Now Serving – Grape Time

By The Gentleman

Grape Time

When I was little my family would always have prawn cocktails as a starter before Christmas lunch. I hated it. I just can’t get over the texture of raw seafood. Everyone always said when I got older I’d grow accustomed to the taste, but I never did. For some reason, instead of having a prawn cocktail I would have a bowl of grapes (served in the same fancy glass as everyone’s prawn cocktails). This may sound like a punishment, but I loved it. I would just chow down on grapes and look at everyone else like they were the weird ones. I don’t have a bowl of grapes now, but I still always associate Christmas with eating grapes and that’s the inspiration behind our very grapey festive cocktail, Grape Time.

Grape Time

Grape Time

45 ml Alaskan Rock Vodka

45 ml White Grape Juice

15 ml Noilly Prat Dry White Vermouth

5 ml Grand Marnier

15 ml Grape and Balsamic Shrub

Ice

Grapes for Garnish

Soda Water

 

In a mixing glass half filled with ice mix vodka, grape juice, vermouth and Grand Marnier until chilled. Strain into a champagne flute. Add crushed ice, grapes and top with soda water. I cut a few grapes in half and put them in the glass and then slit one so it could rest on the lip of the glass. Grab your shrub and pour it in over the back of the spoon to get a layered effect. Add a pretty straw so you can mix in the shrub as you desire.

Grape Time

All of this stuff is pretty easy to find except the grape shrub. I made that myself by macerating grapes in sugar overnight before transferring it all to a mason jar with balsamic vinegar, which was left in the fridge for a week and the grapes were strained out. I use a 1:1:1 ratio for shrubs. If you don’t have the time to make it don’t stress, the shrub gives a slightly different flavour but was mostly for presentation.

Grape Time

This was exactly what I wanted, something that was oh so grape flavoured to bring me back to Christmas when I was younger. Vodka is the perfect partner because it doesn’t interfere with the flavour of the grape juice. Vermouth is also an obvious choice, adding a slightly herbal flavour and keeping it from getting too sweet but not veering too far away from that lovely grape flavour. If you can make the shrub then I encourage you to do so because it not only makes the drink look impressive, it also gives it a little bit of bite and something different. We are definitely fans of what balsamic can bring to a cocktail and it paired really nicely with the grape juice. It was basically an explosion of sweet, light grape flavour with a hint of fizz that was topped off by some booze soaked grapes at the bottom of the glass. I certainly didn’t get to eat those Christmas day, but I wouldn’t be turning them down now.

 

The Grape Time isn’t your normal festive cocktail and that’s okay because it’s damn tasty. Just roll with it, it’ll be fine and while you’re at it, have a bowl of grapes on Christmas day. It’s not weird at all…right?

 

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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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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.