On The Shelf – Sierra Nevada Brewing 2014 Narwhal Imperial Stout

By The Gentleman

Before I begin I just want to say that anyone who doesn’t like annoying, kind of funny, repetitive Internet songs that get stuck in your head for a decade should probably stop reading right now…okay are they gone? Good, then let’s begin.

narwhal

I want to take you back over ten years, to a time before YouTube, when finding hilarious online videos usually involved a trip to Newgrounds or some other Flash video portal. During this time there was one particular Flash cartoon creator who was like the Devil incarnate for catchy Internet videos : Jonti Picking and the Weebl Stuff website. Picking had a gift for creating repetitive songs that could drill deep down into your brain. Years after seeing a video you’d still find yourself humming along to Magical Trevor, Badger, Badger, Badger, or the Kenya song. Once you heard one of these songs it was impossible to forget it. Someone starts talking about Kenya (or Norway…more like Snoreway!) and all I can see is little dancing Lions and Tigers and all I can hear is an Englishman singing “Come to Kenya” with a really annoying trumpet accompaniment. Basically the point of this is the whole time I was drinking the Sierra Nevada 2014 Narwhal Imperial Stout all I could think of was “Narwhals! Narwhals! Swimming in the ocean causing a commotion coz they are so awesome”:

narwhal1

I’d like to talk about the delicious thick, creamy, brown head and the big, rich, roasted coffee and chocolate flavour of this Imperial Stout, which smelt just as good as it tasted and went down surprisingly smoothly with little bitterness or over the top boozyness despite clocking in at a beastly 10.2% ABV, but really all I can think about is Narwhal’s and how they are so awesome. Did you know they are the Jedi’s of the sea AND they invented the shish kebab? Looking at the bad-ass Narwhal on the Sierra Nevada label it’s easy to believe these things. They look like a creature that doesn’t mess about and just gets straight down to the business of being awesome, much like the Narwhal Imperial Stout.

narwhal2

Apparently the Narwhal Imperial Stout is a beer that gets better with age, but I don’t think I’d be able to have it in the house for any length of time. Every time I see it I’d just start thinking about Narwhal’s and singing that damn song, it would slowly drive me insane. No this is one to drink as soon as you can get your hands on it.

narwhal6

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

Advertisements

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

Dark Chocolate

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.

Dark Chocolate

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.

Boozefood – Triple Choc Double Nut Beer Brownies

By The Gentleman

Beer Brownie

It’s been a while but we’re back with some more Boozefood and we think you’re going to like love this one. There’s not a lot of things that can compare to the sheer delight of biting into a gooey, chocolatey, crispy brownie. Try and fine one, it’s going to be difficult. I’ll wait…Back? Good. Anyway, anyone on a diet may want to look away now because these Triple Choc Double Nut Beer Brownies have enough sugar and chocolate to put you in a coma.

Beer Brownie

Triple Choc Double Nut Beer Brownies adapted from Kitchy Kitchen

Ingredients

100 g semi sweet chocolate

115 g of butter, browned

4 eggs, at room temp

2 cups brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder – I used Mörk’s 65% with River Salt

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I didn’t use any extra as the Mörk was already salted)

1 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

1/2 cup Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar

25 g Lindt Dark Almond Chocolate

3/4 cup mixed chopped nuts (I used almonds and pecans)

Beer Brownie

Directions

Preheat oven to 175C

Sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate. I just do it in the microwave because I’m lazy, but you may want to go the whole hog and do it in a bowl over boiling water. In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter until it just turns golden brown (about 5 minutes). Combine the butter and melted chocolate, you may want to do this over a low heat but make sure you scrape it real good so none of the chocolate burns, then add your beer (and take a swig for yourself, you’ve earned it).  In a separate bowl beat together the eggs and sugar until thick and shiny (2 minutes). Continue beating on low while adding flour mixture and wet ingredients alternatively. Finish with the bitters, nuts and your broken up almond chocolate, folding in. Do not over mix. Pour into a buttered and lined 9 x 13 pan. The baking time will really depend on your oven. It could take up to 40-45 minutes, but in my Fan Forced oven it only took 25 minutes. I recommend putting it on for 20 minutes and then checking the middle with a skewer to see how it is going. You want them to be just set and not too dry.

Beer Brownie

Waiting for these things to cool down was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to endure in my life. Yes that’s right, MY LIFE! The smell was just heavenly, chocolate and nuts, and people were wondering in off the street thinking we were having an open inspection (yes real estate humour!). The flavour didn’t disappoint either. I explained to The Lady that they were a dense, gooey chocolate overload with a crispy, cracked top and she replied calmly, “It’s not just a brownie, it’s a way of life”. I knew there was a reason I liked her because it’s true. You’re either one of two people, those that like cakey brownies or those that like gooey, cracked brownies. This one is for all the gooey people out there (a statement that would be so wrong, but it’s brownies so it’s so right). It’s set just enough to hold its shape and not crumble when you take a bite out of it. As soon as you bite into it you’re mouth is filled with chocolate, but it’s not overly sweet thanks to the use of good quality bittersweet dark chocolate. The nuts provide some crunch and a nice change of texture to the gooey chocolate. The beer and the bitters provide a malty, spicy aftertaste that sits pleasantly on your tongue. I really can’t say too much more about these brownies because it’s just making me want to eat even more of them.

Beer Brownie

So do yourself a favour and make yourself these brownies. It may not change your life (it’s more likely to shorten it), but damn you’ll get lost in a moment of chocolatey heaven you’ll never want to end and that’s something we can all do with every now and then.

Beer Brownie

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

Now Serving – Forrest Gump

By The Lady

Forrest Gump

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” Oh, how true this is. Although, if life really were like a box of chocolates, everything would be sweet, delicious and satisfying. We sometimes wish that we lived life through the lens of Forrest Gump, but to satisfy our cravings , we create cocktails.

 

Over the weekend, we decided we wanted to combine some of our favourite sweet liqueurs together to create a dessert-like cocktail. We were completely winging it with this one, but we are pleasantly surprised at the results! In lieu with our sweet, chocolate box theme, we decided to name the drink after the man who said it first. Forrest Gump. Clearly.

Forrest Gump

For the Forrest Gump, we used :

45 mL Le Birlou

30 mL Mr Black Cold Drip Coffee Liqueur

15 mL Tuaca

Ice (for preparation only)

Coffee beans or grinds (optional, for decoration)

 

Fill a fancy cocktail glass with ice cubes so that your glass is super chilled. In a cocktail shaker, add all the liqueurs with the ice and shake it up! The cocktail should have lots of air and froth in it once you are done. Empty out the ice from your cocktail glass and strain your cocktail into the cocktail glass.

Forrest Gump

The Forrest Gump certainly lives up to its namesake. We didn’t know what to expect when we mixed these spirits together and we were quite surprised. The drink tasted like a rather delicious chocolate liqueur, the kind that you would steer your children away from, because of the alcohol and so you can keep it all yourself. We found this surprising given the use of coffee and apple flavoured liqueurs, but we guess the coffee from the Mr Black toned down the apple in the Le Birlou and instead enhanced the hazelnut notes to give it that sort of chocolate taste. Either way tt’s a little bit fancy and very much a dessert cocktail. The drink looks gorgeous, with a lovely caramel colour and that light and airy foam. You need to shake it a lot, but it is definitely worth it when you see and taste the results. There’s also no overwhelming alcohol flavour or sweetness to the drink, just a beautiful blend of nutty, chocolatey, vanilla flavours.

Forrest Gump

Life may be like a box of chocolates, but that means there are plenty of opportunities to find delicious and delightful surprises. The Forrest Gump is definitely one of those surprises. We here at the The Cocktail Challenge encourage you to surprise yourselves!

Forrest Gump

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

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.

 

As always remember to like, share, and follow The Cocktail Challenge on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

On The Shelf – Garage Project Day of the Dead Black Lager

By The Gentleman

 

Australia is constantly stealing things from New Zealand and claiming them for our own. Actor Russel Crowe, racehorse Phar Lap, band Crowded House and delicious dessert Pavlova all stolen from New Zealand and promoted as Australian successes. It’s kind of part of Australia’s identity as a nation. Both Australia and New Zealand are going through a craft beer and spirits revival at the moment and I wouldn’t be surprised if Australia tries to claim a few New Zealand brewers or distillers as their own. It’s what we do. Who knows, maybe New Zealand’s Garage Project with their super experimental nano brews and stylish packaging might be the one worth claiming.

Day of the Dead

The Garage Project nano brewery is located in Aro Valley, Wellington, New Zealand. They focus on really small brewing, hence the designation as a nano brewery. By being small Garage Project is able to experiment and be more flexible with their production to accommodate interesting mixes like the Day of the Dead Black Lager. It may not be listed as part of their philosophy but cool label design also appears to be important to Garage Project. As you would expect the Day of the Dead label features the skulls or sugar skulls that are so ubiquitous with the celebration. Obviously the skull suits the name of the beer perfectly yet the whole focus on the Day of the Dead is really a good extension of the beer’s basis on the Aztec beverage xocolatl. The skull just really enhances the Latin American vibe of the beer. I also appreciate the fact that, to me at least, the eyes look like hop plants. They haven’t just stuck any old skull on there, they’ve designed it so it resonates with the fact that this is a beer. The use of the skull makes the bottle look quite impressive. It’s a big longneck bottle that’s a quite dark amber colour and you’re eyes are just drawn to this white skull. It really stands out against the colour of the bottle and the rest of the label.

Day of the Dead

Described as a true celebration of the dark side the Day of the Dead Black Lager is a strong black lager inspired by the Aztec beverage xocolatl, “a bitter, frothy, spicy drink” combining cocoa and chili. The drink is brewed with smoked chipotle chili, refermented with organic blue agave syrup (the basis of Tequila) and conditioned over raw cocoa nibs. Garage Project describe the Day of the Dead as “rich and dark… smooth and drinkable with a complex mix of smoke, chocolate and restrained chili heat.” Not surprisingly the beer was first released on on November 1, El Día de los Muertos – Mexico’s Day of the Dead.

Day of the Dead

I have to say that this is one of the most accurate flavour descriptions I’ve ever come across. Ever note they highlight I was picking up on. The beer pours a deep black with a lot of head that is a quite dark brown, tan sort of colour. It looks and smells very reminiscent of a stout its that dark yet without the overly yeasty flavour profile. Drinking it you are hit with those three big flavours of smoke, bitter chocolate and spicy heat from the chilies. Taking just a little sip you get more of the bitter chocolate taste at first and a mild chili aftertaste. Take a big gulp and you get this really smoky flavour with a n intensely potent chili heat in your mouth that lingers pleasantly for sometime after you’ve finished. It gives your mouth this really enjoyable tingle. Unlike a Guinness, which many people regard as a meal in itself, the Day of the Dead Black Lager feels a lot lighter. It goes down very smooth despite being a relatively strong beer at 6.7% ABV. It doesn’t taste beery or leave a strong alcohol taste at all, instead you just get that really pleasant mix of smokiness and chilli spice that makes it very drinkable.

Day of the Dead

Knocking back a bottle of the Day of the Dead Black Lager I definitely think Garage Project is something Australia should be looking to claim and that’s like the ultimate compliment from an Australian right? Seriously this is one tasty beer that is full of strong, potent flavours that really kick your tastebuds into overdrive. My mouth is watering for that pleasant, smoky spicyness just thinking about it. Well played New Zealand, well played.

Day of the Dead

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