comes along is just a bonus because that is totally true. We really do do this because we love it and its fun and discovering and promoting brands like Small Mouth is what this is all about. So sit back, relax and enjoy Small Mouth Week – our look at Small Mouth Vodka.

Smallmouth Vodka

Based in New South Wales, Small Mouth Vodka is an organic Australian craft vodka founded by Chris Payton and Rohan Rivett. The vodka is copper pot distilled 9 times and charcoal filtered 3 times to give the vodka a fresher, pure taste. It is made without any preservatives, artificial additives, colours and flavours. Small Mouth joins a growing market of craft spirits in Australia, as producers put their beverage know how towards not only craft beer but premium spirits and people like us get to drink the excellent results. Small Mouth aims to be a more drinkable, sippable vodka that also goes great in cocktails.

Smallmouth Vodka

The folks at Small Mouth sent us a rather stylish little sample bottle. The blue and white gingham pattern on the back of the bottle in addition to the bright yellow wax seal reminds us of a summer picnic complete with a cute gingham picnic rug. The wax seal is also a classy little touch that gives the bottle some added style. The colours are gorgeous and vibrant, with the yellow popping out like citrus in a cocktail. It’s ultra eye catching and just so gosh darn adorable. Jon Hamm would probably say it has a simple classic design to highlight the fabulousity of the vodka.

Smallmouth Vodka

To taste the vodka, I whipped up The Lady and I an Extra Dry Vodka Martini. We’re still developing our martini pallet but thought to give the vodka a proper try it was really the perfect choice. The drink calls for drops of dry vermouth and 1ml of lemon juice but ain’t nobody got time to measure like that so it’s a little adjusted.

Extra Dry Martini

Extra Dry Small Mouth Martini

10ml Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth

60ml Small Mouth Vodka

5-10ml lemon juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Extra Dry Martini

Okay so firstly I really need to practice on my lemon twists. The internet keeps lying to me about how easy they are meant to be. So excuse the poor excuse for a lemon twist in the photos. I am quite ashamed. What is important is how the vodka tasted and on that front it was all positives. I have to admit that previously my experiences with vodka have been pretty typical and rather uninspiring. The occasional horrible shot at parties, vodka and insert mixer here where all you really taste is the mixer and buried under layers of other spirits and mixers in a cocktail where you wouldn’t even know you were having vodka. I had a friend who was rather well to do, she may or may not have technically been a Princess we still aren’t sure, and when we would go out she would always drink vodka on the rocks. We would look at her with a mix of disgust and astonishment as she downed these drinks. She always tried to tell us that if you have good quality vodka then it was really quite enjoyable. We just thought she was crazy and continued to drink our mixers and beers and such. I’d also bought into the whole idea that vodka is meant to be odorless and relatively tasteless. Small Mouth is definitely changing my idea about vodka. It’s not an infused vodka yet when you read on Small Mouth’s website that it contains hints of vanilla and citrus you actually believe them. I didn’t pick up on the vanilla very much, but that might have just been adding to the smell of the vodka which was very clean. The Lady thought the vodka had a very pleasant botanical scent that was so pleasant it reminded her of that very aromatic smell when you take a fresh cake out of the oven (I think she may be having a bit too much boozefood). We both thought the citrus was quite prominent and the Extra Dry Martini just amplified the citrus flavours. The citrus definitely makes it a far more drinkable vodka and you aren’t left with that awful gagging alcohol sensation or a desire to make it end as soon as possible. Don’t get me wrong this is still vodka and packs a powerful punch BUT with Small Mouth I can finally understand the idea of sipping vodka on the rocks. It was a much smoother experience that was altogether far more enjoyable than any other vodka I have had.

Smallmouth Vodka

So that’s our first post in Small Mouth Week. Think of it as the first date. We exchanged back stories, sussed each other out, shared a few awkward glances, took things slow and realised hey there’s actually a bit of a connection here. As you know things start to heat up on the second and third date and we can’t wait to get further acquainted with Small Mouth Vodka over the course of the week.

 

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Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was provided a free sample bottle of Small Mouth Vodka for this article. Although this post is sponsored all opinions are our own.