Now Serving – Tequila Jammer

By The Gentleman

Jammy Tequila

Deadlines turn me into a procrastinator, but unlike a normal person when I procrastinate I don’t just watch TV or play video games, I get in the kitchen. Procrastibaking, procrastisaucing, basically anything food related that’s a little bit different and allows me to experiment seems a hell of a lot better than studying. My latest focus is on procrastipreserving, whipping up jams and fruit butters, instead of introductions and conclusions. Preserving is great because you can use whatever fruit you happen to have available. I made a rather delicious raspberry jam, with a few extra flavours added in. While we’ve been enjoying it slathered on bagels, we’ve always got cocktails on the brain. So now we’ve added jam to a delicious cocktail. Oh my.

Jammy Tequila

Tequila Jammer
1 heaped spoon of Raspberry Jam
30mL Jalapeño Syrup (see recipe here)
60mL Espolon Blanco Tequila
250mL Fever-Tree Club Soda
4 raspberries for garnish
Ice

In your cocktail shaker add the jam, syrup and tequila. With a whisk or a fork combine the ingredients together. I did this so the jam would be mixed in and not all clumpy. You could shake it but this way I could make sure the jam had mixed in to the level I wanted. When your jam is no longer clumpy, grab a tall glass and add ice then pour in your boozy jam mix. Top with club soda and garnish with raspberries and a drizzle of extra jalapeño syrup.

Jammy Tequila

I constructed the cocktail with these ingredients in order to reflect the flavours of the jam I had made because, well,  pairing flavours is my jam (sorry I had to have at least one ‘that’s my jam’ reference in here). The jam was made from raspberries, tequila and some of the jalapeño syrup. It has a really nice fruity flavour that is no where near as sweet as commercial jam and the jalapeño syrup gives it this undercurrent of heat and something a little different. If you’re making this with store jam I’d get a seedless one but when it’s homemade you don’t really care about a little thing like seeds.

Jammy Tequila

So I’d have to start describing this little cocktail by saying that the drink was damn tasty. It looked spectacular, a very pretty deep red colour from the combination of the jam and the jalapeño syrup. The tequila and jalapeño syrup gave the drink this gorgeous spicy heat. It wasn’t overwhelming but instead left this super pleasant tingling sensation on your tongue. The jalapeño syrup also adds a smokiness to the drink, which is very nice. The raspberry jam isn’t as strong as I would have expected. Instead it adds a subtle sweetness to the drink which helps to balance out the heat from the other components. We’re also really digging putting bits of whole fruit in our cocktails at the moment. This time, the extra raspberries just soak up all the flavours and leave you with this delicious bite of sweet drunken raspberry. It is definitely an explosion of flavour in your mouth that you owe yourself to try.

 

Making the Tequila Jammer proves that avoiding deadlines and procrastipreserving is even more fun when you get cocktails out of it! The drink is a delicious mix of smoky jalapeño heat and a little raspberry sweetness that looks so impressive and tastes just as good. Things that look and taste good, well, that’s my jam (Yes, two times)!

 

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Out & About – La Moka

By The Lady

La Moka 2

A while ago, I was walking through Peel Street in my beloved hometown Adelaide as a flash of yellow caught my attention. It turns out that this was the beginning stages of what is now the new West End cafe/bar/all-round cool venue La Moka. After this sighting, The Gentleman and I put this fine, marigold establishment on our to-do list. After much anticipation, we were able to visit recently and we are delighted to share our thoughts (and sneaky photos) with y’all.

La Moka 1

First of all, this place is super cute and a delightful place to sit down and enjoy yourself. The interiors are gorgeous with fun splashes of yellow and warm tones everywhere you look. The decor and finishings bring me back to my 2012 summer holiday in Italy where I ate pasta and sipped on cocktails. Any place that helps me feel like I am on an overseas holiday gets a gold star in my books. While I didn’t get to take a peek at the upstairs area, I am sure it is also just as beautiful. Also, there are patterns everywhere you look here, and totally in a fabulous way that I 100% endorse. I am a lover of interesting patterns and complimentary patterns. For example, I pretty much want to steal this apartment. La Moka’s mix of colours and fusion of delightful patterns is spot on and makes me feel oh so happy!

La Moka 3

Pattern galore! Floor tiles, green wall tiles, gorgeous yellow chairs, wooden bar etc. I am in love.

This time, we opted just to buy some drinks but we would love to try out some of their tasty treats on offer. They have a great looking range of breakfast and lunch options as well as lots of sweet treats for any time of day. Next time, I have my heart set on a cannoli. They also do coffee all day and into the night to satisfy your craving for good coffee whenever it hits you. I ordered the Milano-Torino and The Gentleman went for the Aperol Spritz. Both these drinks were vibrant in colour and flavour as well as refreshingly delicious. The Spritz had this heavenly orange citrus aroma that just assaulted your senses in the best possible way. Despite the cool weather it went down a dream, but I have a feeling the mix of Aperol, prosecco, soda and orange will taste even better on a hot summer’s day. The deep red colour of the Milano-Torino enticed you to a very bitter, but oh so enjoyable drink. The drink was made with Campari and Carpano Antica Formula. We weren’t sure what Carpano Antica Formula was, but a quick Google search revealed it is a sweet red vermouth from, you guessed it, Italy. It’s noted for its balance of bitter-sweet flavours and that definitely shined through when paired with the Campari in the Milano-Torino. It was the type of drink you want to sit and slowly sip, while letting the day pass by, surrounded by stylish decor and plenty of food. Just what La Moka happens to offer.

La Moka 5

(L) Milano-Torino, (R) Spritz

It may be new to the city but already La Moka has already made an impression on The Gentleman and myself. Next time we’ll have to properly partake in the aperitivo culture La Moka aims to bring to Adelaide, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t already be taking yourselves down here for some post-work Campari and nibbles!

 

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Now Serving – Hendrick’s Gin & Tonic

By The Lady

Hendrick's

We here at Cocktail Challenge HQ love us some gin. Oh yes we do. So, we wholeheartedly agree that this is a super easy and really tasty classic that everybody should have at least once (read : a million times) in their lifetime. A while ago, The Gentleman bought me a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin which came with a super cute Hendrick’s cup and saucer. In this grim weather we are having Down Under, we thought it was a perfect opportunity to crack open the HG and make one of these beauties. Who am I kidding though, it’s always g&t weather!

 

30mL Hendricks Gin

150mL Schweppes Indian Tonic Water (or enough to top a glass)

Slice of cucumber, to serve

Ice, if you like

 

Pour your gin and tonic water into a glass, or Hendricks cup and saucer if you are lucky enough to own one, add ice if you like and top with a slice of cucumber to bring out the cucumber flavours in the gin. And voila! You have yourselves a perfect g&t!

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I just love the bottle and design of the Hendrick’s label. The label has a quite old fashioned look and is quite a short and stout bottle, which I think is refreshing and fits quite well considering they also produce matching “tea” cups and “tea” pots. I don’t know where or how I can get my hands on one, but I hope to one day get one of the Hendrick’s “Tea” pots to accompany my cup and saucer. They are just so gosh darn cute and would give me an excuse to fill it with the oh so lovely combination of tea and gin!

Hendrick'sHendrick's

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Now Serving – Bourbon Chocolate Brownie Milkshake

By The Gentleman

Bourbon Milkshake

This cocktail almost crosses the boundary between Boozefood and Now Serving and represents a bit of a personal victory for us. When I first found the recipe that inspired this drink, The Lady was very reluctant. You almost couldn’t get more indulgent or bizarre. The Lady thought it was madness, adding a brownie to a milkshake, to which I responded “Madness?! This! Is! Cocktails!” Eventually my pester power won her over and the super indulgent Bourbon Brownie Chocolate Milkshake was born.

Bourbon Milkshake

Bourbon Brownie Chocolate Milkshake

90mL Bulleit Bourbon
1 ½ Chocolate Brownie Squares chopped plus 1 for garnish
3 scoops chocolate ice cream
1/4 cup milk
1/4 Bourbon Chocolate Sauce plus extra for garnish

Blend the ingredients together in a milkshake maker. Depending on how thick you like your milkshake, you can add extra milk or ice cream to get the desired consistency. You will also end up with small bits of brownie still in the drink – perfect! When it’s done, drip that chocolate sauce around the inside of a Mason Jar for extra chocolate goodness. Pour in the drink then skewer the remaining brownie to garnish.

You should know that in the photo I’ve actually used twice the amounts listed. I did this because the recipe I based this on and the photo I used showed the drink overflowing with these quantities. I thought this would be enough but when I poured the first batch in, it barely filled the jar. I don’t know what size jar was used in the photo but our drink looked pretty sad so we made another batch to top it up. I also decided to make my own chocolate sauce because we didn’t have any in the house plus that’s how I roll. Besides, making my own meant I could add extra bourbon, because you can never have too much bourbon.

 

Bourbon Chocolate Sauce from Craving Chronicles

2/3 cup thickened cream
2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
170gm milk chocolate, chopped (bittersweet might be better but this was all I had)
1 tablespoon Bulleit Bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cream and brown sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture just starts to boil. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate,  stirring until it has melted and combines. Stir in your bourbon and vanilla. Taste and try not to eat it all at once.

Bourbon Sauce 2 Bourbon Sauce

You can use it immediately or transfer it to a heat safe, airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. It will thicken a bit in the fridge so when you go to use it either get it out well before or heat in a microwave safe container on defrost for 10-20 seconds or warm slowly on the stove top.

Bourbon Milkshake

The Chocolate Bourbon Sauce has a delightful boozy flavour as you only stir the bourbon in so it doesn’t cook away but instead, mixes with the chocolate and becomes so smooth. It’s very hard not to eat all the sauce before you even get to making the drink! The drink itself is an overload of flavour in the best possible way. Three shots is maybe a touch too much, depending on your relationship with bourbon, but The Lady and I are on good terms for now so we found it quite enjoyable. The bourbon gives the drink a real spiciness which shines through the whole drink. The chocolate flavour is really subtle which was unexpected given how much ice cream and sauce it had. The real star though, is the brownie. It doesn’t quite break down completely, so you’ll get little bits of brownie in each mouthful AND I totally recommend dunking the brownie garnish in the drink. It stays fairly solid yet soaks up all the boozy flavours. Biting into it at the end is amazing, an explosion of bourbon spice mixing with the chocolate of the brownie. Heaven.

Bourbon Milkshake

If you’re thinking of mixing up the Bourbon Chocolate Brownie Milkshake (and why wouldn’t you be) you might want to clear your schedule. It’s decadent, indulgent and extremely bad for you in the best possible way and will leave you in a state where you’re in capable of doing anything else but lie down on the couch feeling rather satisfied with yourself.

 

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Out & About – Loft Oyster & Wine Bar

By The Gentleman

 

After surviving the latest round of exams and end of semester craziness that turned The Lady and I into hermits we finally got the opportunity to go Out & About again for birthday drinks at swanky Gouger Street location Loft Oyster & Wine Bar. We may not like oysters but we do enjoy wine and cocktails, which the Loft has plenty of.

The Loft

Gouger Street is one of Adelaide’s main food locations, filled with many great restaurants and access to the city’s Chinatown and the Central Markets, which houses great local South Australian produce. If someone says lets go to Gouger Street for dinner then chances are you’re going to be in for a good time. While The Lady and I have eaten up and down the street it’s not necessarily where we would go for drinks so discovering The Loft Oyster & Wine Bar was a bit of a godsend as now we can pair a great night of food with some equally good drinks without having to go too far. Yeah, we’re lazy and we know it.

 

The Loft Wine Bar. Image courtesy of The Loft Wine Bar Facebook page

The Loft is a massive upstairs venue with super high ceilings. I love Adelaide’s new found love of small bars, many of my favourite venues are small bars, but there is something refreshing about being able to walk into a venue on a Saturday night and not be crammed against the wall. The Loft mixes old school service, hello table service, with some new school style. There are funky light fixtures, gorgeous design work on those high ceilings and a fully stocked bar. Some of the design choices aren’t my thing, like the glass wall that is made to look like a bookcase and the deer heads, but overall it’s a nice place to relax with friends and celebrate a birthday. It’s also the sort of place The Lady and I swoon over, imagining what we could do with the space to turn it into a loft apartment. Watch out Loft Wine Bar, when we earn our millions we’ll be back.

The Loft Wine Bar. Image courtesy of The Loft Wine Bar Facebook page

 

Perusing the cocktail list The Loft had a mix of classics and experimental signature cocktails. I tried one cocktail from each while The Lady had a glass of red wine. The first cocktail I had was the Coffee Experiment from the signature menu. I’m all for coffee cocktails. It had a vanilla flavoured liquor paired with Vietnamese cold-brew coffee and a spiced condensed milk. So effectively it was an alcoholic Vietnamese coffee. Whatever the vanilla liquor was it was quite strong, both in terms of its alcohol kick and its vanilla flavour. There wasn’t a really strong coffee flavour which was a bit surprising. I also didn’t really pick up on any of the spices in the condensed milk so I’m not sure what it was paired with. Don’t get me wrong this was very drinkable and the vanilla flavour was quite pleasant, giving a very smooth mouth feel, but I just expected a few extra notes.

The Loft

The second cocktail I had was the El Diablo from the classic menu. It had housemade ginger beer syrup, a housemade chilli cassis, reposado tequila, lime and soda. This was a super flavourful cocktail that was definitely up my alley. The mixture of the tequila, ginger beer syrup and chilli cassis gave the drink a mighty kick. Not too overpowering but instead a really enjoyable heat with a touch of spiciness from the ginger. It reminded me more of a Moscow Mule than what a classic El Diablo may taste like because the blackcurrant flavour wasn’t that noticeable. Instead that ginger beer syrup is the real star. On the topic of the ginger beer syrup I appreciated the fact that they make their own. I’ve also made my own ginger beer syrup and I can tell you the flavour is so much fresher and more intense than any store bought ginger beer, even a good quality one like Bundaberg. I also really liked the way they garnished it with half a lime just nestled on the top of the drink. Normally you just get a little wedge of lime but this was a big bit of lime which was really necessary to compete with all the other big flavours in the drink. This is definitely something I could order all night and be very happy with.

The Loft

The Loft is a great addition to Gouger Street. A nice big venue to enjoy some good cocktails. The Loft does food other than oysters so maybe next time The Lady and I will have to try some of what they have to offer but for now we are quite happy just exploring their cocktails and drinks list while imagining how cool it would be to live in this location. A guy and a girl can dream.

The Loft Wine Bar. Image courtesy of The Loft Wine Bar Facebook page

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Alaskan Rock Week – Now Serving – Bittersweet Alaskan Tea

By The Lady

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Usually, we like to post every second day during the week, but for some unknown and peculiar reason we actually had a social life this week. So we apologise for the late delivery of our last instalment of Alaskan Rock Week. We decided that we wanted to get a little fancy this week and perhaps try a few little new cocktail tricks. Firstly, this cocktail (as the name suggests) includes tea as one of it’s main ingredients. We also wanted to try our hand at using dehydrated fruit because, well, why not? I had lots of lonely looking mandarins in my fruit bowl that were longing to be be put to good use. They did just the trick for dehydrating! Combine these experiments along with our flavour of the week Alaskan Rock Vodka and you’ll have one rocking (ha!) cocktail. We present to you : Bittersweet Alaskan Tea!

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We used :

60mL Alaskan Rock Vodka

60mL Campari

30mL Mandarin Syrup (see recipe below)

1 cup (250mL)  T2 Turkish Cherry Tea  (left to cool down)

1 dehydrated mandarin slice

1/2 teaspoon mandarin powder (ground up dehydrated mandarin segments)

Lots of ice

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Mix the vodka, Campari, mandarin syrup and room temperature tea in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice. Shake it guuuurl! Strain into a large glass. Dust the top of your drink with the mandarin powder and place one slice of dehydrated mandarin to garnish.

 

With a little preparation, this beauty is a super easy cocktail! Don’t be scared by the mandarin syrup and dehydrated mandarins. This is all REALLY easy, it just takes a little forward thinking. Apparently, you can buy dehydrators for your dehydrating purposes, however I just set my oven to the lowest temperature possible (90°C on my oven) and placed my slices and segments on separate trays and left them in the oven for approximately six hours. The segments possibly could have come out earlier, as they were smaller pieces than the whole slice but they do have a lovely caramelised flavour that is quite appealing. Also, for the purpose of this drink where I actually ground up some of the segments, I don’t think it really matters whether they are a little extra dehydrated.

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We also decided to make a mandarin syrup while we were on the mandarin bandwagon. Again, this was super easy and I would say you could use any fruit you fancy.

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Mandarin Syrup

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 mandarins, split into their segments

2 drops of vanilla essence

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Combine water and sugar in pan over medium high heat. Add mandarin segments and vanilla essence. Bring to boil then simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat for at least 20 minutes. Press on mandarins to release all the flavours. Strain syrup liquid into a jar/bottle/container.

 

The Bittersweet Alaskan Tea was a very tasty cocktail and far too easy to drink. We can definitely see ourselves offering up big pitchers of this to friends and family on a regular basis! The drink was a perfect balance of the sweet flavours from the tea and fruit as well as the bitter tones from the Campari. It was a very pretty colour, with the tea being a very similar colour to Campari which gave the drink a lovely vibrant colour. Additionally, after the mandarin slices had been dehydrated it brought out some deeper orange/red tones, which complimented the colour of the drink well. Be careful though as it is deceptively strong, that beautiful mix of a lot of alcohol without that overwhelming booze flavour. Pace yourself friends.

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Well the Bittersweet Alaskan Tea brings us to the end of Alaskan Rock Week. We hope you have enjoyed our week long engagement with this great vodka, we know we have!

 

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

Alaskan Rock Week – Now Serving – Hot Rock

By The Gentleman

 

We’re back as Alaskan Rock Week continues and The Lady and I shake up a cocktail to make you forget the winter blues. It’s the perfect mix of vibrant fruity freshness, Alaskan Rock Vodka, and warm chilli spice to responsibly chase the cold away. The recipe was inspired by an article on Bon Appetit that sent us to the drawing board and allowed us to come up with the Hot Rock.

Hot Rock

Hot Rock

2 Strawberries halved
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
60ml pineapple juice
60ml Alaskan Rock Vodka
15ml homemade Jalapeño Syrup
2 dashes Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub
Pineapple chunks for garnish
Strawberry for garnish

Hot Rock

Muddle strawberries in shaker with sugar. Add ice, pineapple juice, vodka, jalapeño syrup and Bittermens. Shake until combined and very cold. Strain into rocks glass. Prepare garnish by grilling or cooking  fruit in the pan with some brown sugar. Cook until they’re nice and brown then skewer the fruit to garnish.

Jalapeno Syrup

Jalapeño Syrup

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1 fresh jalapeño pepper, washed and stemmed

Add the sugar and water into a pot. Slice jalapeño lengthwise and add into the pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, and simmer for three minutes. Remove from heat let steep. I left my syrup for a good 40 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bottle. This should make 250ml.

Hot Rock

Making the jalapeño syrup is not necessarily an essential step if you have ready access to canned or jarred chillies in syrup. You could just use the syrup from there and a lesser amount, about 1/2 a teaspoon, but I didn’t have any jars or cans. Plus,  I do enjoy a little experiment so making the syrup was something I was probably always going to do. The syrup had a really nice balance of sweetness from the brown sugar and heat from the chili. I was expecting it to be a lot hotter than it was after letting it steep for so long but instead it was a really smooth, mild heat that was quite pleasant. That mild heat was perfect for the Hot Rock. I was worried the heat might overpower the rest of the drink but instead it all came together rather nicely. The strawberries and pineapple juice provided enough sweetness and freshness to balance out the heat from the syrup and the shrub while the vodka provided the boozy background to the whole drink. Despite having two shots of vodka, the alcohol didn’t dominate or give off any weird flavours that might otherwise spoil the drink, it just provided that necessary extra kick. This is key as you wouldn’t want to ruin those lovely strawberry, pineapple and chilli flavours which worked so well together. At first you got the fruitiness and a bit of sweetness as well as the flavour of the chilli, not the spiciness but the actual taste of the pepper. It’s after that you get the spicy heat, which leaves a pleasant warmth in your mouth. The caramelised fruit top off the drink nicely, especially if you drop them in the drink at the start like I did. They soak up the flavours and make for a nice finishing bite at the end of the drink, an explosion of fruit juices, caramel and alcohol. Swoon.

Hot Rock

We’re halfway through Alaskan Rock Week but so far we’re enjoying every minute of it. Exploring and experimenting with interesting flavours is what the Cocktail Challenge is all about and sometimes we hit on the right mix to bring you a great drink like the Hot Rock.

Hot Rock

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Alaskan Rock Vodka

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

 

Alaskan Rock Week – On The Shelf – Alaskan Rock Vodka

By The Gentleman

 

The Lady and I are very excited to return with another week long engagement with a local Australian craft distiller. This time we are getting to know Sydney based vodka maker Alaskan Rock Vodka. Today we’re going to tell you a little more about Alaskan Rock before shaking up a few cocktails later in the week. We have to admit, we are starting to like this whole blogger thing right about now.

Alaskan Rock Vodka

Alaskan Rock Vodka is made with the help of another local distiller, the award winning Lark Distillery from Tasmania. The vodka is made with malted barley and is distilled twice in copper pot stills. I can’t say I’d ever had vodka made with malted barley before so this alone was reason enough to want to give what Alaskan Rock are making a try. They believe that using malted barley gives their vodka the expected crisp neutral spirit flavour while also imparting a hint of malt to the flavour. The double distillation process is utilised to ensure the purest, cleanest flavour possible which is definitely what you want in a good quality vodka.

Alaskan Rock Vodka

Alaskan Rock’s vodka comes in a super stylish package. The liquor comes packaged in a box which they like to call “the Ned Kelly” due to the slot revealing the bottle’s raised lettering. I love the way the slot reveals the name of the vodka and just teases what is inside. More spirits need embrace the box as it can be a really useful extension of their branding, like Alaskan Rock have done here. The bottle itself is rather stunning. It was designed by industrial design team Vert and the bottles are made by glass-makers in Mexico. At first you notice the deep black of the bottle. I like the fact that you can’t see the vodka and instead the whole bottle is this black glass. It again adds to this image of Alaskan Rock as being something different and a little bit mysterious. Obviously, the use of white lettering is just classic, it really pops on the black. Having the lettering wrap around the bottle is an interesting touch. It makes you want to have the bottle constantly on an angle so you can see all the lettering at once. The second thing you notice is the weight of the bottle. Good god it’s heavy. If someone ever breaks into Cocktail Challenge HQ I know what I’m reaching for! Alternatively, you could get two bottles and you could do weights! Picking the bottle up was also the first time I noticed the extra detail on the bottle, what Alaskan Rock call the pronounced punt, where the bottom of the bottle has a mountain range cut into it. A mountain range cut into it. Wow. Touches like this are just so cool and show Alaskan Rock Vodka’s attention to detail and design. It is certainly a package that stands out from the crowd and makes sure Alaskan Rock can’t be described as just another vodka.

Alaskan Rock Vodka Alaskan Rock Vodka
To sample the Alaskan Rock Vodka I took a few sips on its own (still developing the hang of sipping vodka neat but I’ll get there) and then mixed up a Vodka Tonic with some Fentiman’s Tonic Water and a wedge of lemon. Yes it’s supposed to be a lime but hey, rules were made to be broken. On its own there was definitely something different about the flavour. You can pick up a slight caramel flavour mingling with the expected vodka taste. You can also pick it up on the nose as well, which is relatively clean without the overly pungent smell of alcohol that would normally put you off sipping some vodka. It gives Alaskan Rock something extra. The Vodka Tonic was very refreshing. I’m really starting to enjoy Fentiman’s Tonic Water as a mixer and combined with the Alaskan Rock it was a very flavourful drink. The Alaskan Rock becomes the base to elevate all the potent herbal elements of the Fentimans Tonic yet the alcohol and the malt of the vodka cut through that bitterness of the tonic. It doesn’t make it sweet, oh no, but it just makes it even more drinkable.

Alaskan Rock VodkaAlaskan Rock Vodka

Alaskan Rock is a stylish entry to the growing range of locally made vodkas. How can it not be with that super impressive bottle? But the bottle isn’t everything and luckily the contents provide that smooth, crisp, pure flavour that a high quality vodka should have. We’re really looking forward to seeing how we can use this premium vodka to elevate some cocktails throughout the week. So sit back, relax and welcome to Alaskan Rock Vodka Week.

 

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

Now Serving – Five C’s Mulled Wine

By the Gentleman

Mulled Wine4

Holy moly it has been a cold winter here at Cocktail Challenge HQ. Wind, rain, the occasional bit of hail, and freezing cold nights have been the norm for the past few weeks. Meanwhile, my daily web surfing is filled with descriptions of wonderful summer drinks and recipes to refresh and cool you down. Son, I don’t need to be any cooler I’m like Mr. Freeze already. So what’s a dynamic duo of internet bloggers supposed to do in such inclimate weather? Make Mulled Wine of course so that we can get drunk and warm at the same time, which is the best way to get warm (well, one of the best ways 😉 ). The process for this Mulled Wine is based off a post I found on the River Cottage forum but the flavours are all my own.

 

I decided to make the syrup ahead so I could take it to The Lady’s new place and enjoy some Mulled Wine with dinner, being all fancy and romantic. By making it ahead there was no risk of boiling the wine and getting rid of the alcohol, which is a horrible crime. I used brown sugar and molasses and I’m very happy with this decision. They gave the syrup a really deep brown, almost burgundy colour which is far more reminiscent of red wine than most mulling syrups you see. They also didn’t make it overly sweet, which a lot of people feel they do, instead just giving it enough sweetness and that beautiful deep colour. The all C’s spice mix was to be a little bit different and to try something new with Mulled Wine. I think the amounts need a bit of tinkering, but the flavour was definitely interesting enough for me to want to revisit it. I used a pretty cheap bottle of red wine, a Shiraz, but it was an Australian Shiraz so it’s really better than it’s price suggests. It had a really strong fruity smell, which is what you’re after with Mulled Wine. I chose the bottle through my usual method, the Wine Men of Gotham has an interesting label and an even more interesting story behind it. I was pretty happy that I could find a cheap bottle of wine that also had a cool label. The below recipe will make enough syrup to go with one bottle of wine but you can easily use it to make more by repeating the amounts for every bottle.

Mulled Wine2Grand Marnier

Ingredients

375ml water

50g brown sugar

1/2 tsp caraway seeds

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

4 green cardamon pods

1/2 cinnamon stick (I added another whole way towards the end and transferred it to the bottle)

Juice of half an orange, reserve husk to put in mix

Half an apple studded with 9 cloves + 3 extra cloves

1 1/2 tbsp molasses

Rind of one lemon

Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

1/4 oz Grand Marnier (optional)

750ml bottle Wine Men of Gotham Shiraz

Orange Wedge for garnish

Cloves for garnish

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Method

Toast cardamon pods, coriander seeds and caraway seeds in a pan to open up the flavours.

Place all ingredients except the red wine in a pan. Stir to combine

Bring the pan to the boil and reduce to strong bubbling simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes remove the fruit with a slotted spoon

Bring the pan to a rolling boil. Keep boiling till the liquid is half the volume and syrupy. Watch out because this will happen quickly.

Strain the syrup through a sieve, muslin or a coffee filter.

Bottle in sterilised bottles and seal firmly

To make mulled wine mix your red wine with the prepared syrup. Heat till warm but not boiling.

Serve in mugs or cup and saucer with an orange wedge studded with cloves.

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The Lady has indulged in far more mulled wine than I have during her overseas travels so I let her comments guide me. She said it tasted and smelt like Mulled Wine should which is always good to know. The syrup had this beautifully spiced aroma that was very strong, the whole house smelt of cinnamon, cloves and pretty much how I imagine a white Christmas to smell. You can’t smell the cayenne pepper at all. It lurks in the background. Taking a mouthful you get the warmth of the drink, a reassuring embrace on a cold winter night. Then you’re hit with the traditional mulling spices. A soothing spice feeling from the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom pods. Between the warmth of the drink and the soothing spices you get lulled into the drinks embrace and then BAM! Real heat from the cayenne and probably the coriander seeds. It fills your mouth and goes right down the back of your throat. Take a swing of this on a cold night and you would definitely feel warmer. The cayenne may not be for everyone but I was looking for something different from ginger that would keep with my C spices theme. The Lady reckons cayenne is my thing at the moment, adding it to anything and everything and I admit I may have put a bit too much of a pinch in but I don’t think it overly dominated the drink. It just provided the heat I was looking to replace from the ginger. I was a bit disappointed with the fruit, I thought their flavour would have been a bit stronger and maybe in the future I’ll increase the amount of fruit I add to try and get a more prominent flavour.

Mulled Wine

Researching Mulled Wine recipes I shouldn’t have been shocked at how much it divided people. Some people love it and others absolutely hate it.  Really this is pretty much how anyone talks about any sort of alcohol but nearly every Mulled Wine recipe or article includes the fact that people love it or hate it. I just it’s because you make it yourself  and it is very open to interpretation that people can end up with wildly different results. At the moment I wouldn’t say this is a great recipe, it needs some work to round out the flavours and deliver a more balanced Mulled Wine. But on a cold winter’s night, snuggled up on the couch freaking out to American Horror Story it certainly did the job. Warming, spicy with an extra kick you certainly won’t regret pouring in that bottle of wine and in the end, isn’t that all that matters?

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Now Serving – The Westender

By The Lady

 

A while back, we whipped up a tasty little cocktail which paid tribute to Adelaide’s East End district. We called this drink The Eastender. The drink got us thinking about the key characteristics and traits of other districts in our beloved home town. We decided to shift our focus from the East to the West. I’ll admit, with the West End being such a diverse and broad area, we found this one a tad (read : a lot) trickier to encapsulate into a drink. However, we were pretty happy with the end result.

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Morphett Street (Photo credit Wikipedia.org)

Adelaide’s West End is an unusual creature, with a rich and colourful history which has helped shape the district into what it has become today. Hindley Street is peppered with nightclubs, adult establishments and has a vibrant nightlife. In addition, the area currently houses a melting pot of cultural hubs, including UniSA’s Samstag Museum, the independent film venue Mercury Cinema, one of Adelaide’s few surviving independent booksellers Imprints, as well as the famous Jam Factory. In the West End, you will also find an abundance of inspiring and ever-changing street art.

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With The Westender, we wanted the drink to have elements of the old and the new. For this reason, we decided to base our drink off of the classic cocktail “Old Fashioned”. We like to think of our Westender as an Old Fashioned in New Fashion. Instead of using whiskey, we decided to use West Winds Gin (although not made in Adelaide’s West End, we felt the name speaks for itself). We used Bittermens Burlesque Bitters as a nod toward the West End’s infamous past, and we also added splashes of colour to represent the West End’s colourful art and cultural scene.

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We used :

60mL West Winds Gin – The Sabre

1 Dash of Bittermens Burlesque Bitters

1 teaspoon caster sugar

Several drops of Vok Blue Curacao

Several drops Cawsey’s Grenadine

Orange peel to garnish

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Add your sugar and bitters into a glass and mix with a cocktail muddler (you could use a teaspoon if you don’t have a muddler). Mix until the sugar is close to dissolved. Add the gin and stir together in the glass. Use a teaspoon to add a few drops of both the Blue Curacao and Grenadine into your drink (a tribute to Adelaidian Street Art!). If you have a pipette handy, this would be easier but I found the teaspoon a suitable alternative. I poured a small amount of each (separately) into a shot glass, dipped the spoon in and tapped the spoon over the glass until the drops fell in.

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As you drink The Westender, the colours of the grenadine and blue curaçao mix together and blend with the drink, much like how the varying elements of Adelaide’s West End have mixed together to offer a unique district. The drink is definitely a strong beverage, but it delivers a firm statement with a unique flavour. Overall, the drink is quite powerful but certainly very tasty and grownup. We were aiming for a strong drink to match such a vibrant and diverse district. We feel that the mix of old and new fits in perfectly with Adelaide’s West End. The West Winds Sabre gin has a lovely citrusy flavour that makes it very drinkable. This paired quite nicely with the Burlesque Bitters, which has flavours of hibiscus, acai and long pepper and gave the drink a very spicy and herbal flavour. The bitters also gave the drink a delightful smell, full of peppery spice mixing with citrus oils of the orange peel dropped in the glass.

 

The Westender certainly was a tough cocktail challenge, trying to synthesise this diverse and exciting region of the city, but we we’re pleasantly surprised with how well our representation of the flavours of Adelaide’s West End mixed together to create this cocktail inspired by both the old and new elements of the district. So sit back and try a new take on an old classic as you plot your next visit to Adelaide’s West End.

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