Now Serving – Santa’s Milk

By The Gentleman

Santa's Milk

Spoilers ahead people, my dad is Santa. At least, he was in my house. As usual it took us a while to realise this but in retrospect it should have been pretty easy to work out. Instead of a glass of milk we left Santa an iced coffee, apparently he liked a bit of variety on his travels, but really it was because dad was an iced coffee fiend. Great detectives we were not. So, with that as an inspiration we made the Santa’s Milk, a decidedly more adult offering for Santa.

Santa’s Milk

40 ml Mr Black Spirits Coffee Liqueur

15 ml Tuaca

30 ml Cream

Cocoa powder for garnish


Cookies or biscuits


Pour the coffee liqueur, Tuaca, cream, and ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously. Strain into a small port-style glass. Dust with cocoa powder and serve with cookies or biscuits for dunking.

Santa's Milk

Sadly, we do have to admit that the way we served this drink was not exactly how it was meant to go. Initially, instead of shaking everything together we were trying to get a layered effect with the coffee and Tuaca down the bottom and the cream on top. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and we’re not sure why. We had everr hot mess. The cream didn’t form one layer, but a bunch of separate blobs. It wasn’t good. So I jumped on that hand grenade (we can’t afford to waste any liquor here) and made The Lady’s drink in the shaker to much better results.

Santa's Milk

The Santa’s Milk had that creamy Bailey’s sort of consistency without the sweetness. It was very smooth and did taste like a fancy, adult iced coffee. That’s what we were hoping for in the end because iced coffee is basically an essential survival tool for Australian summers and it is particularly essential in South Australia, where the people are rather proud that iced coffee (Farmer’s Union to be precise) outsells Coca-Cola and is close to the only place in the world where a milk drink outsells a cola. We certainly love our iced coffee, it’s perfect on a hot day, and this had a good coffee kick behind it. The Tuaca also just helped make it easy to drink, providing a delicious vanilla finish. You definitely want to serve this with some cookies or biscuits, not something soft but more of a biscotti or almond bread that has some substance so you can dunk it in. It’s damn tasty.

Santa's Milk

The saying goes when in Rome do as the Romans do so, we feel Santa (or my dad) would approve of an iced coffee, with a touch of something extra, when traveling through South Australia on a hot Christmas Eve. Still, we don’t want him getting too happy and there being a recreation of the Tim Allen movie The Santa Clause. We would not look good in a fat suit. Instead we think we’ll keep this one to ourselves.


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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


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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The Cocktail Challenge 2014 Christmas Gift Guide

By The Lady and The Gentleman


Christmas is fast approaching. Seriously it’s less than two weeks away. This always happens, you say you’re going to be extra prepared this year but it never happens. Don’t worry because the Cocktail Challenge is here to help you ace your gift buying by showing you some great items for the people in your life who don’t mind a drop or two of boozy goodness. Seeing as this is our first holiday gift guide we thought we’d give it a local flavour and show you the wine, beer, spirits, and gear you should choose this year.


Four Pillars Barrel Aged Gin

Just in time for Christmas Cocktail Challenge favourite Four Pillars have released their second batch of Barrel Aged Gin. This is a damn fine gin that’s just as good as their award-winning Rare Dry Gin, but it’s got something a little different going on from aging process. It’s a touch sweeter and hits a few different spice notes from the wine barrels. It is equally as good in a glass on it’s own with some ice or in a delicious twist on the classic Tom Collins.

Four Pillars Gift

Four Pillars Mixing Glass and Bar Spoon Set

Sticking with Four Pillars we are just in love with this simple yet elegant mixing glass and bar spoon set. Essential tools for any home bar the set continue to show Four Pillar’s dedication to good design and quality products. The Japanese-made glass looks gorgeous but is still practical with enough capacity to make two drinks and a spout for easy pouring. We love the touch of giving the bar spoon a copper finish in tribute to Wilmer. If one of these ended up under the tree we would be damn happy.


Jam Factory Wine Glass/Tumblers


Keeping it super local, the Jam Factory is an Adelaide design institution that has been instrumental in supporting designers and artists for over 40 years. The Jam Factory is always finding and nurturing great talent, like Emma Klau the designer of the Kinetic Tumbler. We just love the look of these hand blown glasses, which double as a decanter to aerate your wine. When you put it down the glass revolves around its axis to achieve aeration. We appreciate and are slightly scared by this design black magic.


Mister Bitters


We are not afraid to experiment when it comes to adding syrups, bitters, tinctures, and shrubs to our cocktails to give them that something extra or different. It appears we are not the only ones and there has been a boom in the small-batch bitters scene. As these things usually do, it has only recently caught on in Australia but luckily one of the first bitters out the gate is a beauty. Melbourne-based Mr Bitters brings together a bartender and the founder of bitters mecca to craft some damn tasty bitters. We have tried the Pink Grapefruit & Agave and love it’s bitter, but fresh grapefruit flavour. It smells heavenly and has a fun, fruity label that is all class. We can’t wait to get our hands on the rest of the range.


Mollydooker Wines Velvet Glove Shiraz and Hither & Yon Shiraz Cabernet

Being Australian, particularly South Australian, meant we couldn’t do a gift guide without talking about wine. We opted for two very different reds for very different people. Mollydooker Wines Velvet Glove Shiraz is the top of the line drop offered by the McLaren Vale-based winery. We just love this bottle. You look at it and you know what’s inside is going to be so good (but so expensive!). The Velvet Glove is for that special someone in your life who is going to appreciate a superior quality wine. We can’t quite afford such a bottle on a student’s living, but we can gaze longingly at the gorgeous bottle and salivate at the description of full bodied, complex, rich and thick flavours that coat your mouth. We are very jealous of whoever has one of these under their tree this year.


The best thing about South Australia is we are so inundated with good quality wine at a variety of prices to make present buying that bit easier. Hither & Yon, another McLaren Vale-based winery, are someone we can’t recommend enough. The Shiraz Cabernet is in the middle-price range at $35 a bottle, but it is well worth it. The tattoo inspired artwork is amazing and eye-catching and the taste, well the taste was so good we had to express ourselves by mimicking a YouTube video. Yeah, it was that good. Seriously this hits all the right notes. Great taste, reasonably priced and sweet design. Pick up a bottle for a gift and one for yourself.


Sample Brew


Melbourne is so accessible that it sometimes feels like a second city to us…other times it feels like it could be on the other side of the planet, like when we came across Melbourne-based brewer Sample Brew. We love the look of the bottles with their clean, simple yet beautiful design. We also like the sound of the beers. Sample currently brew an American style Pale Ale and a Gold Ale according to the Reinheitsgebote, a purity law which stipulates only barley, hops, water and yeast can be used in the brewing process. They promise fruity yet crips flavours as part of the brewers desire to blend classic styles with an experimental nature. The sad part is Sample aren’t easily accessible in Adelaide, making Melbourne feel like a very far away place. To all our Melbourne readers though, do your beer loving friend a favour and give the gift of Sample Brew.


A subscription service – The Cocktail Kit/White Possum Craft Spirits

Still too hard even with all these awesome recommendations? Then maybe you need to check out the latest kid on the Australian liqour scene, subscription services. Simply sign up, choose your plan and let them take over the hassle of finding and sourcing a range of great drinking products. Need to buy for some who is an amateur mixologist? Checkout The Cocktail Kit, a monthly curated cocktail experience that provides you with all you need to make select cocktails plus access to online instructional videos. We can attest to the quality of the end result. You can choose a sample pack, with small bottles, or go the whole hog and get the party pack so they can mix up cocktails for everyone.


Or maybe you need to buy for the discerning spirit drinker, someone who is always on the lookout for the next big or different thing or is sick of the usual spirits on offer. Then checkout White Possum Craft Spirits, a subscription service that specialises in finding and delivering Australian craft whisky, gin, vodka, and liqueurs. Each bottle comes in a nice box complete with distillery profile and drink recipes to help you craft the perfect drink to highlight each spirit. There’s a great selection of Australian distillers on offer and we like the range of subscription options including monthly, quarterly and on-demand. Plus you can tailor the subscription to a particular type of spirit or be a bit daring and choose the random box. Either way you’re helping some great Australian distillers and are probably going to get something pretty tasty.


And The One That Got Away – Denver and Liely Whisky Glass


We were a little bit in love with the new whisky glass from Melbourne-based Denver and Liely when we saw them. They combine the tumbler and the snifter into one glass to provide a better whisky experience. You get the wide base to allow air contact, but also the tapered barrel to focus and direct the whisky. It’s a sleek and stylish glass that looks amazing. Sadly, by the time we were alerted to these gorgeous new whisky glasses everyone else had realised Denver and Liely were onto something special. They glasses were all snapped up quick smart but you can pre-order for the next batch which will be available in mid-January. We highly recommend this as a present to yourself for surviving the hectic nature of the holidays.


We hope this guide helps you shop small and give local this year. Australian makes some great gear and we’re sure anyone would be happy with one of these gifts, we sure know we would be (hint hint, nudge nudge).


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Now Serving – 12 Days of Butter

By The Gentleman

12 Days of Butter

Readers, are you aware of how hot it was in little old Adelaide, South Australia today? It was 32°C today or 89.6 Fahrenheit for our American friends. That is far to hot for all the delicious warming festive cocktails we’ve been seeing. Delicious hot-buttered rum or glorious spiced mulled wine makes our mouths water and nostrils flare in anticipation for drinking the flavour of Christmas…and then a single bead of sweat slides down our face as we think how hot and disgusting that is going to make us feel on a 32°C day! What are we to do!? Get a little weird that’s what. Take the hot, buttery, spiced goodness of many a good-looking festive drink and chill that sucker down. Introducing the 12 Days of Butter. Your arteries have been warned.

Those festive spices yo

Those festive spices yo


12 Days of Butter

30ml spiced butter syrup

30ml Bulleit Bourbon

45ml Le Birlou Apple and Chestnut Liqueur

Apple slice to garnish

Grated Nutmeg



Grab your cocktail shaker and pour in your syrup, bourbon and liqueur. Add ice. Put the lid on and shake. Now the butter syrup is going to solidify a little bit so you need to double strain this bad boy. Grab an old fashioned glass and stack two ice cubes on top of each other. Use the ice to hold your apple slice in place. Double strain into the prepared glass and grate nutmeg on top of the ice.


Spiced Butter Syrup for 2

50g unsalted butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup water

5 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp vanilla essence

Pinch of salt


In a saucepan melt butter over low-medium heat till it smells nutty and starts to turn slightly brown. Stir and keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Add water, sugar, vanilla and spices. Leave on the heat until the sugar is melted and combined with the butter. Remove from the heat and leave the spices in there to infuse. This also allows the syrup to cool down. Leave to infuse for at least 15 minutes, but you can leave it longer if you like. Strain to remove spices.

12 Days of Butter

The 12 Days of Butter was exactly what we were looking for. The drink is still rich and full of all those delicious spice flavours. In particular the grating of nutmeg on top makes the drink smell and taste heavenly. It’s smooth and buttery, feeling nice on your tongue and going down really nicely with a noticeable and delightful punch of vanilla. Smooth butter and vanilla, that’s what we’re talking about people. Christmas is a time to indulge and it doesn’t get much more indulgent than drinking butter. The drink is rich with a sweet almost caramel flavour and just fills you with this very festive, European Christmas sensation. As The Lady said, it tastes like Harry Potter, something like the grown up, classy version of Butter Beer Harry would magic up when remembering the good old days of kicking Voldermort’s ass. It has all these festive, wintery notes yet it’s far more suited to the Australian climate. The Le Birlou is also a nice addition to the typical winter drink stable. Le Birlou has a smooth flavour that really compliments the butter. Plus chestnuts and apples seem pretty festive to us and we think you should add a bottle of this to your repertoire (in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere). There is also no unpleasant bourbon aftertaste, it just enhances the spices and lets the butter and Le Birlou take over. Although be warned, there is a bit of a kick here. Finally, if you can wait a little before you start drinking or savour it slowly because if you do that apple slice is not only going to provide a hint of apple sweetness to the aftertaste but it’s going to soak up those flavours and be the most delicious note to finish. A crisp bite of butter, spice, booze and apple. Now that’s Christmas.

12 Days of Butter

We were a little concerned this wouldn’t work the way we wanted it to, but any fears we had were squashed as soon as we took that first sip. It was everything we were looking for and more. A festive, flavour packed drink that took everything we loved about those warm Christmas drinks and made it so we could drink it in Australia without the fear of sweating up a storm.

12 Days of Butter

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