On The Shelf – Koerner Wine Vermentino ‘Rolle’

By The Gentleman

Koerner Wine Vermentino Rolle

The other day, we introduced you to one of South Australia’s new breed of small winemakers, Koerner Wine. We really enjoyed their Shiraz Mourvèdre, but then again that didn’t really surprise us as we have a pretty much obsessive love of red wine. What neither of us have really had as much experience with is white wine. Koerner produce two types of white, both variations of the Vermentino, and the reviews had been mighty positive so we thought it was our duty to educate ourselves and expand our white wine repertoire. We sampled the Vermentino ‘Rolle’ and we’d have to say with quality this good, we may have to put a few more whites into our wine drinking rotation.

Koerner Wine Vermentino Rolle

The Vermentino ‘Rolle’ had a sweet, inviting citrusy aroma. Tasting it, you almost get overwhelmed, in the best possible sense, by the tangyness. It is really pleasant, your whole mouth feels it, and it leaves you doing a fair bit of lip-smacking. There was also something akin to melon fruits, like taking a bite of honeydew or rock melon, in the flavour but also the sensation and texture. What surprised us, mostly because of our limited white experience, was how easy it was to drink. It was fresh and smooth with a bit of dryness. The flavours were just so crisp and fresh. After almost finishing the glass I also worked out the last little surprise, a delicious lingering aftertaste of sweet pineapple. Damn son.

Koerner Wine Vermentino Rolle

This is far and away the best white wine I have drunk. Admittedly it is a small sample, but quality always shines through. This is damn good and if you’re a white fan, or someone looking to branch out like us, then you should really hunt down a bottle or hope your local might have it by the glass (I hear Africola and Clever Little Tailor have it).

Koerner Wine Vermentino Rolle

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Now Serving – Bitter Fire

By The Gentleman

Bitter Fire

Gosh darn, it’s been heating up here at Cocktail Challenge HQ in 2015, with so many delicious new cocktails to try. So what are we to do when things start getting a  little hot? We decided to follow the advice of our friend Tom Jones when he suggested to “Fight Fire With Fire“. The only logical cause of action would be to add some of our new fave Fire Drum Vodka into the mix! This time, we pair Fire Drum with some Campari and tonic water to create a bitter, but oh so delicious little number. Introducing the Bitter Fire.

Bitter Fire

Bitter Fire

30mL Fire Drum Vodka
45mL Campari
30mL lime juice
4 or 5 large mint leaves + 1 mint leaf for garnish
1/2 tsp sugar
Lime wedge
Tonic Water

In your cocktail shaker muddle mint leaves with vodka, Campari, sugar and lime juice for a few minutes until the mint is fragrant. Add lots of ice and shake. Grab a tall glass and half fill with ice. Squeeze lime wedge over ice and drop in. Pour liquor into glass then top with tonic water. Garnish with another mint leaf.

Bitter Fire

The Campari makes this a very pretty drink with a lovely light red colour. It looks even more attractive as the Campari mix is light enough that you can see the lime wedge, ice, and mint leaf floating in the drink. It just looks very fresh and eye-catching. While the drink has a definite edge from bitterness of the Campari and tonic water, this is very easy to drink. The lime and mint leaves balance out some of the really strong bitter flavours, leaving you with this really interesting bitter mint flavour. The bitterness and the mint are both refreshing but in very different ways. I also quite like the smell of Campari and this drink maintains that delicious bitter orange Campari aroma with just a hint of sweet mint. The Fire Drum Vodka provides the perfect canvas for all the other flavours to come together. It provides some intensity and oomph as well as a slight hint of those malty flavours.

Bitter Fire

After playing around with Fire Drum Vodka we are very happy with the results. It paired equally well with all of the different flavours we threw at it. Additionally, Fire Drum and helped us to make three damn fine drinks so really, in the end, that’s all you can ask for…Well that and another glass!

Bitter Fire

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On The Shelf – Koerner Wine Shiraz Mourvèdre

By The Lady

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We believe that summer is the perfect time to be lapping up some delicious wines … well, any time of the year is a good time. Who are we kidding? But seriously, summer Down Under is great as the evenings are warm, light, and lend themselves for sipping down a glass or two of vino to wash away the day. Our most recent venture is with local winemakers Koerner Wines.

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Koerner Wines is based in the Watervale area of the Clare Valley and run by SA brothers Damon and Jonathan Koerner. While they have both spent time gaining valuable experience around the nation and the globe, they both grew up in the Clare Valley and I suspect they have a nostalgic urge to keep it local. Thus, most of the grapes used in their wine comes from the local surrounds and from a vineyard owned by their own father! Koerner specialise in super-low production runs, think batches of only 10 cases, so when you come across one make sure you snap it up quick like we did. We managed to acquire a few of their delicious treats, and decided to start with the Shiraz Mourvèdre.

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The Shiraz Mourvèdre was a perfect blend of the rich Shiraz and the bold Mourvèdre. It had a bright colour, attractive colour that really caught the eye.  The wine also had the perfect amount of weight and oomph to it for a summer’s eve. You can definitely drink this now, there was almost a juicy freshness to it, but if cellaring is your thang then we could see this developing some deeper, richer and smoother flavour. Additionally, the spiciness and fruity aromas were rather prominent in this lovely beauty and translated into a delicious drop of wine with a nice balance between dark berries and spice. We also really love the design of their labels. Each bottle proudly dons the same filigree style grapevine in a rainbow of wine inspired colours. Let me tell you, I am certain their is a pot of gold at the end of the Koerner rainbow!

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Now Serving – Cinnamon Bee’s Knees

By The Gentleman

Cinnamon Bee's Knees

Today on the Cocktail Challenge we have a bit of a blast from the past for you. We’ve revisited the first drink we ever made on the Cocktail Challenge, the Bee’s Knees. God we really didn’t have any idea what we were doing back then. Not that we have much idea what we were doing then, we’re just better at faking it now. We always said we wanted to come back to it so we did, putting a little twist on it by giving it a cinnamon boost.

 

Cinnamon Bee’s Knees

60ml Four Pillars Barrel Aged Gin

30ml Cinnamon honey syrup

30ml Lemon Juice

Ice

Cinnamon stick to garnish

 

Prep your martini glass by filling it with ice. Then grab your cocktail shaker and fill it with ice. Pour in the gin, honey syrup and lemon juice. Shake it hard for about 20 seconds. Remove the ice from glasses and strain in. Garnish with your cinnamon stick.

Cinnamon Bee's Knees

Cinnamon Honey Syrup

2tbs cinnamon infused honey

2tbs hot water

1/4 cinnamon stick

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

 

Place the honey in a bowl. Pour over the hot water and stir until the honey has melted to create a syrup. Add in the ground cinnamon and cinnamon stick. Leave to infuse for about 15-20 minutes and then remove the cinnamon stick. Place in the fridge to cool. I already had a cinnamon infused honey to start with. If you don’t then up then double the amount of cinnamon and leave it to infuse for closer to 30 minutes.

Cinnamon Bee's Knees

It’s nice to know that after investing countless time and money into our cocktail habit we have improved marginally. This time we even managed to do the honey right, getting a little bit fancy and adding some cinnamon because cinnamon makes everything better. There was no solidified honey in the shaker for us, oh no. That bad boy got mixed in real good. The sweeter Barrel Aged Gin also definitely provides a different flavour than the London No.3 Dry Gin we used last time. The gin is less in your face, mixing nicely with the lemon and honey. The drink overall is much sweeter, with the cinnamon providing a delicious aroma and just a bit of a tingling sensation on your tongue and lips. It’s not an overly strong cinnamon flavour, but something surprisingly subtle. A touch less on the lemon juice may allow the cinnamon to shine through even more. Really this was just something that was very easy to drink mixing two of our favourite things, gin and cinnamon.

Cinnamon Bee's Knees

Sometimes a trip down memory lane is a bad thing and looking over the first post on the Cocktail Challenge was a bit cringe worthy. We were such noobs. Luckily the Cinnamon Bee’s Knees made it worth the reflection.

 

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Now Serving – Fire Grenade

By The Gentleman

Fire Grenade

Did you know that grenadine, that bright and flavoursome cocktail syrup, gets it’s name from the word grenade. See grenadine is traditionally made from pomegranates and sugar and the French word (because the French have given us so much) for pomegranates is grenade. We are all about enhancing your cultural education as well as your cocktail education at the Cocktail Challenge. We are also about getting you away from thinking grenadine is just something you add to a tequila sunrise to give it a bit of colour. The Fire Grenade is packed with rich grenadine flavour that we just know you’ll love.

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Fire Grenade

45ml Fire Drum Vodka
Juice of half an orange
Juice of half a lemon
20ml Wilks & Wilson Grenadine
Orange peel for garnish

Chill a coupe glass with ice. Grab a mixing glass, fill it with ice and then add all of your ingredients. Using your bar spoon stir everything together for a few minutes to combine and chill. Once it is well chilled remove the ice from your coupe glass and strain it in. Garnish with your orange peel.

Fire Grenade

The Fire Grenade is a fitting name because this thing will blow up your tastebuds. It’s packed with tangy, fruity citrus flavour that dominates the top half of the drink. You’ll notice the richness of the almost caramelly, molasses flavour of the grenadine as a slight aftertaste. About halfway through the roles are flipped and the grenadine dominates. It goes from a light, fresh drink to a richer, more tart affair. There’s a nice thickness, but it’s not too syrupy. The strong grenadine flavour is quite delicious and gives the drink a gorgeous aroma. This natural grenadine doesn’t have the intense red colour of other brands, but it still made a pretty drink. We are okay with that because in exchange for the colour we get a better, more flavoursome mixer. We really appreciate cocktails that are both balanced in flavour yet allow you to experience different elements as you go through stages. There is also a good kick from the vodka making this quite a pleasant sipping drink, something you want to savour.

Fire Grenade

Do yourself a favour and pull the pin on the Fire Grenade. It’s blend of traditional style grenadine, tangy citrus, and vodka kick won’t leave your tastebuds disappointed.

Fire Grenade

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Now Serving – Fire Fueled Cider

By The Gentleman

Fire Fueled Cider

We’re all about finding and using locally made spirits here at the Cocktail Challenge. You already know of our love affair with Australia’s award-winning gin and our continued education in the wide world of craft vodka. Over the next few posts we’ll be showing you our latest find, Fire Drum Vodka. We spent all weekend playing with fire and mixing up some fresh drinks with this fine Tasmanian vodka. Our first drink is the Fire Fueled Cider, which pairs craft vodka with craft cider…we are so crafty.

Fire Fueled Cider

Fire Fueled Cider

45ml Fire Drum Vodka
B Cider Company Two Pink Ladies Cloudy Apple Cider
Juice of a Lime
2 dashes Bittermen’s Burlesque Bitters
Ice
Apple for garnish

Fire Drum Vodka

Fill your cocktail shaker with ice and then pour in your vodka, lime and one dash of bitters. Shake hard for about 20 seconds. Grab a champagne flute and pour into the glass.  Add the second dash of bitters and then top with the cider. Garnish with an apple slice.

Fire Fueled Cider

Fire Drum Vodka is made from 100% Tasmanian barley and Tasmanian mountain water. There is quite a pronounced barley and malt aroma, hinting at it’s full bodied but slightly sweet flavour. We really think the malty flavour of the Fire Drum Vodka paired well with the spiciness of the bitters. The drink had a nice peppery spice aftertaste as well as a subtle pepper and apple aroma. You got quite a nice tingle on your lips. The B Cider Cloudy Apple Cider proved a great addition to the spicy bitters and malty vodka. B Cider Company are a small South Australian cider maker who make good cider with cute and quirky labels. It had a more subtle apple flavour than we expected but it had a delicious richness that paired well with the malty flavour of the vodka. The cider also provided a little bit of fizz, giving the drink a nice texture, and wasn’t as sharp or sweet as other ciders. Also you definitely need to dip your apple wedge in and enjoy the boozy flavour soaking through the apple, delicious. We also have to warn you that this drink is alcohol mixed with alcohol and it’ll send some heat through you. Tread carefully friends.

Fire Fueled Cider

For our first go-around with Fire Drum Vodka we were suitably impressed. It had a nice aroma and rich malty flavour that made a damn fine cocktail. We can’t wait to show you what else we whipped up with this bad boy, but for now sit back and enjoy some Fire Fueled Cider!

Fire Fueled Cider

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Now Serving – Smokin’ Iced Tea

By The Gentleman

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Lord oh mercy it has not only been damn hot this summer, but humid. It feels more like the Deep South than South Australia right about now and while The Lady and I don’t like the heat at the best of times this humidity is something else. Luckily we had plenty of tea concentrate leftover from our So French 75 that we could make the perfect drink for these hot and humid conditions, a delicious and refreshing spiked ice tea! Introducing the Smokin’ Iced Tea.

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Smokin’ Iced Tea

45ml Stolen Spiced Rum

30ml French Earl Grey Tea Concentrate

Juice of Half a Lemon

Fever Tree Lemonade

Ice

Lemon peel or wedge to garnish

 

Add ice to your cocktail shaker and shake the rum, tea concentrate and lemon juice. Grab a highball glass, chuck in some ice and then pour in your boozy tea. Top with lemonade, garnish with a piece of lemon and serve with a straw.

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There’s nothing too fancy about this drink but boy did it hit the spot. It’s cool and refreshing with nice caramel and spice flavours from the rum, sweetness and herbal flavours from the tea, and a satisfyingly sharp tang from the lemon and lemonade. All of these different flavours given the drink an enticing aroma. You can play around with the measurements as well if your tastes lean more towards the rum, tea, or lemon. We think this mix provides the right balance though and we recommend Stolen Spiced Rum or something with similar coffee and tobacco flavours as it provides great flavour to the drink. Either way this is an easy drinking ice tea, almost a little too easy to drink. You’ll knock it back in no time and be wondering where the next is. It would be perfect mixed up in a big pitcher so you could just while away the afternoon, not doing anything but escaping the heat and humidity. Just make sure you’ve got plenty of ice, a comfortable chair, and a book to keep you company.

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Given we’re experiencing weather more common to the Deep South than South Australia lately it makes sense to imbibe in a bit of Southern hospitality. The Smokin’ Iced Tea is quick and easy to prepare, perfect for a hot and humid day where you don’t really want to do anything. Just sit back, relax and try not to overdo it ya hear.

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Now Serving – So French 75

By The Gentleman

So French 75

Tea, if you haven’t realised by now, is a great addition to your cocktail repertoire. This is already our fourth experiment with using tea in a cocktail and we aren’t planning on stopping anytime soon. The complex and delicious flavours of your favourite tea blend can lend a different element to your drink of choice. That’s the approach we took with our So French 75, which ramps up the flavour of the classic French 75 with a delicious concentrate made from Sydney based T Totaler’s French Early Grey Loose Leaf Tea (see what we did there, French tea for a French 75).  Props to With Food + Love for the inspiration.

T Totaler French Earl Grey

French Earl Grey Tea Concentrate

5 tsp T Totaler French Early Grey Loose Leaf Tea

1 cup boiling water

4 tsps candied cinnamon honey

 

First you need to make your tea concentrate, which doubles as the sweetness (simple syrup) you would normally add to a French 75. Start by boiling the kettle. Place tea in a tea strainer or French Press. Pour over water and leave to steep for 10 minutes. After about 5 minutes stir in your honey, making sure that it dissolves. After 10 minutes plunge your French Press and then pour out the tea into a jar or glass. Place in the fridge to cool.

So French 75

So French 75

30ml French Earl Grey Concentrate

15ml Lemon Juice

45ml Melbourne Gin Co Gin

Champagne to top (We used Jansz Premium Cuvee)

 

Fill your cocktail shaker with ice, then add the tea concentrate, lemon juice and gin. Shake well. Strain into a Champagne Flute and then top with Champagne. You can garnish with a lemon twist if you feel inclined, but alas we did not have any lemons.

So French 75

The first thing you’ll notice is the tea concentrate gives the drink a very pretty colour, a brassy, copper tone. The second thing you’ll notice is this drink has an absolutely delicious aroma and that’s all down to the tea. The T Totaler French Earl Grey is made from China Black Tea, hibiscus, roses, blue corn, marigold, and bergamot. It has a real fruity, floral and herbal aroma that stands out in the drink, which isn’t dulled but actually enhanced by the gin and Jansz. The So French 75 has a really sharp, zingy citrus flavour but there’s nice balance. It’s not too sweet and the Jansz gives it a nice dryness, a combination that leaves you quite refreshed. Be careful as this is a sneaky strong drink. The delightful tea flavours mask the strength of the gin and wine.

So French 75

I’m still not a tea drinker, but all these tea cocktails are definitely to my taste. They add something different to any drink without much effort and we are all about adding as much flavour with the least amount of effort. The tea concentrate makes quite a lot so we can’t wait to shake up a few more drinks that are bursting with floral, herbal tea flavours.

 

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On The Shelf – By Jingo Wines Nero Rosso

By The Lady

By Jingo! Nero Russo

We, dear readers, are very lucky ducks! A dear friend of ours spoiled us this Christmas by giving us a bottle of By Jingo! Nero Rosso.

By Jingo! Nero Russo

By Jingo! are a South Australian winery who focus on growing grapes and making wines that suit the areas in which they are produced. With grapes sourced from vineyard areas such as Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and the Southern Fleurieu, you know their wines are going to be tasty as a wine can be. In fact, the Nero Rosso includes grapes that were grown above the nudist beach at Maslin’s Beach so you know things are bound to get a little funky at By Jingo! They also have on offer a range of unique blends, which is both exciting and refreshing.

By Jingo! Nero Russo

The Nero Rosso itself is a perfect red wine to enjoy on a hot summer’s day and boy has it been hot lately. All we want to do is sit back, sip some damn fine wine, and try not to stick to the couch. This beauty has such a grace about it and goes down so easily, qualities we are lacking as we slowly melt. The Nero Rosso combines the likes of a Grenache, Montepulciano as well as a Zinfandel. Personally, I can really taste the summery notes of the Montepulciano coming through in this wine. It has a deep red colour and a full-bodied flavour of dark berries and currants, yet it’s quite light at the same time. The mouthfeel is actually quite fresh and very smooth with lots of nice fruit flavours and just a hint of tart, acidic tannins. You can easily polish off the whole bottle in one sitting, it’s sneaky good that way, and it’s the perfect bottle to just pick up drink no questions asked.

By Jingo! Nero Russo

Their label design is also spot on. The names of the wine and winery are encased by a plethora of beautiful, colourful blooms and fruits. Again, the fresh and summery taste of the wine truly shines through their label design. As I looked at the bottle, even prior to opening it, I was able to imagine the fragrant smells and textures of the Nero Rosso by way of the dapper design on By Jingo’s graphics. It was a very inviting label, offering up a veritable cornucopia for the eyes and we definitely got a bit of a hot flush in anticipation when we saw it or maybe that was just the oppressive heat.

 

So, if summer is totally your jam and you’re in the mood for a red, we suggest you pick up a bottle of By Jingo! wine to enjoy on a balmy summer eve with friends aplenty.

 

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Now Serving – Apricot and Date Infused Gin Old Fashioned

By The Gentleman

Apricot and Date Infused Gin

Randomly we were given a huge bagof apricots from a neighbour’s apricot tree. As it was just before Christmas, everything was too stressful to think of anything major we could do with them, like a pie or something. So instead we did the only logical thing. Grabbed some Gordon’s Gin that had been hanging around for a while, chucked it into a mason jar and filled that bad boy up with apricots and dates. That way we didn’t have to think too much about what to do with them and would hopefully have something tasty for little work. After the craziness of Christmas ended we decided to test the fruits of our labour, whipping up a classic Old Fashioned style cocktail that got a big kick of flavour from the infused gin.

 

Apricot and Date Infused Gin Old Fashioned

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp water

2 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

60ml Apricot and Date Infused Gin

Date to garnish

1 large ice cube

 

In an old fashioned glass muddle the brown sugar with the water until you can’t hear it crunching. Add your two dashes of bitters and the large ice cube. Pour over your apricot and date infused gin and then stir to combine. Garnish with a date cut into strips.

Apricot and Date Infused Gin

For the apricot and date infused gin start off with 1 cup of gin, 5 apricots quartered and 3 dates chopped. We opted for fresh apricots but we have heard dried apricots also give off a good, albeit different flavour. After a few hours we added 2 more apricots and 2 more dates and then the next morning we added another apricot and 2 more dates. Leave it for at least 2 days. It was hard at first to gauge how much flavour was being imparted as even after almost 2 days it still smelled a lot like gin, but once we strained it and it had rested for a few days the date flavour really came forward. Make sure you strain it well because the dates will produce a fair bit of sediment.

Apricot and Date Infused Gin

We chose something relatively straightforward because we really just wanted to see how the apricot and date infused gin was. We are pleased to report that it turned out quite well. The dates given the gin a sweet, caramel flavour that has a fruit aftertaste from the apricots. We were worried the dates may have overpowered the apricots, but they didn’t. They provide a nice balance to the dates and stopped it from being too sweet. What was quite interesting was the almost syrupy consistency the gin developed. The infusion really stripped everything out of the dates and started to take the juices out of the apricots, giving it quite a thick mouthfeel. It was quite delicious and there was no real hint of alcohol or the original Gordon’s Gin. It was very smooth and easy to drink with just a touch of spicy chocolate from the bitters.

Apricot and Date Infused Gin

We’re not sure what else we will pair this with because it has a whole lot of flavour on it’s own, but we would be more than happy to just see the bottle out drinking infused Old Fashioneds because they tasted mighty fine.

 

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