Now Serving – Luscious Orange Martini

By The Gentleman

Dark Chocolate

We were pretty happy with our first impression of the Cocktail Kit subscription service. The recipe and spirits provided allowed us to make a damn fine Espresso Martini . Naturally though we wanted to do our own thang because what really excites us about the Cocktail Kit is it’s ability to open us up to some new techniques and spirits we might not have thought to try before. So we put on our creative hats (okay there is no hat, we just kind of went on a tangent while enjoying our Espresso Martini) and came up with something rather decadent, delicious and a little bit naughty, the Luscious Orange Martini.

Dark Chocolate

Luscious Orange Martini

30ml 666 Vodka

30ml Tia Maria

30ml dark chocolate orange syrup (we used Willie’s Cacao Luscious Orange)

10-15ml fresh orange juice (I kind of just gave half an orange a good squeeze, you don’t want too much juice)

Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

Ice

Grated chocolate for garnish

Orange twist for garnish

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To make the chocolate orange syrup break up your chocolate, in this case the 50g block of Willie’s chocolate, and melt it over a double boiler, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. When it starts to melt add a few drops of chocolate bitters and a teaspoon of water at a time until you get a pourable, syrupy consistency.

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Grab a fancy coupe glass and chill it down with some ice. In your oh so grown up Boston Shaker pour in the vodka, Tia Maria, chocolate orange syrup, orange juice, and two dashes of bitters. Half fill with ice and then shake like the wind. When your hand starts to feel like it might be getting frostbite then you’re down. Ditch the ice from your glass, and add a dash of bitters to the glass. Now double strain the drink using the Hawthorn strainer and the tea strainer. Grate some more chocolate over the top (get some height so it looks you’re one of those fancy TV chefs) and cut a length of orange peel to twist and hook over the side of the glass.

Dark Chocolate

We’re going to make a big call here and say that this is up there as one of the Top 5 cocktails we’ve made here at The Cocktail Challenge. “What?! How could you make that statement?” I hear you say, well let me explain why this cocktail will rock your socks. We’re partial to a bite or two of chocolate…okay a block or two, but this isn’t about our mild chocolate addiction. It doesn’t matter if it’s the cheapest block in the store or something you feel you need to mortgage your house for we just need all the chocolate all the time. Willie’s is a nice chocolate that’s just starting to catch on in Australia and this drink tastes EXACTLY like the chocolate we used. It’s amazing and almost a little like black magic that we were scared…of it’s awesomeness. You get bitter dark chocolate, but the vodka and Tia Maria actually soften some of that really bitter chocolate and make it really smooth to drink. You then get this lovely orange after taste that’s not too overpowering and provides a nice fresh contrast to the chocolate. This is pretty much exactly how the chocolate tastes. The bitters also give it a bit of an aromatic kick that is always welcome. It’s a decadent drink yet it’s not sickly or too sweet. It’s rich and quite velvety with a gorgeous chocolate colour and we could easily spend an evening enjoying a few of these. Also the last mouthful is something to be savoured as the grated chocolate has melted and there’s some syrup that settles at the bottom, which makes for a thicker, even more intense final flourish to the drink.

Dark Chocolate

The Espresso Martini shook up our coffee routine and the Luscious Orange Martini can definitely shake up your dessert because sometimes it’s just as good to drink your dessert as it is to eat it.

 

As always remember to like, share, and follow The Cocktail Challenge on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

 

Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was provided a free “The Sampler” Cocktail Kit as well as a Bar Kit for this article. Although this post is sponsored all opinions are our own.

Now Serving – Mango Beer Bellini

By The Gentleman

Mango Beer Bellini

I have a confession to make. It was only this year that I had my first Bellini. Scandalous I know. I blame it on my late introduction to the wonderful world of wine. Once I sampled one though I instantly regretted ignoring it for so long. Oh the mistakes we make when we are young. The Mango Beer Bellini is my way of making up for lost time by taking two things that are delicious, Bellinis and beer, and joining them in holy cocktail matrimony. Prepare yourself for some flavour!

Beer and Prosecco

Mango Beer Bellini

Mango Puree

1 part Matso’s Mango Beer

1 part The Killer Prosecco

Mango pieces for garnish

Mango Puree

Make the mango puree by cutting a mango into chunks and placing it in a food processor with 1/2 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp sugar and 1 tbsp water. Process until the mango is smooth and then gradually add more water, a tablespoon at a time, to thin out the puree. You want it to be thick, but pourable.

Mango Beer Bellini

Place mango puree in the bottom of your glass. We used some pretty epic glasses so we used about 2 tablespoons of mango puree. Half fill your glass with Prosecco and then top with the mango beer. Place mango pieces on top to garnish.

Mango Beer Bellini

First off, this drink is so easy to make. Mango purée takes all of 5 seconds to whip up and that’s hardest part, unless you have limited Prosecco cork popping experience like we do. Then the hardest part is not dying when the cork pops off before you are prepared (true story, The Lady was this close to being a one-eyed bandit. Please be careful!). The recipe is also pretty adaptable. Whatever beer you can find you can match with a fruit purée, a strawberry Belgian beer or a grapefruit IPA are perfect alternates. You can also make it as big or small as you like. We kind of went overboard as the glasses I chose were deceptively big so we took calling them Big Ass Bellinis, but regardless of glass size it’s half Prosecco and half beer. Easy!

Mango Beer Bellini

We are also pleased to report that beer and Prosecco go together like peas in a pod. It can go to your head a bit, especially if you decide to use a huge glass like we did (YOLO), but damn it is good. The beer tones down the overt sweetness of the Prosecco and really enhances the mango flavour. The drink also remains quite light and fresh and doesn’t give you that really full beer feeling. Also I shouldn’t have to tell you that the drink smells fantastic, really fresh and sweet mango fruitiness.

 

So next time you’re looking to whip up some Bellinis, oh say for a swinging Summer partay, do yourself a favour and shake things up with a bit with some fruity beer. You will not be disappointed.

 

As always remember to like, share, and follow The Cocktail Challenge on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

Now Serving – Cocktail Kit Espresso Martini

By The Lady

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Gorgeous packaging from Cocktail Kit. Most definitely dapper design. Top marks for presentation!

 

We love making, buying and drinking cocktails, we’ll just put that out there. While we have built up a collection of equipment and ingredients, we understand that it must be hard for some people to get into cocktail making mode when they are lacking all the essential utensils and liquors. Instead of overwhelming yourselves with the thousands of different liquors you can buy or the millions of different recipes you might want to try, we suggest starting with something simpler that will provide you with all the right clues towards a fabulous first cocktail experience. We suggest that you check out Cocktail Kit, who deliver all the ingredients to your door and do everything but make it for you!

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Cocktail Kit is a brand spanking new website run by local legend Steve of Steve The Bartender. Basically, the website is a subscription service which offers either monthly or one off subscriptions where you can have a mixture of liquors sent to you based upon a feature monthly cocktail. Additionally, if you have a few extra ingredients in your cupboard, the kind people at Cocktail Kit provide guidance for a few extra cocktail recipes based upon those sent out that month. You can also purchase the one off Bar Kit, which provides all the tools needed to turn you into a master mixologist. Not only that, but the subscription also offers you exclusive access their online portal where you will find instructional videos and hints on how to create the perfect cocktails! (The online area wasn’t open when we received our sample, but we’ll be back to check it out later.)

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We think this is a great service as it helps make cocktail making more approachable and a whole lot easier for those who want to dabble in the bartender ways! It can always be tricky when you are looking at a cocktail recipe only to find that you must buy several ingredients, but Cocktail Kit provides all the ingredients you need to make each months feature cocktail. Hooray! Plus you can also choose between the Entertainer Kit, which comes with full-size bottles and will let you dazzle your friends, or the Sample Kit, which provides adorable little miniatures so you can try a bunch of cocktails on a budget.

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With the ingredients and instructions sent to us by Cocktail Kit, this is how we made our Espresso Martini, which is the first kit from the Cocktail Kit …

Espresso Martini:

30mL 666 Pure Tasmanian Vodka (PS peeps … 666 have an awesome website! Turn the volume up)

30mL Tia Maria

30mL Little Drippa Cold Drip Coffee

Ice (for preparation)

 

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Place some ice cubes in your martini glass to chill. Also half fill your cocktail shaker with ice (we used the Boston shaker sent to us by Cocktail Kit and prayed the whole time that we had smacked it on correctly). Add all the ingredients into the cocktail shaker and shake what your mama gave you … oh and also shake the cocktail shaker too! Empty the ice from the cocktail glass and strain the tasty liquor into your glass. We garnished with a few coffee beans because we so fancy, but it would be just as delicious without.

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Double straining like a mofo

 

Ta da! How easy is that! Hint : so freaking easy! The Espresso Martini was very tasty with the Tia Maria giving it a sweeter, smoother flavour, but it still has that coffee and vodka kick. It was very easy to drink, easy to prepare, and tasted damn good. What more could you ask for?

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We highly recommend the Cocktail Kit subscription service. We think it is the perfect way to break into the world of cocktails and an ideal gift, especially with Christmas right around the corner (get in quick to place your order for the first kit). I think it makes it so easy and affordable to whip up quick and delicious cocktails without even having to leave the house for ingredients! It’s beautifully packaged and the recipe provided great results. Plus, it gave us an excuse to partake in a cheeky pre-lunch cocktail. Morning coffee anybody?

 

As always remember to like, share, and follow The Cocktail Challenge on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

 

Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was provided a free “The Sampler” Cocktail Kit as well as a Bar Kit for this article. Although this post is sponsored all opinions are our own.

Out & About – Loft Oyster & Wine Bar Take Two

By The Gentleman and The Lady

Bangkok Breakfast (L) and The Orange Daisy (R)

Bangkok Breakfast (L) and The Orange Daisy (R)

Sometimes when you’ve struck a good thing it’s best not to mess with it. The last time we went to Gouger Street’s Loft Oyster & Wine Bar we had just finished an intense period of university study. You know that time of year when every deadline feels like it’s on the same day and you find yourself forgetting what sunlight or normal sleeping patterns are like as you madly rush to get everything done. Yeah, good times. Well, that wonderful time of yeah came again, but we’re through to the other side now and everything is coming up Milhouse! So, in the mood to celebrate, we decided to head back to Gouger Street and sample some more delicious cocktails from the Loft.

White Rabbit (Top) and Cold Drip Negroni (Bottom)

White Rabbit (Top) and Cold Drip Negroni (Bottom)

While we were at the Loft to celebrate it was also a bit of a last hurrah for the current cocktail menu. The Loft has a classic cocktail menu and a rotating menu of new specialties and we tip our hat to the Loft Twitter handler for giving us the heads up on the upcoming menu change so we could sneak in a taste before it changes. From the specialties we tried the White Rabbit, the Cold Drip Negroni, and the Bangkok Breakfast and we also went for the classic Orange Daisy.

White Rabbit

White Rabbit

As soon as The Lady saw the White Rabbit she knew I was going to order it. It was a mix of brown butter washed dark rum, smoked maple syrup, orange and lemon juice. Brown butter and smoky maple syrup? Sign me up! The drink was surprisingly very citrus forward at first. You got a lot of orange aroma and sweet fruit flavour. About halfway through the drink though you get hit with the smoky maple flavour and aroma. It was a really delicious transition of flavours that was topped off with a smooth spiciness from the butter washed rum and a definite lingering citrus tang. An intriguing and easy to drink cocktail.

Cold Drip Negroni

Cold Drip Negroni

As much as I was tempted by the White Rabbit I also had a strong suspicion The Lady would choose the latest Coffee Experiment, the Cold Drip Negroni. Gin and coffee are two of The Lady’s favourite things and she rarely misses an opportunity to combine the two. Throw in some Campari and sweet vermouth and you’ve got a really good time. The coffee and Campari pair excellently to provide a delightful bitterness and who can resist the heavenly aroma of coffee tinged with citrusy orange. Plus, we were rather impressed by the massive hunk of ice used to chill the drink (yes when you drink a lot of cocktails ice size becomes an important thing). It was both practical, keeping the drink cool but not diluted, and looked rather nice, sticking out the top of the glass. One for all the coffee lovers.

Cold Drip Negroni

Cold Drip Negroni

The other two cocktails caught our eye not only because they sounded amazing, but because they offered both a regular and a small size. It’s not that we didn’t think we could drink a whole other cocktail (trust us, we most certainly could), we just appreciated the option of a slightly cheaper option. We’re more than happy to pay what a good cocktail is worth. We’re also poor students so the option to try something that sounds so nice for a bit cheaper price is definitely quite attractive to us. The Bangkok Breakfast was served in a cute little milk bottle with a straw. It mixed citrus vodka, breakfast tea, lime, ginger, and lemongrass. The drink wasn’t as citrusy as we thought it would be. Instead the ginger was really dominate and had a really pleasant spiciness that left a nice tingly sensation on your tongue. To us it screamed hot summer’s day as it was refreshing and easy to drink. The Orange Daisy was also quite a good accompaniment to the Bangkok Breakfast. It was similarly refreshing and tasted kind of like an alcoholic soft drink. The orange and cardamom cordial was not too syrupy or too sweet. It was delightfully balanced and again we loved the citrus flavours, mixed something a little bit different. Without even realising we went through a bit of a citrus cocktail tasting, but we’re okay with that when the results are so good.

Bangkok Breakfast

Bangkok Breakfast

This was our second visit to the Loft after struggling through study hell and we’re starting to feel like this is the start of a great tradition. As long as they keep making cocktails as good as these those long nights of study may just be worth it. Good cocktails are always the best motivation.

Orange Daisy

Orange Daisy

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On The Shelf – Delinquente Wines Montepulciano

By The Lady

“Sometimes you’ve got to heed the call of the wild child within. Sometimes you’ve got to go home with a bunch of grapes who’re ugly as sin”

Girl, you know we went home with those “ugly as sin” grapes and showed them the time of their lives. By drinking them.
Bullet Dodger
We here at The Cocktail Challenge always like to keep our eyes peeled for dapper looking, locally made liquor. As soon as we saw the labels of Delinquente Wine Co., we knew that we needed to have some. We have been wanting to try this one out for AGES. Finally, we stumbled upon this beauty during a browsing sesh at East End Cellars and we felt like we’d hit the jackpot.
Bullet Dodger
Delinquente Wines are a local crew, sourcing their grapes in the Riverland and producing their wine here in South Australia. Not only do they kick ass already by being a small batch local wine producer, but they also ensure that their wines are vegan friendly. While The Gentleman is just about the opposite of a vegan, I myself dabble in the ways of veganity. Many people are not aware, but a great deal of liquor makes use of the ingredients that render their products as not suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Luckily, the vegos and vegans of the world can now get their draaank on with Delinquente Wine Co!

Bullet Dodger
The artwork for their labels and their website is created by local street artist Ankles. All of their current wines are presented in a very similar design style with each featuring their own heavily tattooed badass character to personify the wine. The Montepulciano features “The Bullet Dodger” character, with his heavily tattooed face, mullet hair and pouted lips. We love the little story Delinquente have printed on the back of the bottle to introduce us to “The Bullet Dodger”, it just gives the wine extra character and intrigue. Plus it’s quite hilarious as we all know exactly the type of person Delinquente are describing. Other bottles present an illustrated Pretty Boy and a stylised Screaming Betty.  I have seen Ankles work out and about in Adelaide and have loved the artist’s style for a long time. Really, it is no surprise that I am swooning over Delinquente Wine Co and their inked individuals.
Bullet Dodger
The wine itself is incredibly easy to drink and rather delicious. It has a rather light colour and a touch of translucency (is this a word? After polishing off the whole bottle it is definitely a word). The lighter plum colour was unexpected, but still a delightful looking glass o’ wine. The scent of The Bullet Dodger is full of fruity and berry scents with a creamy texture to boot! It is very light and we feel it would go perfectly with a number of meals, or also suitable on its own. It leaves this lovely spiciness on your tongue which would stand up perfectly on its own or compliment a meal rather well. They refer to the grapes they use as “ugly” but think this wine is anything but. The Bullet Dodger is a beautiful wine inside and out.
Bullet Dodger
We are thoroughly looking forward to continuing our Delinquente ways by trying some of their other tasty treats. We’ll keep you posted on which tattooed creatures we next meet!

Bullet Dodger

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Now Serving – Domo Arigato

By The Lady

Domo Arigato

The Gentleman has pretty gash darn lovely relatives. For his birthday this year, he received a bottle of Suntory Hibiki Whiskey direct from Japan. That’s right … 17 year old fancy Japanese Whiskey. How lucky is he? Iggy Azalea would be proud! As we hadn’t used this one yet, we figured the time was right to crack this beauty open. But the dilemma …  what to mix it with? Well, have we got a surprise in store for you! We have been a little creative these past few weeks, and we figured ‘Why stop being daring when we are having SO MUCH FUN?!’. So, let us throw some FENNEL & CUCUMBER into a cocktail. You heard me … FENNEL & CUCUMBER!

Hibiki Whiskey

Ingredients

60mL Suntory Hibiki 17yo Whiskey
10mL Fennel Syrup (See instructions below)
10mL Cucumber Juniper Shrub
3 dashes of Bitter Tears Lucille Blood Orange Bitters
Cucumber slice to garnish

Fennel Syrup 

In a saucepan, combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil, stirring so it doesn’t burn. After the sugar has completely dissolved, remove from the heat and stir briefly. Allow to cool.
Add 3 teaspoons of ground fennel seeds to your mixture and leave overnight in the refrigerator. Finely strain to remove the fennel. You can keep it refrigerated for up to two weeks.
Domo Arigato
Combine the whiskey, fennel syrup, shrub and bitters in a large glass. Add ice, and stir for approximately ten seconds. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with fresh ice (one big ass cube if available). Garnish with a cucumber slice.

 Domo Arigato

Once you have done all your prep work in making the Fennel Syrup, it is actually a really quick and easy drink to make. The Domo Arigato has a delightful sweetness to it whilst still holding the alcoholic warmth from the whiskey. The Domo Arigato has an interesting smell with the fennel and the cucumber combining perfectly. As you sip away and catch wafts of the drink, you can catch a hint of each of these unique flavours. While this whiskey was a gift, it would otherwise be an expensive little drink. You might be a purist and think expensive whiskey should only be drunk straight, but we prefer to think it adds class and damn fine flavour to a fancy cocktail. We suspect that you may be able to substitute the whiskey for an inferior liquor, but it really was rather lovely and we recommend splashing out on this one. Personally, as somebody who usually dislikes brown spirits, I found this whiskey to be smooth and delightful. Plus this drink also helped us realise that big ass ice cubes are the bomb. They look impressive, provide a nice platform for garnishes, and melt slow to keep your drink cold but not diluted. Drinking trifecta!

Domo Arigato

My brother is a huge fan of whiskey and has force fed me a variety of them over the years. As we have both aged and matured, so too has the quality of the whiskey that he drinks. I believe both my brother, as well as The Gentleman’s brothers would appreciate this drink and its damn fine, oh-so-fancy contents. So, let us say “Domo Arigato” to all the awesome brothers out there!

 

 

Domo Arigato

(PS we don’t speak Japanese. At all. Can you tell?)

 

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Now Serving – Clubhouse Rock

By The Gentleman

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The Lady is a tea fiend. She is the quintessential old lady in a young person’s body who surrounds herself with cats while drinking cups of tea and showing off her eclectic tea pots. I don’t like tea (gasp!) and I think if it weren’t for my winning personality and ability to supply The Lady with tasty treats and delicious beverages it would probably be a deal breaker. For this cocktail, we decided to mix The Lady’s tea love with something we can all enjoy, booze. Introducing the Clubhouse Rock.

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Clubhouse Rock

60ml Alaskan Rock Vodka infused with Scullery Made Clubhouse Lane Tea

Juice of Half a Lemon + lemon peel for garnish

30ml Cinnamon Simple Syrup

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Infuse 60ml of vodka with 1 tsp of tea for at least 2 hours. The longer you infuse it the better and you can also make more as you need it, and why wouldn’t you, following the ratio of 60ml to 1 tsp. We chose Scullery Made because it’s a local South Australian tea seller who have some pretty amazing sounding blends. After leaving your vodka to infuse, strain it into a cocktail shaker filled with lots of ice. Add your lemon and cinnamon syrup. Shake it well. Strain it into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with your lemon peel. Try and get it to twist, but don’t worry if you can’t. Those lemons can be tricky.

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So I’ll be first to admit that the Scullery Made Clubhouse Lane tea smelt pretty damn good. The Clubhouse Lane blend is made with a rooibos-like tea called honeybush, along with orange zest, cinnamon, cloves and calendula petals. I don’t really know what any of that means, all I know is it had a very strong smell with a hint of cinnamon. It was that cinnamon flavour in the tea that I wanted to capture and enhance with the cinnamon syrup. The tea was perfect for a cocktail. It gave the drink a very pretty colour and the smell of the tea carried over to the cocktail, with a stronger cinnamon scent and just a touch of lemon. It infused really well and there was no harshness from the vodka, it provided the perfect canvas for the tea to shine. The drink is sweet, but all the spices from the tea and the cinnamon syrup really balance it out. Also be warned, I downed this bad boy in a few sips and didn’t even realise. It is so easy to drink.

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I may not be a total tea convert but after making a tea infused cocktail I am definitely open to imbibing in more tea cocktails. Also there are so many options for different infusions with different teas and spirits. I think this is the start of a long and beautiful friendship.

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